Saturday, October 31, 2015

Brewing Fannings

What to do about the pesky bits of tea crumb that are unfit for teapot brewing?  Like taxes in life, you simply cannot avoid fannings in puerh.  Even if your whole leaf cake arrived in pristine unmolested condition, careful excavation for a session will still generate crumbs. You think you can steam your way out of it, but still somehow fannings were hiding in the cake originally.  Tuos and bricks tend to have lots of chop so you are guaranteed fannings.  Puerh samples by their very nature produce abundant fannings.  Fannings simply indicate broken up leaf but fannings and dust have specific grades- I'm talking about leaves broken up smaller than the size rice grains that can seriously clog up your teapots.  While I will brew the larger broken leaves for initial tastings,  I rarely brew up the smaller fannings because I always have bigger leaf to brew.

I brewed up the fannings of a ho-hum 90's sheng yesterday for kicks. This stone pressed aged beeng was almost a quarter fannings- completely battered by the boat journey from China.  I was just tired of seeing the half cup of fannings in the wrapper continually degrading into yet smaller pieces every time I handled this beeng that I resolved to drink it up once and for all.  I tend to keep larger amounts of fannings with the original cake and the smaller amounts I toss in separate canisters- one for sheng one for shu.  I've brewed up shu fannings with regret- life is too short for that.

Fannings are graded inferior to whole leaf and I've often seen whole leaf tea vendors dismiss fannings as producing a bitter harsher brew. With other types of non-ageable teas, freshness could be a big issue with fannings but how about puerh.  Fannings with greater surface area leach more quickly so it's a lot easier to overbrew than whole leaf but is the taste significantly inferior?  Puerh fannings definitely should age faster and I'll empirically agree that they definitely oxidize faster.

You can gather dust and fannings up in a teabag and determine for yourself.  I brew fannings in a sieve for convenience. Flash brewing control is the key- no teapot I have drains fast enough for crumbs even if clogging were not an issue.  My sieve yields a decent enough cup that was not too different from the whole leaf session of this tea. However this aged sheng is like peanut butter- mediocre at it's best and worst.   I tend not to get the best puerh brew from a sieve I'm guessing from lack of heat retention in my setup.  I often employ a sieve when traveling and for me it beats brewing grandpa style.  Tea sieve is definitely more grandma style.

I'm sipping shu while waiting for the kiddies to come knocking any minute as tonight is the favored American holiday where adults are forced to distribute free candy to anyone knocking. For years I tried to hand out healthier nut/raisin packs/granola bars but kids were so damn unappreciative that I went back to conventional sugar bombs.  I got some "Cry Baby" sour balls for good pranking fun.  Happy Halloween!

No comments:

Post a Comment