A simple practice , but like most “new to me” tea steeping styles, bowl brewing felt a bit intimidating at first. After a few times, I have come to view bowl brewing now as a wonderfully calming and beautiful way to make tea. My favorite things about it are that it is very easy, super simple clean up, and you get to watch the unfurling of the leaves right under your nose.
So what is bowl brewing? It is a simplistic way of making tea and really is perfect for beginners starting their loose leaf practice. Similar to grandpa style brewing, but from what I can find, grandpa style is using a cup while bowl brewing uses a small bowl.
I have been aware of bowl brewing for a little while, but never thought much about trying it out. Then in my Tea Thoughts Countdown to Spring Box there came this adorable bunny bowl and instructions on how to bowl brew. So I thought, now I have the perfect opportunity to test this out.
I had some purple bud puer tea from Mountain Stream Teas that mentioned in the instructions it is well suited for grandpa style brewing. So I measured out a few grams of that into my new bowl and poured some water onto it at the recommended temperature and filled it nearly full. The first thing I noticed was that this bowl gets pretty hot, especially if your tea needs higher temperatures. I let it cool down to a drinkable temperature and wrapped a tea towel around the bowl to hold it. It was wonderful. The beautiful tea is right there for you to watch steep and open up. You can see the color intensify and smell the aroma. Most of the leaves should sink to the bottom but you can strain any others with your lip or teeth as you sip. I find it a very relaxing and beautiful experience, really getting up close and personal with your tea.
Bowl brewing is not well suited for all teas, you probably want to use teas that have larger leaves or that are rolled into ball or twisted shapes so they will slowly infuse. I have used the compressed puer, a large leafy white tea, and a ball rolled oolong so far and all have turned out well.
Some more things I have enjoyed about bowl brewing is that it’s hard to mess up. If you get it too strong take out some leaf, if you get it too weak , throw in a little more. Also you don’t necessarily have to reheat the water all the way back up to the original temperature again when you refill. I have let it drop about 20 degrees or more. This allows the tea to keep infusing and it doesn’t take as much time to get back to a drinkable temperature.
This method is perfect to practice while you are working on something because mostly the tea sits there and all you have to do is add some more water every so often. Which leads me to think this will be a perfect method for enjoying tea outside. All you need is a brewing vessel, tea, a thermos of hot water, and off you go. I am really looking forward to trying this out soon.
A quick tip, when you are drinking most teas are going to get very concentrated as your water level gets to the bottom and this can be intense and possibly bitter, so you will probably want to refill when you are down to about a quarter of the water left.
Some teas will be able to last you for hours or even all day depending on how fast you drink and how often you refill. Others won’t go as long but you will discover this as you experiment. Try things out and keep going until you are done or the leaves stop producing flavor.
Casual, peaceful, beautiful, easy, everything I could want in a nice tea session. Don’t get me wrong though, I still love my gaiwans and will use them in abundance to explore through the layers of flavor of teas.
If you haven’t yet, give bowl brewing a try. You don’t necessarily need a tea bowl, you can use a mug. If you have tried it, tell me what your favorite tea to bowl brew is.
Thanks for joining me today!