What Is Grandpa Style Tea? Meaning & Brewing Method Explained
You might think that Chinese people all brew tea the ceremonial way. In such a setting, careful steps are performed to make the perfect cup of tea. That’s far from the truth. In fact, most people brew in a very casual manner, which is known in the West as ‘grandpa style tea’. This especially the case in Anhui and Zhejiang where people mainly drink green tea.
Note: if you're interested in this way of brewing, please have a look at this grandpa style mug.
Grandpa Style versus Kungfu Brewing
Here’s how grandpa style is different from a traditional tea ceremony (or ‘kungfu style tea brewing’):
- Instead of brewing tea in a small teapot or gaiwan, you brew loose leaves directly in a large mug.
- When you brew grandpa tea, the leaf-to-water ratio is lower. Basically you brew more tea at a time, but enjoy less sessions compared to a traditional ceremony.
- There’s not much regard for temperature or steeping time. You simply keep sipping the tea until you feel the taste is good enough to enjoy.
- No infuser ball, filters or bags are used. Leaves aren’t strained, but left into the mug while drinking. When it gets bitter, you simply adds more water. If you do want to strain the leaves, you could get a tea infuser mug.
- When it gets light, add a few more leaves without removing the old leaves.
When To Do It Grandpa Style?
There are certain situations in which you might want to do it grandpa style! For example, when:
- you drink tea alone. With kungfu brewing, one session usually can serve 4-6 small cups of tea. When you drink alone, it can be a bit too much, especially as some teas can last for up to 12 sessions.
- you’re a social tea drinker. Some people particularly enjoy tea ceremonies as a social experience. They feel the enjoyment to share a cup of tea with others. If the social aspect isn’t there, they might prefer the grandpa style of brewing.
- you’re at work: Obviously, your colleagues and manager might find it strange if you start performing a ceremony at work. Though, this depends on the company culture. If you like tea really really much, then try to change the culture ;). If you can't then, teapots with infusers are also a great option!
- you lack time: Performing a ceremony is by definition slow. You’ve to enjoy it that way. If you feel a small sense of being in a hurry, then skip it, and go for grandpa style.
- you drink certain types of teas: Some pu erh and oolongs aren’t really suitable brew it grandpa style. It requires good isolation and high leaf-to-water ratios to get the best taste out of them. With white, black and green teas, grandpa style often times can work very well.
- you want a new experience: if you always brew tea the ceremonial way, grandpa style brewing can be a different experience. Not just in the way you brew tea. You might draw out different flavours of the same tea, when you switch to grandpa style. In addition, if some teas don’t taste well when you prepare it the traditional way. Try them again by brewing them casually. Perhaps that might work better!
Tips for Effective Grandpa Style Brewing
Though grandpa style brewing is way less sophisticated, it can still work well. Compared this to taking pictures with an iPhone versus shooting with a DSLR camera. The iPhone can still take very decent pics. If you know some basic principles or best practices you can in fact take very good pics with a smartphone. The same holds for grandpa style brewing. Here are some basic tips & best practices:
- Don’t have more than 2/3 of your cup filled. When tea gets bitter, there’s still space to add water.
- Don’t finish the last 1/3 of your tea or the flavour might become too light when you refill.
- Use more hot water and isolate the heat with a lid, when the taste of the tea becomes too light.
- Pour water with a fast speed, so the old tea and the new tea will mixed better together.
- Don’t use too much leaves. The taste could become too strong too fast.
- Depending on the delicacy of the tea you can decide when to add the leaves. This idea is explained in the video below: