Friday, March 27, 2015

Does a flat teapot can brew better tasting tea?

Why Flat Shape Is Good

You might have heard different opinions regarding the ideal shape of a teapot. Here is one of the opinions. Some people says that flat pots can brew good tasting tea. I’ve heard two reasons about it. First, people tend to put a lot of tea leaves in a flat pot because it has a large bottom and it makes the leaves inside look few. It’s a visual deception, so people put more leaves than usual and it helps to make delicious tea. The other reason is that the leaves can be laid widespread, not piled up like in an ordinary pot. So, when it is brewed, the leaves can smoothly absorb water with less stress. If you measure the leaves, the first reason won’t matter. I wonder how much impact to the taste the second reason has.


I did a test in brewing gyokuro with a flat and tall vessels (Tea: 3g, Water: 15ml, Time: 2 min). I tried several rounds of tests. As a result, I found a slight advantage in taste on the flat vessel even though the difference is not significant. The tea brewed in the flat one has mellow and rich flavor. The one in the tall vessel was dull with washy body. I also found a slightly rough and bitter flavor. But again, it has very little difference. 

Unexpected Outcome

In the series of tests, I found an interesting result. The tea within the flat vessel has slightly more amount of extract. This is also a very slight difference. But why? If a flat pot helps with smooth absorption of water, it should have had less extract. This happening doesn’t support the aforementioned idea. Only the assumption that I have is that when you pour tea with the flat pot, less water might remain in between the leaves. If so, it has a good impact on the taste of the second or later brewing. I could not come up with a convincing explanation on this issue. I’m sorry.

Try Flat

To conclude this topic, I have to say that the advantage is not that significant. It could be within accidental error. In gyokuro brewing, slight difference of conditions can affect tastes. Quality and amount of ingredients, water temperature and brewing time has much more impact. If you want to enjoy tea casually, you don’t have to be picky about the shape of the pot. 
However, it is also fact that I kind of find the tea brewed in the flat vessel tastes slightly better than the other one. I can’t explain the reason scientifically. A flat pot might encourage smooth draining. Water calmly flows off through the leaves and it doesn’t tumble the leaves around. It is good to brew tea slowly and carefully without damaging fine leaves. I could not clear everything up regarding this topic, please try it yourself to see how you like it. For people who are fond of gyokuro and premium sencha, the flat pot is definitely worth a try.