Brewing loose leaf tea is very different from dipping a teabag in a cup. You need few rules before you start enjoying your tea. And this can be very intimidating as tea is one of the oldest beverages with its 3000 years of history. But it doesn't have to. To make the perfect tea every time, you need to adopt few principles and avoid some pitfalls.
But first of all, let's clarify the lingo. If steeping and brewing are part of the making of tea, there is a difference between steeping and brewing a tea: Brewing is the procedure for preparing tea and steeping tea is the process of making tea or the second phase if you prefer and starts when hot water is poured onto the leaves.
Now read these 3 rules:
- Know your H2O: Avoid poor quality and over-boiled water. 98% of tea is water, so water is key to make a good tea. Tap water is OK but filtered or spring water is better to give the best flavour to your tea. Avoid ultra-hot fast boiled microwaved water too drastic for delicate tea leaves and always use cold and not hot water to get your boiled water.
- Use the proper method of pouring, steeping and vessel: Always slowly pour hot water over the leaves to allow them to slowly unfurl and release their complex flavour. For long leaves, use a tall tea glass to watch the curls unfurl nicely. The most common way is to pour hot water over tea leaves in a mug. The other way is to pour hot water over tea leaves in a kettle, and serve in a cup. The last method is the best to experience tea in the pure Chinese tradition but a bit complex. Steep your tea in a kettle, pour in a serving bowl, stir it carefully to allow the tea to properly infuse its flavour and goodness, then serve in a cup.
- Lastly, consider the 3 T's (type, temperature, time) as per below.
Varieties: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling
- You'll need 0.5 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 96°C (205°F), and steep for 3-5 minutes.
Chinese black tea
Varieties: Keemun, Yunnan, Sichuan
The steeping time varies depending on the cut of the leaf.
- You'll need 0.5 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 90°C (196°F), and steep for 2-3 minutes for finely cut leaves, and up to 5 minutes for large leaves.
- Re-steeping works best when the first steeping is short (2-3 minutes) and the amount 3 grams.
Chinese green tea
Varieties: Biluochun, Chun Mee, Gunpowder, Huangshan Maofeng, Longjing, Lu'an Melon Seed, Taiping Houkui, Xinyang Maojian
- You'll need 1 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 65-80°C (150-175°F), and steep for 3-4 minutes.
Japanese green tea
Varieties: Bancha, Genmaicha, Gyokuro, Hōjicha, Kabusecha, Kukicha, Matcha, Sencha, Shincha
- You'll need 1 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 50-60°C (122-140°F), and steep for 1-3 minutes depending on the tea variety.
Varieties: Fujian, Guangdong, Taiwan, Darjeeling oolong, Assam smoked oolong and Vietnamese oolong
- You'll need 1 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 85–96ºC (185–205ºF), and steep for 1-7 minutes.
- The best way is to steep for 1 minute, then taste every 30 seconds to get the best flavour to your liking.
Varieties: Silvery Tip Pekoe (Bai Hao Yinzhen) also called"Fujian White", White Peony (Bai Mu Dan), Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei), Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei), Ceylon White, African White, Darjeeling White, Imperial Himalayan White Tea
- You'll need 1 teaspoon of tea per cup, a water temperature at 71–88ºC (160–190ºF) and steep for 2 to 5 minutes.
Also called "tisane", which is not true tea but infusion or decoction from the leaves, roots, flowers, stems of other plants, herbs or spices, the steeping time will vary.
- For dried herbal tea, you'll need 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried ingredients per cup and steep up to 15 minutes at 100°C (212°F).
- For fresh herbal tea, you'll need 1-2 teaspoons per cup and steep up to 15 minutes at 100°C (212°F) for tender leaves and flowers, and up to 30 minutes for roots.
We suggest you experiment with your tea and find the best brew suitable to your taste. And make sure to follow us on our social media where we give tons of advice. Enjoy!