Basic Tea Brewing
Start with good-tasting water. Experiment with different spring waters. Do not use boiling water when brewing a white, yellow, green or oolong tea. Boiling water “cooks” the leaves of these teas, destroying their flavor.
White or Yellow Teas: 70° – 75°C (160° – 170°F) (Shrimp eyes)
Green Teas: 75º – 80ºC (170º – 180ºF) (fish eyes)
Oolongs: 80° – 90° C (180° – 195° F) (dancing pearls)
Black Teas: 90ºC – 95ºC (195º – 210ºF) (stormy seas)
Pu-Erhs: 95º – 105ºC (212ºF) Full, rolling boil (raging torrent)
Choose a ceramic teapot, or covered cup, with a four- to twelve-ounce capacity. A teapot with a built-in strainer will prevent leaves from entering the spout. Preheat the teapot with hot water.
Use approximately four grams of green, white, or black tea per eight ounces of water. Use twice that amount for Oolongs and Pu-erhs. Brew these teas loose, not in a tea ball or infuser, to allow the flavor to develop fully. Different teas have widely varying volumes; visually, your teapot will be more full of leaves when brewing a lighter tea rather than a denser tea.
At first, until familiar with a particular tea, steep for a minute or two, then taste. Pay attention to the taste rather than the color. When the tea tastes right to you, serve or pour off the entire contents to avoid oversteeping. Most rare teas are meant to be infused several times; simply add more hot water when needed, increasing steeping times with subsequent infusions.
Experiment with steeping times. The tender teas – white, yellow, and green – need less time than the more oxidized teas and often can only be re-steeped once. Oolongs can be re-steeped twice. Black teas can be re-steeped 3 or 4 times. A good Pu-erh can be re-steeped up to 30 times – each steeping taking longer.
If you want a stronger tea, use more tea leaves. Too long a steep will result in a bitter tea. The exception is the Pu-erh, because the short early steepings leach the bitter compounds out, leaving a smoother tea for the later, longer steepings.
The Best Way to Store Tea
All tea has a shelf life. Proper storage is necessary to prolong freshness.
Store tea in opaque containers to avoid contact with light.
Use a container with a tight-sealing lid to guard against moisture and preserve flavor. It can be clay, glass, or metal – glass gives the least alteration in flavor, clay enhances the flavor over the years, metals add an unpleasant flavor after a while, especially if it rusts or the lining wears. Mason jars, kept in a dark cabinet, are excellent tea storage containers.
Store in a cool place.
Prepared by Airship OtherNaut and OctopodiCon, LLC