Brewing the perfect cup of tea from loose leaves is simple and straightforward. There is no right or wrong way to make tea. Feel free to experiment and let your palate be the guide. Here are some tips for brewing good tea.
The best tea is only as good as the water with which it is prepared. Start with fresh, cold, good-tasting water. We recommend using filtered or bottled spring water with natural mineral content that is neither too hard nor too soft. Distilled water is not recommended since water purified of its mineral content produces a flat-tasting infusion. Never use hot tap water or water that has already boiled for a long time as this will result in a flat and dull tasting tea with little aroma.
It is important to preheat the pot or cup in which the tea will be steeped. If hot water is poured into a cold vessel, the temperature of the water will drop too quickly and the full flavor of the tea will not be extracted. To preheat the pot: pour a little of the boiling water from the kettle into the pot and then pour this water off into the drinking cups to warm them.
Ideally, one rounded teaspoon of dry leaves should be used for every 6 ounces of water. Since different teas have widely varying weights, it is important to adjust the number of dry leaves accordingly. With lighter weight teas such as large, wiry oolongs and whites, try 2 teaspoons per 6 oz cup.
Black, Dark Oolong, Herbal - These types are best prepared with water that has come to near-boiling. Don't let the water boil too long or the oxygen content will be reduced and the tea will taste flat.
Green, White, Green Oolong - These types should not be prepared with boiling water as this will cook the leaves and destroy their flavor. They tend to taste best with water at 170-185º F. To brew green tea without a thermometer: pour the water at the moment that bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of your kettle, or bring the water to a boil first and then let it cool for two to three minutes before pouring.
The time it takes for tea to brew depends on the leaf size. The smaller the leaf, the faster the tea infuses. Until familiar with a particular tea, steep for a minute or two, then taste. Pay attention to the taste rather than the color. When the tea tastes right, serve or pour off all the liquid to avoid over steeping. Here are some general guidelines: