Before I start, I would like to announce that today is my birthday. 😀 And on this day, I would like to talk to you about the pros and cons of brewing with a scale, as well as how using a scale changed my brewing style.

Background

For as long as I have been drinking Japanese green tea, I have been a touch and feel brewer. I enjoy using only my instincts to produce a cup of tea; I feel a certain level of intimacy with the tea is attained this way. However, everything changed a few months ago when I bought a scale.

I always used a small wooden spoon to measure tea leaves. Although it is a standard size (1 tablespoon) I realized that to better communicate in reviews and guides, I would need to provide hard numbers for leaf amounts, rather than ambiguous spoonfuls. Same with temperature. I have become very good at guessing how hot the water is, but I felt that pinpoint accuracy was required, if the information on this site was to be worth anything.

The scale I purchased was the AWS-100. It can measure up to 100g with accuracy of one hundredth of a gram. Accuracy of a tenth of a gram is all that is needed for Japanese green tea, but this one was on sale. 😛

Upsides and Downsides

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pro: Using a scale has lead to a better communication of my brewing parameters. In fact, it has also lead me to a better understanding of how I brew.

Con: My ability to judge leaf by sight has become less accurate. This is unfortunate as I won’t always have a scale with me when brewing.

Pro: I have been able to spot patterns in tea, and better predict how I should brew a tea that is new to me.

Con: I experiment less. This doesn’t sound like a big issue, but some of the best brews I have enjoyed were when I accidentally used too much or too little leaf, and had to compensate with temperature and time.

Bottom Line

Since I started using a scale, I have found my brews are consistently at a higher quality. Also, I have noticed the amount of leaf I use subtly going down. I miss using only my instincts,  but I feel that using a scale has fundamentally changed my brewing for the better.

Do you use a scale? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

Griff is the co-founder of The Art of Japanese Green Tea website and video series.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Omita

    Hi & happy birthday!

    I use a scale the first time I brew a tea. I weight the amount of tea that fits in my measuring spoon to get an idea of the volume/space/weight of the leaf of that kind of tea. Nexts brews I only use the measuring spoon and I’m quite accurate.

    Greetings!

  2. Peter

    Yes, I use a scale each and every time I start a new brewing session. How else can one fairly compare/judge different teas if there is no consistency of tea weights (and amount of water used)?

  3. Ryan

    I use a scale. I agree that there is more intimacy without using one. But I would also argue that that intimacy is something you get used to and will lose it’s distinct appeal when you go long enough without using a scale. In other words, you feel more intimate with not using a scale when you’ve been using one for a while. At least that is my perception.

    I guess the real reason I use a scale is that for one: It really isn’t inconvenient. And for two: It guarantees that my tea sessions will not have some big mistake in them. Optimal flavor every time. You could also argue that it saves tea because you’re never using more tea than is necessary.

    I don’t really use a thermometer, but I definitely see the advantage of using one. I think a thermometer is most critical when the tea demands a very low temperature like some asamushi’s do. And how most gyokuro’s do.

    I think it’s good you use a scale and thermometer when you’re doing reviews.

  4. Ryan

    Before I start, I would to announce that today is my birthday. 😀 And on this day, I would like to talk to you about the pros and cons of brewing with a scale, as well as how using a scale changed my brewing style.

    * I would LIKE *

    I hope you enjoy my birthday gift of correcting your atrocious grammar.

    Happy Birthday!

  5. Ricardo Caicedo

    Happy Birthday Griff!

    I use a scale for reviews. But when making tea that I’m used to brewing, I already have the hang of it with my teaspoon so I just do it that way.

    The problem with using teaspoons instead of measuring by weight is that some teas are light and occupy more volume, like houjicha. For those, you often need twice the same volume as another tea to make the same weight.

    1. Griff

      Thanks Ricardo 😀

      Good points on measuring based on volume rather than weight. Houjicha, sencha, genmaicha – they vary so much that it can be difficult to tell how many spoonfuls are required.

  6. Deynise

    First of all, Happy Birthday Honorable Tea Master! Many happy steepings today–

    Perhaps if you continue to use a scoop first, then measure what you scooped next, you can continue to get the best of both worlds. Precision is useful when you want consistency but after that a bit of serendipity is also nice to promote discovery.
    I don’t use a scale but I do use a Pyrex one cup measure as a yuzumashi ( sorry if I spell that wrong) to measure, cool and serve the tea. Not very elegant! Also I use a thermometer to measure temperature.

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