Japan has popularized the tea ceremony all over the world, but the origin of this infusion is in China, where 2,000 years ago they learned to use heat and pressing to extract flavors and colors from the leaves of the tea tree, Camellia sinensis. Little by little, the technique evolved, and about a thousand years ago tea was already a staple of the Asian giant’s diet, which in the 17th century it exported to Europe and Russia, with great success.
Today, we have different varieties of tea, and specialized stores, but do we know how to steep a good cup of tea while respecting all its flavor? How long should the water boil?
Here we will show you the basic guidelines you need to follow to steep different types of tea.
Water Temperature and Quality are Essential
Water is an essential element to steep good tea. These infusions are made up of 95-98% water, therefore, it is obvious that their quality will influence the result. The water mustn’t have many carbonates of calcium and magnesium, because these minerals can change the taste. If we use the tap we must also try to avoid chlorine. The best option is to use mineral or filtered water.
Another important point is to heat it without letting it come to a boil (if it boils, we must wait for a little for it to cool down or add a little fresh water to lower the temperature), taking into account that each variety of tea develops better at a certain determined temperature.
- Black Tea
Delicate black teas like Darjeeling and Keemun require temperatures between 180 and 190 F.
- Pu-erh Tea
The proper point for pu-erh tea water temperature is 205 F.
- Green Tea
For the best taste of green tea, the ideal temperature is 150 F to 180 F.
- White Tea
The water should have a temperature of around 160 F
- Oolong Tea
Heat the water to 180 or 200 F using a thermometer.
Calculate the Time Each Tea Needs to Infuse
Once we have the cup or the kettle ready, we add the tea leaves and pour the water that we have heated. Adapting it to our taste will be the key, as we get to know the character (how the infused tea behaves) of the tea. Because calculating the infusion time for each tea depends on the number of leaves (more leaves, less time), whether they are broken or whole (more broken, less time), and the temperature of the water (more temperature, less time).
Also of the variety of tea, the way it has been cultivated, collected, and processed. In general, teas with a higher oxidation level (oolong and black) need longer times than green ones.
Japanese green tea needs less temperature than Chinese. For two cups between 2 and 3 minutes. In China, the harvesting procedure is still manual, the leaf is more whole and takes a little longer, therefore it would be about 3 minutes.
Oolong is similar to black or green tea, depending on the percentage of enzymatic oxidation of the leaf at the time of processing. If the percentage is high, we will treat it more like a black tea, 3-5 minutes, two cups.
The white tea leaf has a longer wilting and drying time than green tea, therefore the time can become like black tea, from 3 to 5 minutes.
Pu-ehr can be fermented or unfermented. The first allows a longer infusion time (4-6 minutes) while the second is similar to a green tea, 2-3 minutes.
Calculate the Amount of Tea and Water
For the infusion to come out perfect we have to take into account the proportions of tea and water with which we work. It is necessary to know the character (the temperature and infusion time that it allows) of the tea to determine well quantities and temperatures.
The experts give us an approximate formula valid for all types of tea: for two cups, heat 300 ml of water, and place 4 or 5 grams of tea.
On the other hand, when we buy teabags we cannot appreciate the color, aroma, and integrity of the leaf, characteristics that are very important to obtain good tea.
Try to apply these rules to get the best cup of tea at home.