THE ART OF BREWING

How do you make a good cup of tea? Simple. First, find out what type of tea you are about to brew. Is it green tea? Is it black tea? Factors such as water temperature and steeping time are all depended upon the type of tea processing (level of oxidation and the baking process). If you use boiling water to brew green tea, you will burn the leaves, and therefore making the tea taste bitter. Keep in mind that the leaves of green tea are picked when they are still young buds and therefore, the leaves are tender. This principle also applies to white tea and yellow. On the other hand, if you are brewing black tea, the water needs to be at least 95¢XC or else the aroma cannot be completely released from the leaves and the tea will be insipid and bland. So how high should the water temperature be for brewing a good cup of tea? In general, oxidized tea (black tea, puerh tea and oolong tea) is more tolerant of boiling water whereas non-oxidized and low-oxidized tea is not. The best thing to do is to let the water cool down for a minute or two once it reaches boiling point in order to get the right temperature for brewing.

The ideal temperature for non-oxidized or low-oxidized tea is around 80¢XC and for semi-oxidized and fully oxidized tea is around 90¢XC or higher. One also needs to take into consideration that different tea stores use different methods to process their tea. Different levels of baking require different brewing temperature and duration. High-mountain tea and low mountain tea do not yield the same flavor and therefore, their brewing methods should differ. Light oxidized and lightly baked tea requires lower temperature water than heavily oxidized and heavily baked tea. Tea is an agricultural product where its flavor will vary from season to season. As a result, your brewing method should adjust accordingly from batch to batch.

The ideal temperature for non-oxidized or low-oxidized tea is around 80¢XC and for semi-oxidized and fully oxidized tea is around 90¢XC or higher. One also needs to take into consideration that different tea stores use different methods to process their tea. Different levels of baking require different brewing temperature and duration. High-mountain tea and low mountain tea do not yield the same flavor and therefore, their brewing methods should differ. Light oxidized and lightly baked tea requires lower temperature water than heavily oxidized and heavily baked tea. Tea is an agricultural product where its flavor will vary from season to season. As a result, your brewing method should adjust accordingly from batch to batch.

The type of tea brewing vessel also affects how the tea will taste. Yixing teapots of China have been universally recognized to be the best vessel for brewing a cup of strong tea. The porous nature of the Yixing clay is very suitable for brewing dark, roasty or full-bodied tea. As the aroma is released, the taste is also enhanced. Since Yixing teapot is very porous, the flavor of the tea will steep into the clay. They are also excellent heat retainers than glass and porcelain. It is not uncommon for a tea connoisseur to possess a large collection of Yixing teapots. Every teapot is assigned to a specific flavor of tea so that the tastes of individual tea are unadulterated.

For glass or porcelain teapots, one may brew any type of tea as one pleases. Although glass and porcelain materials are usually reserved for brewing floral, non-oxidized and low-oxidized tea, one may use them to brew oolong or puerh as well. The rationale behind this is that non-oxidized tea release light aroma, not as strong as those given off by oxidized tea. Thus, one does not want the clay teapot to soak up all the aroma. Glass and porcelain teapots do not absorb any tea flavor due to their non-porous nature. Furthermore, the brewing temperature for lighter tasting tea needs not to be too high. Hot water cools down faster in glass and porcelain teapots than in clay teapots.

Duration of steeping time is depended whether the tea is 1) handpicked or machine-picked 2) elevation at which the tea tree was planted 3) personal preference 4) level of oxidization 5) level of baking or roasting. Machined-picked leaves are more chopped in appearance and require a shorter duration of infusion. Lowland tea is thinner than its high-mountain counterpoints, and therefore, requires a short duration. If you prefer a strong tasting beverage, give the tea some extra seconds of infusion. Lightly oxidized tea and lightly baking tea tend to be light on the taste palette as well so keep that in mind during tea brewing.

   
   
   
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