Tough economic times have dramatically increased people’s interest in squeezing more out of what they already have. Use less toothpaste/soap/detergent, lower the thermostat, drink milk past its sell by date….
Get more brews from your tea. Increase your yield 30%, 50%, 100% or more? It can be done!
A few years ago, my Dong Ding teacher taught me to triple the number of brews from my tea. As tea infuses in a pot or gaiwan, it expands, but the bottommost layer has less room to expand, so it releases its flavor relatively slower.
(Pulled straight out of my gaiwan after 9 infusions, the bottom is still more compressed than the top – I’ve got at least 5 more decent brews here)
The trick is not to just pull the brewed leaves out, flip it upside down and stick it back in your pot/gaiwan. You should take it out, loosen it up, spread it, then stuff it back in. Full instructions are linked to HERE.
You may have seen some tea retailers or servers use a gaiwan lid to push the steeping leaves around, as if that would help to squeeze more flavor out. I don’t think this lid-play does anything to add extra infusions. I’ve watched the tea masters do this so they can see the color of the brew, as an indicator to the “readiness” of the tea.
The dump-out, re-fill method that I’ve outlined seems to yield more infusions for me when I use a pot than when I use a gaiwan. It works best with rolled oolong and not so well with green tea; moderately-well for pu’er.
Drink good tea, get more brews, enrich your life for less! Happy New Year!!