I sincerely believe that brewing and tasting tea is not at all complicated. All you need is a vessel (preferably a teapot, but it is not required), a kettle (or a little saucepan, a stove or a warmer unit), filtered water and good quality loose leaf tea; of course, a moment to relax and appreciate the aromas and flavours, along with the relief and enjoyment of a beautiful beverage.
A beautiful tea always looks good in the cup, smells good up close, taste good on your tongue, feels good in the body and always puts you in a good mood.
For successful steeping, here are some helpful hintsto keep in mind:
- Whatever vessel you use, teapot or other, ensures it does not retain odours. Certain materials retain odours that could spoil your tea.
- Also, you want to make sure the vessel is big enough for the quantity of leaves you are steeping. Keep in mind that a tea leaf triples in volume while steeping. If you use a teapot or cup with an infusing basket, the dried leaves should not fill up more than one-third of the space. If not, the leaves will not get enough space to expand and release their flavours.
- While using tap water, it is highly recommended passing it through a charcoal filter, like Brittato get rid of chlorine and Fluor. You can also use bottled water, if so; choose one with pH as close as possible to 7.
- Follow the brewing instructions on water temperature and steeping time for each type of tea. A too hot or not hot enough water will give flat and off liquor without flavour and aromas. If steeped too long, the liquor will get bitter and astringent more than it should, whereas short steeped liquor won’t deliver all its flavour.
- The water temperature, WHAT A HEADACHE! If you consider drinking tea on a regular basis, and that you’re willing to spend money on expensive premium loose leaf tea, let me suggest that you buy a specialty tea kettle with temperature control by tea type. They cost around +/- $100, believe me it is well worth it. If you don’t want to spend that much money, here is what you can do :
- Bring water up to boiling point. NEVER LET BOILING GO ON AS OXYGEN WILL GO OUT. At that point it will get to 100ºC. This is where the bubbles get to surface without explode and make splashes.
- Once boiling is done, the water temperature will drop off about one degree every minute (take off or lift the lid).
- To go faster, use a cooling pot, preferably one with a spout such as a glass measuring cup, pitcher or other. Once in the cooling pot, the water temperature will drop off 10 º C. and then, one degree every minute.
- Finally, for an optimum result, warm up the teapot and the cups with hot water. Throw out the water then place the leaves into the teapot. Put the lid on and let the leaves warm up for a minute. This will wake up the aromas; lift up the lid halfway and smell the aromas, put the lid back until you pour in the water. Throw out the water from the cups prior to pouringthe liquor.
- It is important to stop the steeping process as soon as the timer goes off. If you use a teapot with an infusing basket, take it off right away. If you steeped the loose leaves directly in the teapot, pour out all the liquid into the cups or another teapot (that has been warmed up) and put it on a warmer. Use a strainer to filter the leaves.
- If you keep your tea on a warmer or into a thermos, some helpful hints that non oxidised or lightly oxidised teas such as white, green and some oolongs, will get bitter and astringent past two hours. Black teas are more stables and can stand up to three or four hours.
- Before you take your first sip, appreciate the aromas. Smell the perfumes released from the cup.
- Look at the liquor colour.
- Taste the liquor. Take a mouth full while slurping it with a bit of air. Let it go around your mouth from under your tongue to your palate and taste all the flavors before to swallow. Then, exhale a bit of air from your nose to your mouth and once again, taste the flavours that will seem different.
- Lastly smell the aromas that are released from your empty cup.
Let me suggest that you keep record of you tasting notes in a little book. Write down the supplier, the date of purchase, the harvesting season, and the growing altitude. With each of your tastings, you will get to know your preferences. Be curious, search about each tea. There is a lot to learn about origin, history, terroir, production and different brewing styles (Gong Fu Cha, Sen Cha Do) and accessories…
Enjoy many relaxing moments while drinking good tea!