THE MOST COMMON TEA BREWING METHODS
Let's talk about few methods commonly used for brewing high quality teas, which will make your tea delicious.
The taste, aroma and intensity of our infusion depends on:
1 - ratio of the amount of tea to the volume of tea pot
2 - temperature of water
3 - infusion time,
and many small nuances that reveals to us during the mastering the initial skills.
Of course, you can simply put some tea leaves in a glass or a tea pot and pour over some hot water. But there are types of teas, which can become astringent and bitter, that's why it's better to know few tricks how to brew tea properly, so you can enjoy the drink as much as possible.
In this topic you can find most common methods of brewing tea so that you can familiarize yourself with the general principles and decide which method is most suitable for you.
It is recommended to use special dishes, like 'gaiwan' or 'gongfu teapot', which are usually small in size. The capacity varies from 100 to 300 (and even more) ml and allows you: to use a small amount of tea, to get a rich taste, and to infuse it several times.
The amount of tea leaves depends not only on the brewing method, but also on the personal preference. For beginners, we usually recommend using 3-7 g of a dry tea (you can start with medium, 5 g) per 100-150 ml of water. Over time, everyone finds their own ratio of the amount of tea, water and capacity of teapot.
To keep the temperature at the same level, people usually use a thermos to keep water hot. (For some teas this is very important!)
The quality of the water plays a huge role. Good water will make your tea more delicious. It's always better to boil water over fire instead electric kettle.
- "the highest skill of brewing tea. This term is also used for the "tea of the highest mastery" but mostly this is how tea ceremony called in China. During this event, the atmosphere is expected to be calm, quiet and the person, who is brewing tea is in the center of attention. Phone calls and other distractions are not encouraged during the ceremony. It is also very important to understand that GongFu Cha is the enjoyment of tea as a self-sufficient product that does not need any snack.
Firstly, it is necessary 1) to separate the space where the tea action will take place, so that the participants feel the seriousness of this event. Next, you need to 2) equip the place where the tea will be brewed. It can be a small tablecloth or tea table/tray. After the place is prepared, you can 3) put out items needed for the tea ceremony. The most necessary: • a fire, • a kettle for boiling water, • a tea pot or Gaiwan for brewing tea, • Cha He (dish for "acquaintance" with dry tea), • Cha Hai, • tea tools, • bowls and/or tea pairs , • stands for bowls and • a container for draining excess water. You can turn on some calm music to create the desired atmosphere.
After everything is ready, you can 4) start boiling water. While preparing the water, you can 5) familiarize yourself with the dry tea leaf. As soon as the water has reached a hot state, 6) rinse/warm up the dishes. Then 7) put the tea in a heated teapot and after a while 8) enjoy the aroma of a heated tea leaf. Next 9) fill the tea leaves with water and drain immediately. Now is the time 10) to enjoy the aroma of the washed tea leaf. Finally, you can 11) start brewing tea by brewing it several times. Each of the participants should receive the same amount of tea, the same degree of saturation, which is convenient to control using Cha Hai.
Tea pair cups bring the moment of enjoying the aroma of tea infusion, as well as the aroma of "empty cup", which is difficult to do with simple bowls. The pair of tea consists of Wen Xiang Bei (tall cup for tasting the aroma) and Ping Ming Bei (low bowl for tasting the infusion). First 12) the infusion is poured into Wen Xiang Bei, and Ping Ming Bei is placed on top to make a kind of "mushroom". 13) After that, this whole structure must be turned upside down. 14) Now you can lift Wen Xiang Bei and enjoy the aroma of the infusion, which will change as it dries. Observing these changes is a very important part of the tea ceremony. Tea is drunk in small sips in order to thoughtfully enjoy its taste.
At the end of Gong Fu Cha, be sure to "say goodbye" to tea, appreciating its opened tea leaves.
It is common to use this method with highly fermented oolong teas, but you can use this method with any type of tea.
- "Sencha way". This method is used to brew Japanese teas. The infusion time can vary from 20 to 120 seconds (in some cases even longer). The amount of tea used also varies from 2 to 7 g (on average 5g) per 120-200 ml and depends on the preferences of the tea master. Another nuance is that the first infusion is drinkable and is considered the most useful and delicious. The temperature of the brewing water depends on the tea, and can vary from 50 to 100 (for red and black teas) degrees Celsius. Most green teas are brewed at 50-75 degrees Celsius. For more information, check each tea in the "Recommended Brewing Method" tab.
Now we can prepare water at the right temperature and start brewing tea. Using the Sencha Do method and infusing the tea for 20-60 seconds, the tea can be brewed several times, depending on the particular tea.
The brewing process is as follows. 1) We wash/warm up the dishes. 2) Put the tea leaf in the teapot. 3) Pour the water into bowls and when the water cools down to the desired temperature, 4) pour it in the tea pot. After some time 5) pour back into the bowls by small portions so that all participants receive same infusion. It is very important to drain every last drop so that the tea in the tea pot does not continue to brew.
Japanese teas are beautiful and unique. I recommend you follow the recommendations that you will find in the "Recommended brewing method" tab for each particular tea. This guarantees a tasty, pleasant drink, with minimal bitterness and astringency.
- a ceremonial method, known from the Tang Dynasty times. The name comes from the name of the Chinese poet and writer, the author of "The Classic of Tea". This method allows you to reveal the maximum potential of the tea leaf and get a rich, deep and multifaceted taste.
In this method, great importance is attached to the preparation of water. We recommend using a glass teapot with a 1000-2000 ml volume. Sounds of water, steam, warmth and light of fire, all this soothes and plunges into states of harmony, making you forget about the vanity of a gray day.
While the water is being prepared, the participants 1) get acquainted with the dry tea leaf, evaluating its appearance and aroma. After that, you need to 2) wash your tea leaves. When the water reaches a certain temperature (about 65-75 degrees Celsius), listening, you can catch the moment of the first "crack". At this point, it is necessary to 3) pour about 200 ml of water into a separate container, for example Cha Hai. When the water begins to boil and there are columns of bubbles in the water, 4) it is necessary to gently spin the water in a circle using tongs, which are usually present in any set of tea tools. After the water is twisted, it is necessary 5) to pour 200 ml of warm water back into the center of the formed funnel. Literally in a minute, the water will begin to boil again and by this time you need to be ready to put tea leaves. 6) Screw the water again, and if everything is done correctly, then very soon a "dragon's tail" will appear inside the kettle. This is the very moment when 7) you need to pour the washed tea leaves into the teapot. Then it is worth waiting for about 20-30 seconds until it boils completely, after 8) remove the kettle from the heat and cover with a lid.
Depending on the tea, its quantity and the volume of the teapot, the infusion process can last from 20 to 90 minutes. The tea infusion will be ready when all the tea leaves have down to the bottom. At this time, you can either brew another tea using a different method, or do other things, from time to time watching at the infusion.
Lu Yu's method is not as simple as it sounds, but with proper attention and concentration, you can prepare a delicious tea. This is how leaves were brewed over 1000 years ago. This is a theme for a separate topic. I will happily return to this topic in the future and write it out in more detail. Almost all types of tea can be brewed using this method.
I hope we managed to describe this topic in an accessible, understandable language. As I said in a very beginning, there are a huge number of nuances that emerge as we gain experience. At this stage, I wanted to describe the most necessary and not overload you with information. I'm very happy for you, because if you are reading these lines, most likely you are at the beginning of an exciting path, which in the east is called the "Tea Way."
Tea unites and gives us a great time, improving our physical and mental health.
P.S. The use of special teaware made of special materials makes the process of brewing tea more interesting, convenient, beautiful, and most importantly, it better reveals the taste and aroma of tea. In Teaware section you will find teapots and tea sets made from very high quality, and most importantly, safe materials, by some of the best craftsmen from China, Japan and other countries.
I also recommend that you read my article - Five Tea Criteria - on how to properly appreciate tea!