Here are some tips for brewing tea leaves known to be tried and tested by tea-making gurus over the years.
Planning a traditional tea party? There is nothing more refreshingly healthy than brewing tea out of fragrant and therapeutic leaves. Think about a string of health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation, releasing accumulated bodily toxins, lowering risks of heart diseases and stroke, boosting of brain power and, of course, anti-aging. Potent stuff, isn’t it? While there is no right or wrong way of brewing loose tea leaves, adequate care must be allotted to ensure getting the best taste as well as harnessing its potent compounds.
1. Always choose organic tea leaves. This virtually means no herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, GMO or any chemical matter infused to the plant. Keep in mind that even when dried, those tea leaves will still be infused with such hazardous chemicals. So, always pick a USDA certified organic to ensure safety and risk-free drinking. For a green tea lover, here’s a great pick from Amazon: Heavenly Tea Leaves Tea Sampler containing organic Sencha, Chun Mee, China Green and Green Paradise flavors.
2. When you have already chosen your preferred tea leaves, it is also important to consider teapot’s material. Yixing clay pots are touted to be the best pots in the world for black teas as they can retain heat over longer periods of time. Glass and porcelain, on the other hand, release heat thus, making them great for green or white tea leaves or any tea that doesn’t need heavy extraction. Today, modern teapots or mugs are equipped with infusers to help brew tea faster and within its appropriate temperature. Preheating the teapot, however, is still widely practiced in traditional tea-making. This means pouring some boiling water into the pot then, transferring them into the drinking cups to preheat or warm them.
3. Take note of proper water temperature when boiling leaves, too. Black or dark Oolong teas as well as Tisanes are best prepared with near-boiling water to ensure harnessing as much oxygen from the water. White, green and light Oolong teas, on one hand, must not be prepared with boiling water. When brewing green tea leaves, always keep in mind that the finer the tea leaves means the lower the temp. Ideally, allowing boiled water to sit for 2 to 3 minutes before pouring into a teapot is highly recommended for “lighter” teas.
4. Steep time must also be observed. Too short or too long can create drastic change to the tea leaves quality and taste. As a rule, the finer leaves often infuse faster than bigger ones. The key is to pay attention to the taste rather than to the color. Japanese green teas, for instance, need only to be brewed for 1 to 2 minutes while Chinese green teas require 2 to 3 minutes. Light Oolong teas also take less time to steep than dark ones, and so on.
5. While taste is a personal preference, experts standby certain standards in measuring tea leaves to brew. Ideally, every 6 ounces of water will make do with 3g or one heaping teaspoon of dry tea leaves. However, some tea leaves are lighter in terms of weight than others. Other important aspects to consider during brewing includes infusion time, temperature and equipment used for the process. This chart below will make a good guide in brewing tea leaves for you:
|Infusion Range||Temperature||Equipment Material for Brewing||Steep Time|
|White||3 teaspoons||3mins||176 to 185-deg F||Glass or porcelain||2 to 5 mins|
|Green||1 to 2 teaspoons||2-3mins||158 to 176-deg F||Glass, porcelain or ceramic||(Japanese): 1 to 2 mins
(Chinese): 2 to 3mins
|Black||1 to 2 teaspoons||3 to 5 mins||203-deg F||porcelain||3 to 5 mins|
|Oolong (dark)||3 teaspoons||3 mins||203-deg F||Yixing clay pot or ceramic||3 to 5 mins|
|Oolong (light)||2 to 3 teaspoons||2 to 3 mins||185-deg F||Porcelain or yixing||2 to 3 mins|
|Tisanes||1 to 2 teaspoons||3 mins||210-deg F||Glass or porcelain||5 to 10 mins|
6. The water you use also means a great deal to brewing tea leaves correctly. Keep in mind that the best tea can only be as good as the type of water of which it is prepared with. Fresh, filtered or bottled spring water is highly recommended for their natural mineral content and higher oxygen level which enhance the tea leaves taste. Do not use distilled or tap water as this will only deliver blah-tasting tea.
7. Proper storage for your leaves is a must. Regardless of the price or quality of your tea leaves, its shelf life can only hold in accordance to how you store them. Keep your precious tea leaves away from light, air, and moisture as well as from penetrating odors from other food items. Store it in a cool dry place using an opaque container with airtight lid. Do not refrigerate teas. Do not keep them in glass or plastic jars. Ceramic storage with airtight lid makes a great choice.
Bottom line is tea-making is both an art and a science. These tips for brewing tea leaves literally just touch up on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making teas that do not only taste heavenly but also smells like paradise, too. Most quality leaves often have detailed instructions at the back of their packaging. So take note of them when you brew your tea leaves.
Tea leaves in water.
Hot. Steeping, brewing. Steaming.
— melissa moon (@thehaikufairy) April 21, 2017