Those who follow me know that I’ve been a little obsessed with this white teafrom Tealeaf. So as you might imagine, I’ve been drinking it quite a bit and thus have done some experimenting with the brewing. I recently decided to brew this tea using four different temperatures simultaneously in order to see just how much the temperature effects the tea. I tried to make everything as standardized as possible but I didn’t have four vessels of exactly the same size (but close) nor did I have all the same size cups (there was a bigger variation on this part but I like to think it’s one of the less important factors). I used 8 cups and brewed the tea twice at each temperature so I’d have the first and second infusions to compare and then later the third and fourth infusions.
The first brewing temperature I used (and that was the suggested brewing temperature for this tea given by Tealeaf) was 175f. At this temperature, the tea was delicate, floral and sweet yet long lasting. The mouth feel almost reminded me of Stevia leaf, not the flavor, but the way that the flavor sticks to your tongue (particularly on the sides) and remains in your mouth for a long time even after it’s been swallowed. This is a very delightful temperature to brew at and is one where you can make many infusions and not get overwhelmed by it.
The next temperature was 185f. While it was a only ten degree increase, I was surprised at how much the brew changed, in a good way! It was still floral, however, there was also now some woodier notes in the mix as well as an amazing vanilla like character to it. In my opinion this is the temperature that brings out all the characteristics of the tea with the greatest balance. The woody notes don’t overpower the delicate floral notes but give it a more well rounded complexity. This was my favorite brewing temp- at least at the time of this experiment… you all know it’s hard to really choose “favorites”.
Ten degrees later at 195f, those woody notes that started to make an appearance at 185f really started to come out. While at 175f the most prominent flavor was floral, here at 195f, the scale begins to tip favoring the woody, more tenacious notes. This was probably my least favorite brew of the four.
Finally, I did a brew at a full boil, 212f. Here, almost all the floral notes have been lost within the strong, dominate notes of wood and hay. However, there was an interesting complexity, especially in the aftertaste. It’s hard to describe it, but it wasn’t just twigs and wood chips I was tasting but something more. Like the water inside those wood chips, and perhaps all the tiny organisms living inside it making it a unique world we cannot begin to comprehend.
This is what people are like- when exposed to different environments, they adapt, change and present themselves according to their surroundings. Thus our perception of someone can also change depending on where we meet them and in what situation. Our impressions also change depending on our current mood and current life situation. This, of course, doesn’t mean that humans become different people depending on their environment. It simply means that different facets of the same person are more present depending on the situation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be, when people want to avoid or hide certain aspects of themselves, but this is not always the case. A simple way to put it is that if you’re at your home and have some guests over who begin to engage in behaviors you are not comfortable with, you are more likely to feel bold enough to say something about it than if you were at someone else’s house.
Something I’ve learned about myself over the years is that environments are huge for me. If I’m somewhere I’ve never been before or surrounded by people I don’t know or feel intimidated by I tend to be very quiet and reserved. Thus, I am perceived in a very different way than if someone met me at my church or at an event where I know I’m surrounded by like minded people where I would feel much more comfortable. I am a very introverted person as well, so I need alone time in order to recharge. If someone catches me when my meter for social interaction is reaching its cap, I might come off as irritable or unwilling to interact. The opposite would be true if I had just had a good nights rest and a quiet morning with minimal interactions. Teas can be as complex as people are, having a little of this and a little of that. Exposing them to different environments (in this case, temperature) will help us see each aspect clearly and thus get to know them better than if we only steeped them at the same temperature each time. This of course involves risk; risk that you may not like all the brews and that perhaps some not so pretty faces of certain teas may be exposed. Yet this is the only way to get to know a tea in depth. Sure, teas may have their optimal brewing temp where all their best qualities can shine (as each individual has their optimal environment) but we won’t learn much about the tea if we never push it. Never changing up how you brew tea is like only talking to the same person at the same exact time and day each week while wearing the same clothes and eating the same thing over and over again. Boring! Experiencing trials, challenges and different environments together is the only way to truly know a person and is the only way to really know yourself.