Having tea at a cafe

Tea Making Basics

Water: Start with water that tastes good to you, such as spring or filtered. Avoid straight tap water; it may contain chemicals which will affect the taste of the tea.

Vessel: Choose a teapot, gaiwan, or yixing pot, and preheat with hot water. If there is not a way to hold back the leaves—either with a perforated spout or lid—use a wide infuser basket inside the vessel or a strainer as you pour to prevent leaf particles from entering the cup.

Tea: Brew teas as unconstrained as possible, not in a small tea ball; this allows the leaves to circulate freely, hydrate and release their fullest flavor. Whole leaf teas vary in density, so weight is the most accurate measurement for dosage (see Brewing Charts below).

Temperature: White or green teas, well below boiling (170°–185° F)—these leaves are less processed, so the lower temperature helps avoid astringency and maintain their inherent sweetness. Oolongs (185°–210° F). Black teas, just off a boil. Pu-erhs, full rolling boil (212° F) for shu; slightly off the boil (~200° F) for sheng.

Time: Until you are familiar with a particular tea, steep it for a minute or so, then try a sip. Pay attention to the flavor, rather than the liquor color. When the tea tastes right to you, decant the entire vessel or remove the infuser to avoid oversteeping. Many teas are meant to be infused several times; try increasing steeping time for subsequent infusions.

Experiment: Feel free to play with water temperature, brewing times, and proportion of tea to water. Watch the leaves unfurl and savor the aroma. Remember, our guidelines are just that. Drink up!

Image by Alisher Sharip

Western Style Brewing

*For single serving (8 oz) to larger pots (16 oz)

3–4 grams
180º F
2-3 minutes
3-5 grams
170-185º F
2-3 minutes
3-5 grams
180-210º F
2-3 minutes, 5 second rinse before infusing
3-4 grams
210º F
3 minutes
3-5 grams
200-210º F
200-210º F
3-4 grams
210º F
5 minutes

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