Tea preparation
Tea preparation
Tea preparation
We’d all like to enjoy our own homemade teas made to perfection. This is a lot simpler than you might think. The key is to follow directions exactly as they come. Even the best tea leaves in the world can be made to taste dreadful if not prepared correctly. Here are some general guidelines for tea preparation:

There are seven factors that affect the quality of brewed tea:
  • Type of quality of water
  • The type of quality of the tea
  • Precise measurements
  • Precise steeping temperatures
  • Precise steeping time
  • Letting the tea leaf expand fully
  • Taking the the leaf out of the liquid at the end of the steeping process
Remember one thing with every cup of tea, you should never settle for cheap tea. Use the best tea available if you want the best cup of tea. Seeing as more than 90 percent of tea is water, make sure to start with clean and palatable water. Also be sure to taste the water for unfamiliar tastes. If all else fails, a bottle of store bought water will get the job done.

You should always start with fresh water, not previously boiled water. Before starting, use a small amount of heated water to warm the pot before beginning to make your tea.

Then measure the correct amount of tea into the pot.  One 8oz. teaspoon (measuring teaspoon) per cup is sufficient. Different teas may have different densities so you will have to adjust the amount as needed. For example, the Malaysian Highlands tea is denser and so more tea fits on a spoon, so you would probably have to only use a miniscule amount. On the other hand if you had a large leafed bulky tea like Wen Shen Pouchong, then you would have to use two full teaspoons per cup.

Different teas require different steeping temperatures. One of the more crucial steps in the whole process of tea preparation is steeping. Most novices to tea preparation probably err here. To avoid mistakes, either have a thermometer handy or you can look for visual clues.

Black tea generally should be made with water at a full, rolling boil, 212 degrees F.

Oolong tea (also known as Wulong tea) should be made with water a little bit below boiling, between 190 and 203 degrees F. The water should be steaming rapidly and there should be many bubbles rising in the kettle, but not really breaking the surface.

Green teas should be made with slightly cooler water, between 160 and 180 degrees F. The steam should be gently swirling out of the kettle.

White teas should be made with even cooler water, anywhere from 150 to 160 degrees, around when you see the very first hint of steam.

Puerh teas are unique, and as such, it is preferable to have them made with cooler water, similar to Green tea. Alternately you can make them with boiling water and steep them a long time.

Herbal teas should typically be made with boiling water.

Different teas, In addition to the above, also require different steeping times. Some of the timings are as follows:

Black teas steep 4-6 minutes. Darjeelings are the exception; they should be steeped 2-3 minutes.

White teas typically should be steeped around 2 minutes, although some can be steeped much longer with equivalent results.

Puerh teas should be steeped at least 7-8 minutes. Some people even prefer to steep Puerhs up to a whopping 20 minutes.     

Green teas should typically be steeped for much less time compare to other teas. Roughly 2-3 minutes.

Oolong teas vary greatly and you need to follow the suggested steeping instructions on the bag. Many Oolongs (Wulongs) are perfect at 3-4 minutes, some may need 6-8 minutes.

Herbals typically should be steeped a minimum of 4-6 minutes, some for up to 10 minutes.

All teas require room for the leaf to expand greatly in size as it steeps. Regardless of your method of preparation, the leaf has to have to room to expand 3-5 times its original size. It is recommended to brew the tea leaves loosely in the pot. If the tea leaves don’t expand properly, the flavor won’t be fully released into the liquid.

Finally you need to separate the leaves from the liquid when the tea has steeped the proper length of time. The majority of teas will taste bitter if steeped for too long. A tea infuser, a device in which loose, dried tea leaves are placed for steeping or brewing or putting it in a mug or a teapot full of hot water, will make this step a lot easier. You may strain the brewed tea away from the leaves using a perforated tray as well.

Making great tea can be an easy task, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

Now pour yourself a cup of your delicious tea and enjoy!