Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Steeping Fresh Whole Tea

1. Use whole tea. Do not use powdered tea bags. In studies we conducted using teabags versus whole teas, the teabags disappointed every single time.

2. Find a convenient implement. Chinese steeping cups might be the easiest--a porcelain cup with a lid and a porcelain basket inside that you remove after steeping. French coffee presses also work well, and many great teapots are available online.

3. Use pure water. Tap water contains chlorine and minerals which can drastically affect the taste of the tea. Infuse the tea with warm water, not boiling. Green and white tea should be in the 160-180 degree range, while oolong and black can be hotter, but does not need to be boiling.

STEP 1: Put the tea in the steeping basket

STEP 2: Put the tea in the cup or pot and add water

STEP 3: Remove the basket and enjoy. Repeat.

In addition to the quantity of tea you use in your cup or pot (Chinese brew it much lighter than westerners), the hotter the water and the longer you steep it, the stronger it becomes. Even high-quality tea can become bitter if steep for too long. 1 to 4 minutes is fine for most teas, according to how strong you want it. If you use a large infuser to make a single cup or very small cups, you may need to steep only a few seconds after the initial infusion.