A wise man once said that you can not make good cup of tea out of inferior tea, yet you can waste superior tea by brewing it wrongly. Here are some tips that can help those who would like to go further than pouring just hot water on their tea. Suggestions here are based on western style brewing.
First of all you gotta get brewing time, amount of tea and water right. Brewing time varies depending on the tea you brew. Yet as a general rule of thumb 3 minute brewing time is quite enough for most teas. Similarly, you’ll do just fine by using 3 gr loose tea for 200-250 ml water. If you want stronger flavor use more tea leaves rather than lengthening steeping time which will make your tea taste bitter.
Secondly you need right temperature for water. This is more complicated than brewing time. Required water temperature changes significantly with type of tea you want to brew. Generally it’s 100 ºC for black teas (some Darjeeling teas might require a little below boiling water), 90 ºC for most oolong teas and 80-85 ºC for most white/green and yellow teas (Japanese green teas might go down to 60 ºC). Problem here is how to measure water temperature. There are several alternatives: First you can get a kettle with a built-in temperature (that might be a tad pricey). Secondly you can buy a hot beverage thermometer which does not cost you more than 10 bucks. Or you can go traditional. How does that work? Bring water first to boiling and then wait for a while for water temperature go down. As you practice more you’ll see you get better. Practice makes perfect!
You need good quality water. First rule here is to avoid tap water and use bottled water as much as possible. You can use distilled water as well.
Not all teas are created equal. As I pointed out earlier you can not brew perfect cup of tea out of run-of-the-mill tea. This means you have to spend on tea more than you usually do but believe me it’s worth it! Tea is one of those little things in life than can keep you going! Well you know what they say ‘if tea can not fix it it’s a serious problem’.
Get a small brewing vessel. You should not use colossal teapots for brewing. Go for smaller teapots, less than 300 ml. If you’d like to go for something advance get a Yixing teapot or gaiwan which will double your joy. Yet any porcelain/glass teapot or mug will do too. One reminder though: One thing tea leaves dislike is to be squeezed into a cramped infusers. Let them float freely and they’ll surprise you!
It’s time to forget about rules! Now you know the basics, it’s time to experiment with brewing practices and strike perfect balance for your tea palate. Nevertheless don’t go overboard!