Making a cup of tea is quite simple…
Heat the water, pour it onto the leaves, infuse, drink and enjoy!
However, brewing the perfect cup of tea takes a bit more care and understanding the basics of how to bring out the best flavours for different types of tea by controlling temperature and brewing times.
Generally speaking – one teaspoon or 2g per cup
You need to watch out for larger leafed teas since one teaspoon of these may not give you 2g so you might need a little more per cup. You can buy a spoon that is a little deeper than your average teaspoon that measures approximately 2g for a good number of differ teas.
Use good quality water that has been freshly boiled
The biggest component of your tea is water and if you brew your water and in areas of hard water for example your tea is likely to develop a nasty scum caused by insoluble minerals. To instantly improve the quality of your tea when you don't have a good water supply its best to use a water filter. Freshly boiled water is best because oxygen helps develop the flavour and re-boiled water removes oxygen.
Good quality tea can be brewed more than once so use a pot or infuser
Quality whole leaf teas can be brewed several times over as long as you don't allow the leaves to sit in water after each infusion this is why it makes sense in terms of quality and cost to brew your tea with a little care in either a pot or an infuser.
Metal teapots don't hold temperature as well as ceramic pots and can influence the flavour depending on the metal. Earthenware pots such as Yixing pots are very porous and so will hold the flavour of any tea that is brewed so should only be used for one kind of tea. Why not try a glass teapot with integral infuser / plunger.
My granny always used to use two teapots to brew tea, one pot was warmed with hot water whilst the tea brewed in the other pot. After brewing the tea was transferred to the nicely warmed pot so the leaves could be used again. This meant that the tea was never bitter or over brewed and is the way I brew tea at home if I am serving a group of family or friends.
If you use a tea infuser, a teapot with stainless steel infuser is good as it doesn't hold onto flavours so can be used for different teas. For Speciality loose leaf tea, the leaves need room to expand and brew so make sure that your filter is a good size since small filters and tea balls can inhibit brewing.
Some teas such as Oolongs are best brewed using a high leaf to water ratio (gong fu). Where this method of brewing is used then the infusion time will be very short, just a matter of seconds and the leaves are re brewed over and over again. Usually a special brewing cup (Gaiwan) is used so that there is the exact amount of water for one single serving for each brew.
TEMPERATURES and INFUSION TIME
Be patient, good things come to those who wait.
If you have ever made a cup of green tea that has been nasty and bitter then the chances are that you poured boiling water onto it. Tannins that make the tea astringent dissolve at high temperatures and green tea should be brewed at between 79-80 deg C for between 2-3mins. Black tea should be brewed with water that is just off the boil for 3-4 mins. White tea around 80 deg C for 2-3 min and oolong 85-90 deg C for 2-3 mins. Get to know your favourite tea … it's worth it.