How much Puer tea to brew at once?
What kind of vessel are you using?
Every teapot, gaiwan, or other vessel should be measured for its volume in order to determine how much tea to steep. An exact number is not necessary, but we recommend getting a rough estimate of how many milliliters a vessel holds. This can be done with simple measuring cups from your kitchen. Another trick is to use a bottle with a known measurement (like a 350ml bottle of water) for measuring the water your vessel can hold.
After you know the measurement, we recommend roughly 1 gram of Puer tea per 15 ml of water. For our standard gaiwan (between 90 and 100 ml), we usually use between 6 and 7 grams of tea.
For other teas, such as black teas and oolongs, we usually use between 4 and 5 grams.
As with all things in tea, measurements are best done to personal taste. If you have a 5 gram session and find the tea to be too weak, make a note to add a gram for the next session. If the tea is too strong, subtract a gram. Taking notes on your tea drinking will help you hone your knowledge of what brewing technique and tea to water ratio yields the most pleasing results.
Do I need a scale?
While a scale is not a necessity, it certainly helps with figuring out the exact mass of your tea. Compression with puer, or tightness of rolling with other teas, can make it extremely difficult to guess by measurements other than mass. A spoonful of one tea might measure 3 grams while a spoonful of a tightly compressed puer brick might measure 15 grams. Visually, the amount of dry tea will appear the same but one tea is five times heavier than the other! Think about your favorite food. Now, multiply the amount of salt in the recipe by five. Yikes.
If you lack a scale, keep in mind that teas with a tighter compression will weigh a lot even when they visually appear to be very little tea. Tightly compressed teas will also expand in your brewing vessel and need adequate space to expand. Loosely rolled teas with a lot of space between the leaves will behave in the opposite manner. You might have to fill a gaiwan nearly full of loose, dry maocha in order to hit your desired 7 grams.
What if I misjudge the amount of tea?
If you find yourself part way into a tea session and your tea is overwhelmingly strong, take some of the leaf out before you continue. You can save this tea for later, adding it in when the leaves lose some of their potency.
When the tea is too weak, it is never too late to add more. You might want to give the newly added tea a quick rinse, or just add another gram or two and keep on brewing. Think of preparing tea like cooking; you are always free to alter the sauce to your own taste. Don’t be afraid to take license as the head chef so that you prepare the best tea possible. If you find that any of the rules above do not fit your taste, throw them out the window and do what works best for you!