The principle behind Guangdong-style brewing is to push the tea as far as it will go, brewing a deeply bitter cup. The intensity of this style is meant to reveal any shortcomings in the tea. Bitterness is accepted by professional tasters, but dry astringency is not.
Each sip is tremendously powerful with bitterness coming in as a prelude to intense Dancong mineral and wood texture. After the sip, the sweet aftertaste comes as a beautiful, soothing contrast. The bitter primer prepares the palette for deep lingering floral aromatics, and the all-encompassing sensation of “yun” the almost electrifying textural experience of fine tea.
To follow Huang Ruiguang’s Guangdong-style brewing, prepare a four to six ounce standard-sized gaiwan, a glass pitcher and small half ounce cups for tasting. Boil mineral-rich spring water and pour into the gaiwan. Pour the water through the gaiwan into the pitcher and cups to warm them.
Fill the gaiwan with leaf until there is about 1.5 times the leaf volume in the gaiwan as the total bowl volume. The lid should not be able to cover the dry leaves. This requires about ten to fifteen grams of dry leaf. Pour boiling water over the dry leaves and fill the gaiwan. The leaves should now be pliable enough to bend and allow the lid to be placed over the bowl. Immediately pour this wash into the pitcher and pour over all cups to keep them extremely hot.
Pour boiling 100 degree Celsius water over the leaves in the gaiwan to the very top of the bowl. Replace the lid. Allow the tea to steep for at least thirty seconds, and up to a minute. Start with thirty seconds on your first try and keep pushing the brew time to the very edge of your tolerance for bitterness.
Sip the intense brew in tiny cups, preferably with a group of friends to discuss the flavor. Finish your tiny cup in three sips, aerating as you sip. Pay attention to the mouthfeel on each initial sip and the way that the tea transitions from bitter to sweet. Enjoy the lingering aromatics and feel the ‘yun’ as you exhale.