Sunday, 21 July 2013 11:18

Preparing Tea the Simple Way

Each time someone informs me they hate the flavor of tea, I generally think they've just never had a correctly prepared cup. Thanks to individual teas having their distinct method of preparation, many persons are understandably unaware as to how to make them using the proper way. And committing just a few critical mistakes will result in an unappetizing cup of tea. Thankfully, just about any method will work fine for pretty much any cup of tea. There are just a small number
of critical points to be aware of and I will point those out below for a couple of the more widely consumed teas.

How about we begin with the easy one. Black tea is far and away the simplest to prepare and very few men and women have any trouble making a wonderful cup. Basically, you pour 100 ºC water on top of the leaves and leave them to steep for a couple of minutes. The widely enjoyed Assam tea is made using this process, plus the Chinese black teas, Ceylon teas and Nepalese teas. The main exception is Darjeeling Tea. Owing to the fact that it is not completely oxidized, it must be made with cooler water (80-90ºC or 180-194ºF), just like an oolong tea.

Green teas are definitely slightly more difficult to make well and you'll encounter a great variety in the method of brewing among kinds. The things you have to take care to get right more than anything, are the steeping times and the water temperature. If you go with a temperature of 80°C (176°F), you will not have a problem with pretty much all green teas.

You will want to use a much cooler 50°C–60°C (122°F–140°F) for the high quality Japanese tea gyokuro, however. Another exception is Houjicha, a roasted Japanese tea. It is probably the simplest and most forgiving tea to prepare, meaning you can just employ boiling water. The instructions written on the package will indicate a good time to start when it comes to steeping times. Otherwise, try going with one minute and 30 seconds for gyokuro and two minutes for most other teas.

You should forget all that I just wrote, when it comes to Matcha green tea powder; it is very unlike all the other green teas. As it is in powder form, it is brewed with distinctive implements and a very different and pretty intricate preparation method. If you have ever before viewed a Japanese tea ceremony, you've witnessed the brewing of matcha. The brewing method for this exceptional quality tea could fill several pages, so I won't go into it here.

Also quite a bit more challenging to brew the right way is white tea. It is made with new leaves, which means they are somewhat more delicate and thus call for a lower water temperature than all the other varieties of tea. The two most popular varieties, White Hair Silver Needle and White Peony, are each best steeped at 75-80°C (167-176°F). I'd start with a steeping time of 2-3 minutes and modify it according to your tastes. Bumping up the steeping time will make the tea less mild, while subtracting from it will result in a less astringent cup.

Excepting the above-mentioned matcha, the most difficult type to make perfectly is oolong tea. The traditional gongfu method of brewing uses a number of short infusions using a heaping amount of leaves. A general way of preparation should result in good cup, however. The important thing to pay attention to is the water temperature: it must be slightly under the boiling point.

The guidelines provided are somewhat simple, I am aware. It goes without saying, using the individual guidelines for each individual tea will give you the tastiest cup (get help in buying tea). If you don't have those, however, employing my instructions will yield a good cup of tea, no matter the type. Tea is the most loved beverage in the world, not counting water and let's hope you will give it another try, if you happen to be one of those people who have in the past decided they detest it. You definitely will not regret it. Danny Bell

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