For centuries tea masters and tea enthusiasts the world over have sought the perfect method of preparing tea.
Either as part of a ritual or simply to obtain the best possible beverage, each culture (primarily China, Japan, India and the UK) have developed their own art of tea making. Those who wish to follow these customs and rituals, can often discover new experiences associated with the long history of drinking tea. The Japanese tea ceremony is one of strict practices that takes years to master.
Methods of preparing tea are a matter of personal choice and preference. There is no "right" way to prepare and serve tea, however we hope you find the following tips helpful with brewing a cup.
There are seven main factors that influence the quality of brewed tea:
- The quality of the tea
- The quality of the water
- Accurate measurements
- Correct steeping temperatures
- Proper brewing time
- Allowing the tea leaf to expand fully
- Separating the tea leaves from the liquid at the end of the steeping process
1. Tea Quality:
Choosing the best tea is not always easy, there are so many brands and choices in the market place. Many supermarkets generally only carry teabags filled with low quality tea leaves or dust. Although they might seem like a bargain, these "big name high street brands" are not really worthy of being considered real tea. Health food stores and Speciality food stores are more likely to carry teas of a higher grade.
When it comes to buying tea on line ensure you choose a reputable supplier whose focus is on the quality of the Tea as a natural product. Any flavours that are used should be 100% natural and not synthetic. Teabags if used should not be bleached.
2. Water Quality:
Water makes up over 90 % of the end product so the water quality is vital. Taste can vary greatly between geographical areas. If your water tastes really good out of the tap chances are it will make good tea. If there is any noticeable unpleasant taste in the tap water, e.g. Metallic, chlorine, earthiness etc. that taste will most likely come through in the tea. A simple inexpensive solution is a water filter, spring water can also work very well. Do not use distilled water or water that has been previously boiled or has been sitting around. Use a small amount of heated water to warm the teapot / cup(s) before beginning to make your tea.
3. Accurate Measurements:
A good standard guideline is 1 rounded teaspoon per 8 oz. cup.. Approx. 2 grams for every 1 cup 250ml of water.
A very fine particle tea like Nilgiri Tea is denser and thus more tea fits on a spoon, so one would probably only use a scant or level teaspoon per cup. With a very large leafed bulky tea only a little bit of leaf would rest on the teaspoon, so you would probably use two heaping teaspoons per cup. The approximate weight of these two would then be the same.
4. Correct Brewing Temperature:
Different teas require different brewing (or steeping ) temperatures. Using the wrong temperature is probably the most common error people make when preparing tea. You can buy a thermometer to gauge temperature or treat yourself to an electric kettle that has temperature control. One can look for visual clues.
Black tea generally should be made with water at a full, rolling boil, 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius)
Oolong tea (also known as wulong tea) should be made with water a little bit below boiling, between 190-203 degrees Fahrenheit (90-95 degrees Celsius). The water should be steaming rapidly and there should many bubbles rising in the kettle, but not really breaking the surface.
Green teas should be made with slightly cooler water, between 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit (72-82 degrees Celsius). The steam should be wafting or gently swirling out of the kettle.
White teas should be made with even cooler water, anywhere from 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit (65- 75 degrees Celsius), when you see the very first hint of steam.
Herbal teas should typically be made with boiling water. 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius)
5. Proper brewing time:
Different teas also require different brewing (or steeping) times.
Black teas steep 3-6 minutes. Darjeeling's are the exception, they should be steeped 2-3 minutes.
Oolong teas (also known as wulong tea) vary dramatically and you need to experiment or follow the suggested steeping instructions on the bag. Many oolongs (wulongs) are perfect at 3-4 minutes, some need 6-8 minutes.
Green teas should typically be steeped for much less time, 2-3 minutes.
Whites teas typically should be steeped around 2 minutes, although some can be steeped much longer with good results.
Puerh teas should be steeped at least 7-8 minutes.
Herbals Infusions typically should be steeped a minimum of 4-6 minutes, some for up to 10 minutes.
6. Allowing the tea leaf to expand:
All teas require room for the leaf to expand greatly in size as it steeps. Whatever preparation method you use make sure there is enough room for the leaf to expand up to 3 times in size. Brewing the leaves loose in the pot and then straining works well. If using a teabag, it should only really be 50% or less filled. It is also important that the bag is not bleached or treated in any way that might influence the taste profile of the tea
7. Separating the tea leaves from the liquid at the end of the brewing process:
Finally you need to separate the leaves from the liquid when the tea has steeped the proper length of time. Most teas will turn bitter if steeped too long. Using a tea infuser makes this step easy. Simply straining the brewed tea away from the leaves works well also. if working from tea bags then remove the tea bag from the water.
We hope that you have found our tips useful.
Enjoy your cup of choice.