Deep Dive: An Exploration of Pour & Steep Time [Inbetweenisode 194]

This is a non-tea drinking show where I test and explore the topic of pour time. Over the course of this episode I test the pour times of eight different vessels I use regularly to brew tea, ranging from small gaiwans to a large blue pot I use to do casual sessions of ripe in the morning. It is a nerdy episode, but in my opinion is quite informative for anyone that wants to think a little deeper about how they are brewing tea.

During these very basic tests I also explore how things with controllable pours like gaiwans and shiboridashi’s brew a little differently with tea than teapots. I conclude by examining the pre-pour steep time that occurs after you poured from your kettle. I specifically test how this time differs if you pour with the kettle from your left or right hand. The spreadsheet is a little complicated for this part, my apologies.

5 responses to “Deep Dive: An Exploration of Pour & Steep Time [Inbetweenisode 194]”

  1. James,

    A thought provoking episode. I know from my own experience that I tend to brew more forgiving teas in my slower pots as well. While I have never measured anything specifically, I have noticed that I will make mental adjustments at times when brewing the same type of tea in different pots, either pouring out quicker or not depending on the pots characteristics. I tend to brew my tea strong so I probably am less effected by small variations in time. Thanks for taking the time to focus on this aspect of tea preparation.

  2. Nice episode, and surprising results with the speed if I’m using a gaiwan I’m a bit slower because it can get really hot to touch with pouring. I’m guessing that the amount a brewing vessel can hold will also impact the pour time due to more water/tea to pour out of it.

    I’m quite curious about the difference in teapots with different filters in the spout I do own a few non clay with multiple hole like 4~7 or so but I’ve also got a few Yixing with those round ball filters which for me seem to be causing clogging issues. It mainly is the small bits of puerh that get stuck in those tiny holes on the ball filter and then the pot pours bad and you get spillage from the top and a slower pour time for me at least.

  3. Thanks James, I always like your scientific approach.

    Something that I think is important to note if you are adjusting parameters for pour time (less leaves or less steep) is that, unlike adding steep time, the relationship between longer pour time and heavier brewing isn’t linear: as you pour less and less of the tea is in contact with the water.

    For example if you have two pots (assume otherwise identical) with 10 and 20 second pour times. The pot with a 10 second pour will on average steep each leaf for about 5 seconds, since the whole volume of leaves is only in contact with the water right at the start but some of the leaves are in contact for the whole time. Assuming a constant pour speed by volume, 10% of the leaves will be in contact for 9 seconds or more, 20% for 8 seconds or more, 30% for 7 seconds etc. Whereas with the 20 second pour pot, 10% will be in contact for 18 seconds or more, 20% for 16 seconds or more, etc.

    In general I think this suggests that increases in pour time are less important the longer the pour time is, given a fixed volume. A change from 4-5 seconds makes more difference to the overall level of steeping than from 14-15 seconds. More of the leaves will be in contact with the water for the added second if the original pour time was 4 seconds than if it was 14.

    Obviously all of this is affected by leaf distribution within the pot too, to make it even more complicated…

    • Oops, that should have said for the 10 second pot: 10% will be in contact for 9-10 seconds , 20% for 8-9 seconds, 30% for 7-8 seconds, etc.

      And for the 20 second pot: 10% will be in contact for 18-20 seconds, 20% for 16-18 seconds, 30% for 14-16 seconds etc.

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