Insani-Tea: Brewing an ENTIRE Beeng in One Setting!
2020 has been a chaotic year. To add, I ‘m a chaotic person and love chaotic things. This year though, I finally met my match with chaos by drinking an entire 50g beeng in one setting. Inspired by Cwyn's Death by Tea Blog where she brewed a 100g tea-gourd in one setting, I decided to brew a 50g beeng of 2018 BangDong — sent to me by Crimson Lotus Tea! In a social-media event, I started this brew and continued it throughout the week, including doing an Instagram LIVE-Stream (click HERE to watch), and got to interact with you guys on day 2. However, now the ‘insani-tea’ event is over, how did the rest of it go?
Let’s find out!
Dimensions: 50g tea for a 470ml teapot (1g per 9.5ml of water)
Water Temperature: 200ºf
Amount of Water: 19,740 ml/ 5.2 gallons of water
(infusions 1 - 4)
On Day 1, I brought this beeng out and quickly realized it wouldn’t fit in my tea-pot. (which is typically used for blooming tea. Since size mattered in this infusion (hehe), I broke the beeng in half to get it to fit. The first infusion started with a flash-steep. I poured my flash-steep in a coffee pot, which is typically used for pour-overs, and proceeded to pour into ten gong-fu teacups. With the first infusion, the tea was rather soft, smooth, and progressively opened up.
However, by the third infusion, the beeng started to open up more and more — causing the flash steeps to become more and more powerful. Due to the tea’s strength, and high leaf-to-water ratio, I made a more concentrated effort to make the flash-steeps, well, quicker. However, on the fourth infusion, I was able to get a flash-steep that made this tea's texture come out perfect. It was smooth, sweet, mellow, and mediative. However, I took a break, and didn’t return to this session until the next day…
(Infusions 5 - 12)
On day 2, I took the tea out of the fridge as I stored the entire teapot in the fridge overnight. I sat up my tea table, and started recording on Instagram LIVE. During the LIVE, which lasted about 20 minutes (you can watch HERE), I was only able to get through 5 infusions. Each and every infusion became bitter and astringent with light and floral undertones. However, the tea was still opening up, and the beeng hole was still intact and compressed. After doing another round of flash-steeps, the tea’s bitterness and astringency started to slightly subside. However, while still on flash steeps, I was losing control of the session.
Later in the day, I came back to the session and kept going back to the flash-steeps. After a while, tea’s flavor was almost all lost to the bitterness and astringency…
(Infusions 13 — 20)
On day 3, I kept flash-steeping this tea. However, before starting my infusion, I noticed some of the tea leaves were drying towards the top of the teapot — despite being in the fridge with the lid on. While the notes started to mellow out, some of the tea leaves began to mellow out in flavor. Nonetheless, I noticed that since the tea leaves were drying out, the tea’s body was astringent — similar to how a puer tea tastes when left in a very-dry area for too long. After 7 infusions of failing to make this tea work, I put it back in the fridge….
On day 4, I opened this tea to find that, despite my best efforts to re-seal the tea leaves in a thick layer of foil, tea leaves towards the top were dry and crunchy. The nature of the tea leaves changed, and because of the change, the tea’s very-faint floral undertones had disappeared completely behind a layer of liquid-bitter and astringency. After frustrating myself to come up with anything decent, I put the teapot in the fridge for one last time.
On Day 5, I decided to give this tea one more go. I noticed that the tea-leaves were beginning to get slimy, and when brewing, the colour of the liqueur was foggier and foggier. Although the liqueur kept getting foggier since the first overnight stay in the fridge from day 2, today was very noticeable on how much foggier the liqueur was. The tea leaves were now breaking down, and because of so, the tea-filter I was using for this tea kept clogging, and the tea was almost impossible to brew. Though, after managing to get a decent number of brews from day 5, I finished the session and put an end to the insanity.
When I say this, I truly mean it: Cwyn ran so I could walk.
Given that 2020 has been an absolute shit-show, I decided to take control of my own chaos and have fun with it. This 50g beeng of BangDong by Crimson Lotus Tea is, in its own definition, a beautiful tea. However, with such a massive session, I quickly lost control of the brew.
With a session this large, I concluded that it’s best to drink this tea on the same day. Putting the tea in the fridge overnight changed the physical properties of the tea leaf, and in turn, made it more and more difficult to get something out of the leaves. With that, I felt like I missed out on a huge opportunity by getting something more out of this tea by not brewing it more than I did on day one. If I were able to do this over again, I would hold on to this tea and wait until I had a group of friends over to help me drink it, and not let it go to waste.
Regardless of everything, I was able to glimpse at the beauty of this tea, which added to my frustration when being unable to replicate it on the following days. While this tea session was an encapsulation of the craziness of 2020, I’m reminded that we once had a glimpse of beauty, and with time and patience, we will be reunited with the love and joy of living freely; the love and joy we continue to lust for every day...