To create a beautiful tea brew, it is key that you use good quality tea leaves and good quality water (we always filter ours). Other crucial factors affecting your tea are amount of leaves and water you use, water temperature and time of brewing, as well as the utensils you use to prepare tea.
Experimenting is important
The beauty of fine teas starts to show when you experiment with brewing times and water temperatures. Different brewing will bring out different flavours. After a while you will see that varying the way you brew your tea is a journey of exploration. Step by step and brew by brew you get to know your tea better.
While there is a lot to personal preference, where one person might enjoy the pure sweetness and mellowness and the other might want to have some bitterness, there are certain brewing guidelines that proved most popular. These ways of brewing seem to bring out the best in each particular tea.
But that is not to say that you should always religiously follow the guidelines. Instead, we invite you on a journey of tea exploration, which involves trying, testing, experimenting...and as a result enjoying, loving, not-liking-so-much and maybe sometimes even hating what you come out with on the other end. That way you will get intimate with your tea. You will find the perfect taste that suits you best for a specific mood or time of day. And it will never bore you. You'll be able to fully enjoy this exciting adventure of delving deeper into the fine tea world.
Temperature and brewing time
As said above, the brewing temperature is of utmost importance. Let's look at this factor in more detail.
Different teas require different temperature for brewing, as some leaves are more delicate than others and have different chemical components. These components are responsible for specific tastes and are extracted at different temperatures. For instance, brewing green tea way under boiling (60-80°C for most green teas) brings out more delicate vegetal and sweet notes (amino acid theanine), whereas higher temperatures will quickly bring out more bitterness and astringency (catechins and tannins). Black or Oolong tea on the other hand, need hotter temperature (90-100°C) to release their complete flavour and despite those high temperatures don't result in bitterness. As most kettles just give us boiling water, black teas and oolongs are generally easier to brew.
For delicate green and white teas, fortunately there is an simple way to cool down your water to a desired temperature (if you don't have a temperature-control kettle). Every time you pour or transfer hot water into a new cold vessel (pot, cup, bowl etc.) its temperature drops 10°C. So starting with boiling water, it will look like this:
1st pour: 90°C
2nd pour: 80°C
3rd pour: 70°C
So if you need let's say 80°C for a Kukicha tea, you have to pour the boiling water into a cold cup and then into a second one before you pour it over the leaves. This method is quite exact and very easy to apply.
Bearing this in mind, here are some general guidelines for teas. (More specific instructions for individual teas can be found under each tea's description on this website and on the packaging).
You can usually get 3-4 infusions from good quality green tea. The key to a good green tea infusion are the factors mentioned above. With regard to temperature and time, the hotter the water and the longer the infusion time, the more bitter your green tea will be. Guidelines below can be taken as a starting point for when you first try out a new tea. Generally, the more tender the leaves, the lower the water temperature should be.
To make it as simple as possible, we've produced the video below that explains how to cool down the water to the desired temperature, and specifically demonstrates how to prepare a Sencha green tea.
Black tea does not yield as many infusions as green tea or oolong tea. Even with good quality leaves, you usually still only get 2 great brews, however we encourage you to experiment as you might be able to get more out of some teas. The preparation of black tea is simple; you can use boiling water and infuse for 1-3 minutes. (Some rare teas like our Mountain black tea need up to 10 minutes to infuse).
Oolong tea is something different. You can get up to 10 infusions from the same leaves. Often a single tablespoon of dry oolong leaves is sufficient to provide tea throughout the day. Oolong teas are brewed with boiling water or just off the boil (90°C). For the oolong teas we offer, boiling water is used. To get consistently intense flavour, increase the brewing time with each infusion.