3 ways to make a better cup of tea

To brew a cup of tea is not a difficult task. And surely, you need to be led by your own preferences. It can be as simple as to put some leaves into a pot with hot water for a few minutes. But what if I tell you that there is indeed a difference between a cup of tea and a delicious cup of tea that brings out all the wonders and tastefulness of an artisan tea-leaf.

Not only steeping time and water temperature are critical factors, or merely the amount of tea used per cup. Certain teas will taste completely different when prepared by a specific method, like Gong Fu Cha or Senchado. And did you know, that materials and shapes of teaware can affect the flavor? Even just the way water is poured onto the leaves can have an impact.

Truth is, Tea is as versatile as its steeping methods!

Perhaps, the best advice would be to drink as much tea as possible:) as you will learn about a leaf’s character, complexity and enjoyment with every cup you make.

Every good cup, however, starts with quality. The leaves should be full of life, smooth and bright with a fresh fragrance. The water should be clear, fresh or filtered, and with a natural mineral content.

So here, we would like to give you some basic guidelines to make a great cup of tea, every time.

#ONE,The Classic

Brewing Tea with a Teapot

Teapot Image

How?

Bring fresh, cold water to a gentle boil; remove from heat. Use the hot water to warm teaware and cups; drain. Let the water cool to the right temperature. Put the tea leaves into your brewing vessel. Fill with water, and let it steep for the proper length of time (generally 2-3 minutes). Strain the liquor into a fair-cup or another teapot; or directly into the drinking cups.

How much tea?

2-3 grams of leaves per cup (200-250ml).

This can be equal to one or two teaspoons of tea, depending on a certain tea style and/or type. Use 2 teaspoons for larger sized leaves as they have a higher volume, and a little less (1-2 teaspoons) for smaller sized leaves or tightly rolled ones.

Tea Image
Comparison: left - large leaf white tea, right - tightly rolled green tea. Each scoop holds exactly 1g of tea leaves.

What water temperature?

Generally, the more delicate the tea, the lower the temperature. The table below is a guideline to get you on the right track, but keep experimenting and adjust the temperature to your personal liking.

Type of tea Water temperature
White teas, Yellow teas, Green teas 75°C to 85°C
Oolong teas 95°C
Robust black teas
(like Assam or Ceylon)
95°C
Delicate black teas
(like Golden Tip/ Bud)
85°C to 90°C
Puerh 90°C to 95°C

How long should I steep?

2 to 3 minutes. The shorter the steeping time the milder the aroma. Longer infusion periods may result in increased astringency (bitterness) of the liquor.

What kind of teaware?

White teas, mild Green teas, Yellow teas or delicate Oolongs can be steeped in glazed teapots, gaiwans, or glass-ware.

Black teas, robust Green teas, heavily roasted/oxidized Oolongs or Puerh’s are best steeped in unglazed, clay teapots or gaiwans.

(Read more about different styles of teapots, here!)

#TWO, The Gourmet

Brewing Tea Gong Fu Style

Gong Fu is the traditional way of tea preparation which originated around 1800 in China. It offers the best way to experience the complex aromas of fine tea with all your senses and attention.

To brew a tea Gong Fu style would mean that you would use a larger amount of leaves per cup (about 5 to 6 times more), and steep them for a shorter period of time (10-20 seconds for the first few steeps). This not only allows for multiple infusions, it also increases the intensity or thickness of the tea liquor beyond anything a classic teapot brew could achieve. The high tea-to-water ratio facilitates the release of more complex flavors, and you will notice that every brew has a slightly different taste profile.

How?

Gong Fu tea involves brewing the leaves in a smaller clay teapot or gaiwan. Heat filtered water to the right temperature and warm your teaware. Use about 10 grams of leaves per 100ml, and place them into the brewing vessel. Moisturize and wash the leaves with hot water, then pour out the liquid immediately. After the rinsing, steep the tea for 10 to 20 seconds. Inhale the aromas, and enjoy. Re-brew as many times as you want; slightly increasing the steeping period.

#THREE, Iced

The Cold Brew Method

As the name itself implies, cold brewing means to steep the tea with cold water. The slower extraction process of cold brewed tea results in a sweeter/lighter infusion that won’t have any bitterness or astringency.

This method is great to prepare larger batches of iced tea; and works well for many loose leaf teas and herbal blends.

Sensado Blog

How?

Infuse about 2.5 grams (1-2 teaspoons) of leaves with 200-250 ml of cold and filtered water. Place the mixture in the fridge for 4 to 8 hours or over night. Keep tasting the liquid during steeping to estimate the optimal steeping period for a certain type of tea. Serve as is or on the rocks with a slice of lemon, orange, mint leaves,…..

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