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.