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.
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.
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. 🙂