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Topic: interesting topic regarding chaoshan gong fu style tea brewing

Hello,

I was asked by the forum's administrator to link this taken from MING PAO daily newspaper edition dated Dec 1st, 2008.

http://www.mingpaotor.com/htm/News/20081201/tcbk1.htm

It notes that the highly concentrated, heated, and alkaline tea soup of this style of tea making is a major cause for gastro-intestinal cancers and ulcers.  Apparently contributing to 400.000 cases involving cancer in China. 

It is an article written in chinese, I ask that laochagui can better translate this article for us all to read. The Google translator did a poor chinglish job. By no means am I trying to prove anything here, so please don't misinterpret my intention for posting, it is just an objective observation.

This is a perfect Tea Forum to post this I think.

2 (edited by ABx 2008-12-05 07:51:39)

Re: interesting topic regarding chaoshan gong fu style tea brewing

Great find! I actually think that Google translate does a pretty good job with it.

I do wonder about the strength of tea, though. The constant heat, continually burning the throat, makes sense, and if it causes ulcers that never have a chance to heal then that would make sense as well, but I wonder about what they're drinking and how. I could see it with green puerh, but can't imagine it with some of the others. Granted, I tend to like my tea fairly balanced, where some people seem to like it a lot thicker than I do (like filling a pot 1/4 to 1/2 full with dry fisted leaf like TGY or Tung Ting).

Since I drink alone 99% of the time, I generally drink ~90-100ml at a time, and almost never seated at a try, which means that only the first few sips are really hot. I also tend to cool the tea before it goes down my throat.

There is actually a similar problem in parts of South America that drink Yerba Mate. Apparently it's a macho thing to be able to drink hotter mate, and more of it, than your friends. So they chug boiling hot mate, burning their throat on a regular basis and eventually causing cancer.


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3 (edited by william 2008-12-05 22:18:03)

Re: interesting topic regarding chaoshan gong fu style tea brewing

ABx wrote:

I do wonder about the strength of tea, though. The constant heat, continually burning the throat, makes sense, and if it causes ulcers that never have a chance to heal then that would make sense as well, but I wonder about what they're drinking and how. I could see it with green puerh, but can't imagine it with some of the others. Granted, I tend to like my tea fairly balanced, where some people seem to like it a lot thicker than I do (like filling a pot 1/4 to 1/2 full with dry fisted leaf like TGY or Tung Ting).

Yeah - and this (Chaozhou gong fu) is mostly the style that I imagine they're talking about in the article (pot half full to completely full with dry pellets, and that's including some crushed tea). The tea is typically consumed even hotter than usual here, because the cups are pre-heated before each drink, and the tea is usually consumed very shortly after pouring. I thought it was also interesting in light of the tradition of only making 4 cups - maybe the tradition actually has a practical reason if you follow it back long enough. Also, if there were more than 4 people, 3 or 4 cups would still be made, the cups would be cleaned in between rounds, and people would rotate, so one person might not get to drink all 4 cups (I don't know if there is an official order of how the rotation should work in traditional 潮州功夫茶, but I'd be very interested if someone can find anything out).

One other thing to consider is that traditionally, TGY wasn't rolled as tightly, so while tradition may have been 3/4 to completely full of dry leaf, if you consider that TGY is usually rolled tighter now, half full might actually be about right by weight.

The article also mentions the local diet in some of these areas as a factor, so it's not clear if tea is the only reason for some of these problems. Could the charcoal roasting of the teas typically used for this style of brewing have anything to do with it?

I've already known for a long time that I shouldn't be drinking so much strong tea on an empty stomach in the morning, but this article is definitely making me think about that even more.


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Re: interesting topic regarding chaoshan gong fu style tea brewing

william wrote:

Yeah - and this (Chaozhou gong fu) is mostly the style that I imagine they're talking about in the article (pot half full to completely full with dry pellets, and that's including some crushed tea). The tea is typically consumed even hotter than usual here, because the cups are pre-heated before each drink, and the tea is usually consumed very shortly after pouring. I thought it was also interesting in light of the tradition of only drinking 4 cups - maybe the tradition actually has a practical reason if you follow it back long enough. One other thing to remember is that traditionally, TGY wasn't rolled as tightly, so while tradition may have been 3/4 to completely full of dry leaf, if you consider that TGY is usually rolled tighter now, half full might actually be about right by weight.

Indeed. I have some 80's aged oolongs (one TGY, one unspecified, and a couple others) like that and they take up a lot more volume - half full of dry leaf really is about right for those, usually resulting in a loosely full gaiwan/pot once hydrated.

I have also found benefit in preheating cups lately (the role of the cup has been one of the things I've been focusing on lately - cup shape, heat, etc etc - and it really does improve things, but you do have to find ways to drink it without scalding your throat. Slurping would help, and actually improves the taste and aroma (just read a study that found that aromatic volatiles are released in much greater quantities when there is more airflow - on a linear scale, even, so the more air the more aroma... but I digress). I think drinking ice water while drinking tea also helps (and helps keep the taste buds fresh).

The four cup limit could make sense there. I think the enjoyment factor would be a bigger part, but when it comes to gongfu it seems that no one action has only a single purpose. It seems like the Chinese place a fair amount of importance on the practical, especially when practical for multiple reasons (as opposed to importance being placed on things like aesthetics where things may be more ceremony than function).

The article also mentions the local diet in some of these areas as a factor, so it's not clear if tea is the only reason for some of these problems.

That would make sense. It would be hard to get definitive stats in an area like that where everyone is eating and drinking the same things the same way. Those that don't may have reasons that encompass much more than just food and/or tea. Maybe the people drinking tea that hot and eating that food are all smoking, for example, where a non smoker (in that environment) is more likely to be taking more care with just about everything - kind of like vegetarians; the focus on diet is likely to have consequences (positive ones) beyond just avoiding animal products.

I've already known for a long time that I shouldn't be drinking so much strong tea on an empty stomach in the morning, but this article is definitely making me think about that even more.

They did say, though, that the problem was that it causes ulcers that never get a chance to heal because they don't stop drinking the tea. Ulcers are a big enough deal that it's not like you're not going to notice it before it becomes a problem. I've had some teas that hurt when I drank them on an empty stomach, but that just made me back off and eat something.

I think it might be an issue for the green pu'er drinkers, though, that may just be ignoring it. This article does also serve as a good warning that if your tea drinking is causing stomach problems then it shouldn't be ignored.


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Re: interesting topic regarding chaoshan gong fu style tea brewing

ABx wrote:

I have also found benefit in preheating cups lately (the role of the cup has been one of the things I've been focusing on lately - cup shape, heat, etc etc - and it really does improve things, but you do have to find ways to drink it without scalding your throat. Slurping would help, and actually improves the taste and aroma (just read a study that found that aromatic volatiles are released in much greater quantities when there is more airflow - on a linear scale, even, so the more air the more aroma... but I digress). I think drinking ice water while drinking tea also helps (and helps keep the taste buds fresh).

Traditionally, Chinese people don't drink ice water, or cold water at all. This probably has its roots in terms of drinking water safety, but I personally think it's a sound philosophy; I've heard from western people too that room temperature or warmer water is better for digestion. These days, I usually only drink room temperature or hot water, unless cold / ice water is all that's available. Drinking some hot tea drinking water is als oa good way to cleanse the palate and get an idea of what the water you're brewing tea with tastes like.

Slurping is definitely good, both for tasting and for not burning your tongue (though I don't know how much it helps your throat or stomach). I have definitely gotten into the habit of slurping; hopefully it doesn't drive the 20 or so other people within earshot of me at work crazy! I feel a little pretentious doing it, but it does really help your ability to taste things a little (sometimes in a good way, and sometimes in a bad way, like when you slurp an over-brewed sheng pu'er past a section of taste buds that process bitter tastes!)