Steeping tea correctly:
It’s easy brewing the perfect cup of whole leaf tea. Simply add desired amount of leaves to your brewing utensil, brew for recommended time, then remove leaves and enjoy! However, avoid the common mistake of over-steeping at a higher -than-desirable temperature which will result in a bitter cup. Perfect temperature + perfect timing + perfect amount of leaves makes the perfect cup...
Most people who claim they "don't like tea" were repelled by an incorrectly brewed tea. This can create a sad misconception that can last a lifetime... and can also be easily avoided with better brewing techniques.
Many try to cut corners by simply throwing all teas into the same temperature water and serving without any direction. This makes about as much sense as cooking and serving all prime steaks well done or opening a bakery and attempting to bake without ever taking note of the oven temperature... Well...The results will be a bit unsatisfactory.
The following points and information will help you get a perfect brew every time.
A good brew comes in five basic parts: water, amount, tempurature, time and equipment.
Brewed tea is mostly water. If your water "tastes funny", so will your tea. Start with water that tastes good (or doesn’t taste at all, depending on how you look at it).
Fresh water is best. When water boils, oxygen is released. The Chinese call water that has been boiled "dead water". You can't get the best cup of tea from water that has been repeatedly re-boiled.
Using too much tea can make your tea bitter (and your wallet empty!). Too little tea will bring a weak cup. The starting point for ratio of leaves to water is one teaspoon (or 2 grams) of most tea leaves per 8 ounce cup of water. Note that most american mugs are nearly twice that at 10 to 12 ounces. Here's where it can get a little complicated: A large, open leaf tea like a White tea or some Oolongs may require two or more teaspoons to equal 2 grams. Broken or tightly rolled teas like gunpowder may pack as many as 3 grams of tea into a single teaspoon. At the end of the day perfection is less important than keeping an eye on the leaf size and adjusting based on your taste preferences.
The ideal temperature depends on the type of tea. Use near-boiling water (180-200F) when preparing Black, dark Oolong and can even be boiling for Herbal teas. However, it's important to use cooler water when steeping more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas. Water that is too hot will cause a delicate tea to taste overly bitter or astringent. Water that is too cool will cause a tea to taste flavorless and weak. If you don't have a thermometer or a kettle that has a digital thermometer gauge, you'll typically find that boiling water that is allowed to sit for 5 minutes will have dropped to roughly 180F.
They say that "time heals all wounds." However, it also makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 2-5 minutes for most black teas, such as Tippy Golden, Island Coconut, or Cream Earl Grey, depending on your preference for strength. Any longer, and they'll become overly astringent and puckery. For light Oolong, and green teas, such as a Jasmine Green or a Gunpowder, a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 1-2 minutes - 3 if you're looking for a strong cup.
Proper equipment will make brewing tea a breeze. Choose equipment that makes brewing tea fun and easy.
There is one more prerequisite to a perfect cup:
Buy enough to keep you stocked but fresh. Don't stockpile tea for next holiday season's company! Enjoy your fresh tea within 6 months to a year. It will taste better that way - fresh.
Owner - Teamaster