written by Joo ι illustrated by Doo
Although I personally do not think there is a fixed way of making tea since it all depends on the circumstance (weather, temperature of the water, the condition of tea leaves and preference), the basic guide line will help you to choose which method to use in making different tea. Generally speaking, there are 2 major methods in brewing tea, Western and Eastern style.
Think of afternoon tea time. Your tea is often served in one big pot. It usually takes about 3g of tea leaves and 150 ml of hot water for a medium size pot to brew one time. Infuse tea leaves or tea bag in hot water for 2-3 minutes and serve in each cup. I personally find it fine to infuse about 3 times in Western style as long as the previous infusion time wasn’t too long. (if you let the tea leaves sit too long in the hot water, it will taste awfully bitter)
YIXING CLAY TEA POT │ Zi Sha hu (Chinese heavily oxidized oolong, red tea, puerh)
These unglazed ceramic teapots are made of special clay from YiXing, China. They are porous ceramic, so should be treated as if they are alive. You do not use soap or detergent, but rather wash it with hot water. Since they are fired at lower temperature, they are known for their ability to keep the temperature of water better than others such as porcelain or terra-cotta teapots. Similar to cast-iron skillet, you need to tame it properly. This breathing clay will slowly absorb the unique characteristic of each tea every time you brew tea. Therefore, after taming it for 10-20 years, just pouring hot water in YiXing pot should bring the flavor of the tea that you’ve been brewing. That is why you are supposed use only one kind of tea for one YiXing clay pot to develop its strong characteristic.
They are good for highly oxidized Chinese teas with full-bodied, smoked and strong flavors such as Shu Xian, Dian Hong, Puerh and etc.
Gai Wan (Chinese/ Taiwanese lightly oxidized oolong)
Gai Wan looks like a cup with cover and saucer. It is composed of 3 parts: lid, body and bottom. You put loose leaves (usually 5g) in the cup and pour hot water. You let it seep for 30 seconds ~ 40 seconds and pour the brewed tea into another cup to drink.
Gai Wan is more vulnerable to temperature change than YiXing clay pot. It is recommended lightly oxidized tea such as Tie Guan Yin, Oriental Beauty, and White tea.
Matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
Matcha is special green tea powder in Japan. Instead of infusing tea leaves, you pour hot water into the green powder and whisk it fast to dissolve it until you make fine foams (similar to making meringue). It requires special matcha kit: a bowl, a bamboo ladle (hishaku), a bamboo spatula (chashaku), a special bamboo whisk (chasen).
Moroccan Mint Tea
Where do you think consume the most amounts of green tea besides china? China exports a substantial amounts of green tea to Northern Africa. They often combine Chinese gunpowder green tea with mint and sugar to make the Moroccan mint tea. Tea culture is embedded in the daily life in many of Arab countries.
- Western style: fewer tea leaves (3g), a longer infusion time (2~3 minutes), fewer times of infusion
- Eastern style: more tea leaves (5g), a shorter infusion time (30 seconds~ 1 minute), multiple infusions
Nevertheless, there are other tools in making tea. For instance, glass is used for brewing Chinese green tea. Because green tea leaves are younger, thus more delicate than others, it is better to be brewed in lower temperature (60◦ C ~ 80 ◦ C). Glass is less heat resistant, so it is perfect to brew green tea. The Kyusu teapot which has one side handle, is meant to brew traditional Japanese green tea. In addition to all the tools mentioned here, nowadays, many people use tools for making coffee such as drip filter and french press to make tea instead. There is no rule on how to brew tea properly. Whatever suits you and tastes good to you is the right way to drink tea! TrEAt yourself with a cup of tea today.