Tea Tips and Knowledge
Always start with fresh water
not water that has been previously boiled or has been sitting around. First, use a small amount of heated water to warm the pot before beginning to make your tea.
Next, measure the correct amount of tea into your vessel
A good standard guideline is one rounded teaspoon per eight oz. cup. This refers to a measuring teaspoon, not the teaspoon in your silverware set which is usually much larger than a true measuring teaspoon. This is just a general guideline. A very fine particle tea like Roobois is denser and thus more tea fits on a spoon, so you would probably only use a level teaspoon per cup. With a very large leafed bulky tea like White Peony you would only get a little bit of leaf on the teaspoon, so you would probably use two teaspoons per cup or a heaping tablespoon.
Different teas require different steeping temperatures
Using the wrong steeping temperature is probably the most common error people make when preparing tea. You can buy a thermometer to gauge temperature or purchase an electric cordless programmable kettle.
My favorite is the Cuisinart PerfectTemp.
Black tea generally should be made with water at a full, rolling boil, 212 degrees.
Oolong tea (also known as wulong tea) should be made with water a little bit below boiling, between 185 and 200 degrees. 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 165 and 180 degrees. The steam should be wafting or gently swirling out of the kettle.
White teas should be steeped anywhere from 175 – 185 degrees, when you see the very first hint of steam.
Pu’er teas are very different. I have made them with cooler water, similar to a green tea but my favorite method is to make them with boiling water and steep them a long time.
Herbal teas should typically be made with boiling water.
Rooibos should typically be made with boiling water.
Different teas also require different steeping times.
Black teas steep 3-5 minutes. Darjeelings 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. It is common to warm oolong leaves first in order to achieve full flavor or fragrance. To do this pour hot water (200 degrees) over tealeaves, pour out immediately and discard the water. Now the tea is ready for steeping.
Green teas should typically be steeped for much less time, 2-3 minutes. Stronger ones as little as 1 minute or to taste.
Whites teas typically should be steeped 3-4 minutes, although some can be steeped much longer with good results.
Pu’er teas should be steeped at least 7-10 minutes. Some people like Pu’ers up to 20 minutes. To keep pu’er hot, while steeping 20 minutes, simply cover your pot or cup with a tea cozy or even wrap it with a dishtowel. It will stay piping hot.
Rooibos typically should be steeped a minimum of 4-6 minutes, some for up to 10 minutes. The general rule with herbal infusions is steep longer for stronger.
All teas require room for the leaf to expand greatly in size as it steeps
Whatever preparation method you choose, make sure there is enough room for the leaf to expand up to 3-5 times in size. Brewing the leaves loose in the pot and then straining works well. This is why you should not use a tea ball because it makes poor tea. There is no room in the tea ball for the leaf to expand so the flavor never gets released into the liquid. A gravity style infuser is a great choice and can be purchased in our Tea Store. It is user friendly and neat and also allows for multiple infusions.
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.