Posted by Joel Freilich on 6/25/2012 to Green Tea
When brewing a cup of tea, there are objective factors which will definitely improve your results, and there are subjective factors that appeal to your personal palate. We will cover both in turn.
THE OBJECTIVE FACTORS:
The quality of the water. The quality of the tea brewed is critically influenced by the quality of water you begin with. The best results are obtained by using filtered or purified water. High quality spring water will produce excellent results. Tap water can be suboptimal due to municipal treatments, such as added fluoride and chlorine. If you must use tap water, filter it and never use hot tap water. Hot tap water has been known to leech additional impurities from water pipes. The temperature of the water. If you are boiling a kettle of water and immediately steeping you tea in it, you are not getting a perfect cup. Different types of tea require different temperatures, but boiling water at 212 plus degrees Fahrenheit is too hot. As a rule of thumb black tea should be prepared with water around 200 degrees; white, green, and oolong teas should be prepared using water from 175 to 185 degrees. The water should be brought to a boil, but then allowed to cool to the proper temperature.If are using loose leaf teas, these may be brewed using slightly higher temperatures when utilizing the leaves for second and third brewings. The oxygen content of the water. For tea's full flavor to be revealed, it is important that the water have an adequate level of oxygen. To insure this, let the water breathe by running the tap for a few moments before filling your kettle, or if you are using bottle water you can pour it from cup to cup a few times. Another tip is to never allow the water to over-boil. When the water begins to boil, immediately remove it from the heat source. Doing so prevents the loss of oxygen. The highest quality teas are picked as little as once a year using only the youngest, finest leaves and leaf buds. Wissotzky uses only the best tea leaves around.
THE SUBJECTIVE FACTORS.
Steeping time. Though there are guidelines here for each type of tea, the time you steep your tea is a personal preference. Generally, white and green tea should be steeped for the shorter periods of time, roughly 2 to 4 minutes. Black and Oolong teas should be steeped for longer: anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes. The longer the tea is steeped, the more tannins released, and more you may find it to be bitter. Do not judge the tea by the depth of its color, however; some teas produce a lighter liquor than others. Experiment with different times to suit your preference.Herbal teas may be steeped longer as they do not use Camelia sinesis leaves, and therefore do not release tannins. Generally, they are infused for 5 to 7 minutes. Ratio of tea to water. Just as with steeping times, the quantity of tea used is a personal preference with some general guidelines. Black tea should be steeped in a ratio of 1 teaspoon tea to 8 to 12 ounces of water. Other teas should be steeped in a ratio of 1 tablespoon to 8 to 12 ounces of water. Using more tea per ounce will result in stronger brews, and is preferable to steeping longer as it will not increase bitterness.
ADDITIONAL TIPS: It is preferable to pour water over the tea leaves rather than to place the leaves in the water. Always remove the leaves from the brew after the appropriate time, do not allow them to remain in you pot or cup. Tea leaves need room to expand. When using a strainer, be sure to choose one that has enough space for them to move freely. Always warm your teapot before use. This can be done by circling a small amount of your boiling water in the pot and discarding beforehand.