Brewing Tea

Preparing Tea

Tea can be prepared in a variety of styles, using many different types of tea pots, vessels, utensils, serving pitchers, cups and water temperatures. Tea preparation throughout cultures and centuries is as diverse as tea itself.

A Guide to Purchasing a Tea Pot

Teapots seem to follow us through life like a dear and cherished friend, so take the time to choose the right teapot to accompany you. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Check to ensure the pot pours evenly and is not too heavy.
  • Check the spout opening – elongated or oval openings are less likely to drip than round openings.
  • Check the handle to see if it’s well-balanced and is comfortable to hold.
  • Check the handle to make sure it is not hollow or it would be too hot to hold.
  • Check the lid to see that it fits securely. A small hole at the top is said to help with even pouring by letting air into the pot.

Whichever teapot you choose for everyday use, treat it with respect and care. It will become your most treasured possession, providing you with cup after cup of marvellous tea that relaxes, revitalizes, warms, and cheers your soul.

Simplified “Gung-Fu” Style Tea Brewing

In Asia “Gung-Fu” style brewing is the most often used and preferred method for preparing tea. It differs from the traditional way that tea is brewed in Western cultures. The main differences are:

  • Smaller tea pot
  • Larger quantity of tea leaves
  • Shorter steeper times
  • Tea leaves are steeped a number of times before being discarded

Tea Utensils

  • Small tea pot
  • Small, shallow tea cups
  • Tea board
  • Tea accessories – tong for holding heated cups, small spoon for the tea leaves, small pick to keep the mouth of the tea pot from becoming clogged with leaves.

Basic Steps

  1. Boil water to just below a rolling boil
  2. Place tea pot, cups onto the tea board – place cups in a semi-circle around the pot so that their sides are touching each other
  3. Pour the boiled water over the tea pot and cups to rinse them – use the tongs to empty the small cups – your fingers should not touch the cups
  4. Fill the small pot about 1/3 full of tea leaves
  5. Add hot water and immediately pour off – this washes the leaves
  6. Add hot water a second time – steep for approximately 30secs
  7. Pour the tea slowly over the cups, without lifting the tea pot between cups – this ensures each cup has a consistent flavour
  8. Once again add water to the pot and allow to steep about an extra 15 seconds
  9. Repeat this process until there is no flavour remaining in the leaves – high quality leaves can often be infused 8 to 10 times
  10. Each time hot water is added increase steeping time 10 – 15 seconds, the third infusion is most often the most flavourful – the leaves have totally unfurled and are releasing their flavour.


Tea Preparation in Western Culture

Preparing a good cup of loose leaf tea is neither difficult nor time consuming. Just follow the 5 steps below to ensure superior results each time.

Five Steps for Preparing a Great Cup of Tea

  1. Use a preheated teapot.
  2. Add one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup. Experiment with leaf quantity as you go, you may have to adjust for personal taste preferences.
  3. For black and oolong teas, bring fresh, cold water to a hard, rolling boil and pour it over the tea leaves. For white and green teas, use water that has just started to steam slightly. If white or green tea tastes bitter, the water may have been too hot.
  4. Allow black tea to infuse 3 to 5 minutes, green tea for 1 to 3 minutes, white and oolong tea for 2 to 5 minutes. Once again adjust infusing times to your personal taste. If the tea turns out to be bitter or harsh, it is often a sign of over-steeping. Do not cover white and green teas while steeping as this “stews” the leaves and may leave a bitter taste.
  5. Separate the leaves from the tea and serve.

Top grade green, oolong and white teas are good for multiple infusions – just add new hot water to the pot and increase steeping time slightly. Repeat until the flavour starts to fade.

Summary of Brewing Temperatures

Black teaHard, rolling boil200 – 210˚F / 95˚C
Green, Oolong teaFull bubbles, steam rising180 – 190˚F / 90˚C
High grade green, white, sencha, pearlsSmall bubbles, slow steam starts to rise150 – 160˚F / 70˚C
High grade green, gyokuro, lung chingSlight sign of bubbles, steam, water is not too hot to touch140˚F / 60˚C
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