Tea Brewing Tips

by admin on September 17, 2011

#1 Fill Your Tea Kettle with Good Water

When steeping tea, try to use water that tastes good by itself.  If your tap water has a strong flavor or odor (like chlorine), the water flavor will negatively affect the taste of the tea.  Use bottled or filtered water instead but not distilled water.  Distilled water lacks the minerals that create a flavorful tea infusion and using it will leave your tea tasting a bit flat.  Always use cold, fully oxygenated water for brewing tea and if you are using your tap water, allow it to run for a minute before filling your tea kettle.

Also never re-boil the same pot of water because it will have a lower oxygen content and make a flatter cup of tea.  The longer water boils, the more oxygen is released.

#2 Maintain the Proper Water Temperature for Brewing Tea

An often overlooked temperature tip involves pre-heating the teapot to ensure that the water temperature is consistent and doesn’t drop too sharply when the water from the kettle hits the teapot.  Before steeping the tea, warm the teapot first by pouring a little water into the pot from the kettle when it’s close to boiling and swirling the water around before discarding thorough the spout.  Also keep the teapot ready close by the kettle for the same reason.  If you have to walk across the kitchen with the kettle, the water temperature will reduce too much before it hits the teapot.

#3 Use Infusers and Strainers

Because leaving tea leaves in hot water for too long causes over-steeping and a bitter taste, you’ll need to plan ahead of time how to remove the loose tea leaves from the brew.  There are two major options: straining the leaves or using an infuser.

If using a strainer, make just enough tea to fill up your guests’ cups and empty the tea pot using a strainer to catch the leaves as you pour.  Another option is to strain the brewed tea into another pre-heated teapot.  This way you will not need to serve all of the tea immediately and can even keep it warm for a long period of time by putting a tea cozy over the pot.

You might find an infuser to be an easier option.  Many teapots can purchased with a built-in infuser or you can buy one separately.  The ideal infuser gives the tea leaves plenty of room to unfurl and expand in the water.  Large cylindrical or pyramid shaped infusers are great.

Avoid using little mesh balls because the cramped tea leaves do not have enough room to expand as they rehydrate.  But if the convenience outweighs the flavor disadvantages for you, be sure to use stainless-steel tea balls and only fill them partly full.  If you need to add more tea, use multiple tea balls rather than stuffing all the leaves into one.

#4 Find the Perfect Teapot

Ceramic and cast-iron make good materials for teapots because they retain heat well.  The only metals that will not alter the flavor of the tea with a metallic taste are silver and stainless steel.  Aluminum and enamel should only be used for boiling water in tea kettles, not teapots where the infusions occur.

Yixing teapots are treasured by tea aficionados and should only be used to brew one type of tea.  Over time, the stoneware retains the flavor of the tea which adds a unique taste to each infusion.  Chinese black and green teas are good teas to use with a yixing teapot.

#5 Don’t Clean Your Teapot With Soap!

Never, ever wash your tea with dish soap and water (unless you like the taste of soap), because the residue from the soap will affect the taste of future infusions.  Simply rinse teapots with water after use and when stains from the infusions form, wash the pot with a mixture of hot water and a few tablespoons of baking soda.

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