For thousands of years, philosophers have debated whether humans are fundamentally good or bad. Do we have a good nature that is corrupted by society, or an inherent bad nature that is kept in check by society? This made us think about tea. Whilst it may not have an inherent moral disposition, it is indeed sensitive to the human touch point. You can take an inherently good tea and butcher it with the wrong water temperature or brewing time. A common culprit of this human negligence is Green Tea. We have heard it described as 'bitter, astringent, unpleasant and dry' and this makes us sad. The tea is GOOD; the preparation is BAD. So let us walk you through the brewing recommendation for tea to ensure that you nurture its good nature.
There are two main T's one must be mindful of when brewing Tea. That is; Time and Temperature.
Time & Temperature:
(Approximate guide to tea categories. Specific teas require specific parameters that your tea supplier should supply you with)
- WHITE TEA: 70 degree water brewed for 3-5 minutes
Here's why: White Tea is very delicate. It is the fresh new bud of the tea plant and as such delicate, sensitive, and pure. The lower water temperature ensures the tea is not burned straight off the bat. The longer time ensures the full flavour has time to flourish.
- GREEN TEA: 75 degree water brewed for 1-2 minutes
Here's why: Green Tea is usually the pick of two leaves and a bud. Once it is picked it is very quickly roasted and dried in order to preserve its rich green colour. This deep green colour bursts with flavour, complexity and nutrients if brewed correctly. If the water is too hot you are burning the leaf and making it release dryness and astringency. If you brew it correctly (short brew time and cooler water) you will release deep vegetal, nutty, and sweet flavour profiles. It's delicious!
- OOLONG TEA: 85 degree water brewed for 1 minute
Here's why: Oolong tea is one of the most complex tea (in our opinion). It sits between a green and black tea and as such is very sensitive to its brewing guide. A very lightly oxidised oolong tea (usually light green) needs to be brewed similar to a green tea. A heavily oxidised oolong (dark roasted colour) might need a longer brew time and higher temperature to release its ideal flavour. We recommend speaking to your tea supplier about your unique oolong and how to brew it best.
- BLACK TEA: 95 degree water brewed for 3 minutes
Here's why: Black Tea can take the heat. It is a more mature leaf that has been fully oxidised. As such you can put close to boiling water on it for a longer amount of time and it will thrive.
- PUERH TEA: 100 degree water brewed for 1 minute
Here's why: This tea is strong and flavoursome. The tea is processed as a black tea and then placed in temperature and humidity controlled facilities in order for it to mature and ferment. The flavour can be intense and as such only requires a very short brewing time for it to come alive.
- TISANE INFUSIONS: 95 degree water for at least 4 minutes
Here's why: Tisanes are not tea. As in, it does not come from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis). It is usually a combination of dried flowers, fruits, spices and herbs such as lavender, chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass etc. You need to brew it for quite a while in order to extract the flavour.
Some teas require you to rinse the leaf before you brew it. This is common among Chinese teas and especially Oolong tea. To rinse it simply get the recommended water temperature and wash it over the leaves and discard this water. Then begin your brewing. Rinsing the leaf will help begin the re-hydration process and physically wash any impurities off the leaf.
For a specific example of brewing a tea, you can watch Sarah our Tea Sommelier brew our Oolong here.