I was professionally trained in the art of tea brewing and tea tasting, and these are my tips for brewing the best everyday cup of tea.
Tea is best when it is brewed at a consistent temperature. Pouring hot water into a cold teapot or cup immediately lowers the temperature of the water, resulting in weaker tea. Simply pour hot water into your teaware, swirl it around, and discard. Then add your tea and begin brewing.
For most types of tea, you will want to use 1tsp of leaves per cup. If the tea has very large leaves, or if the leaves are bundled into balls, you should use a bit less than 1 tsp, as the leaves will expand quite a bit.
Remember that most suggested tea measurements (and a standard tea bag) are for an 8oz cup. Most people use cups and mugs that are at least 16oz, so unless you like your tea weak (and some people do, there's nothing wrong with that!) you will want to double the amount.
Black teas and puer are best brewed with boiling or just under boiling temperature. If you try to use that same temperature to brew white or green teas, however, you will end up with a bitter, unpleasant brew.
You don't need to measure the exact temperature with a thermometer (although, that never hurts); just let the water cool down for a few minutes after boiling before brewing white, green, or green oolong teas.
This is an important step that most people forget when brewing tea in a cup. Putting a lid on your tea cup will help maintain a constant temperature (which, again, is vital for the best cup of tea), and will also prevent the tea's aroma from escaping, resulting in better tasting tea.
Overbrewing tea is very common. It's so easy to wander away from the tea and forget about it until, say, an hour later. (Hey, I usually drink it anyway. Call it iced tea and say you meant to do it.)
If you have a habit of letting your tea overbrew, try using a timer that gives off a noise when it's done. If you're going to leave the room, take the timer with you.
Your tea should come with a time suggestion, but the general rules are:
White tea: 1 minute
Green tea: 30 seconds-1 minute
Oolong tea: 1 minute
Black tea: 2-3 minutes (less for a very finely cut tea)
Puer tea: 1 minute
You should always adjust the times for your own personal taste, of course!
Most high quality loose teas, especially oolong and puer, can be rebrewed 4-5 times and still yield a good taste. In fact, the taste will evolve and improve with multiple brews, so don't toss the leaves!
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