There is no Code of Tea Brewing
(save for Douglas Adams' guide to English Tea Brewing), but there are indeed general guidelines
which are worth knowing even if you choose to modify or ignore them.
While we try to follow most guidelines, we know what we like, and if
that means changing things a bit we see no harm therein.
The first guideline is the
most obvious: use good water. Whether you have tap water from
a municipal water company or use water from your own well, your water
has contaminants (some added on purpose and for good reasons). Water
can include chlorine (added to keep water supplies safe) or fluoride
(which drastically improves the health of our teeth) or both of those.
But it also comes with mineral and elemental contaminants, such as copper
and calcium. Regardless of whether all these things are good for you,
they don’t belong in tea.
We filter all the water we
use to make tea, every drop. We use a filter that uses activated carbon
(similar to the filters used in Brita water filters) to remove contaminants
from the water. As a result, the water we start with is crystal clear –
and it has no off tastes!
The amount of tea you use
will have an impact on the strength of your final delicious cup. A good
rule of thumb is to use about one gram, or one teaspoon of tea per cup,
although the best amount of tea will depend on the type of tea, and
your personal preferences.
The optimal temperature for
brewing tea varies among types.
White Tea (such as Bai Mu
Dan) is brewed with water boiled and then allowed to cool to a temperature
Black Tea (Keemun Black)
should be made with water that has boiled and settled. Once the kettle
has reached a rolling boil, remove from heat, wait a minute, and then
pour over your tea. If you’re looking for a temperature guideline,
somewhere between 190ºF and 200ºF is a good range.
The question of how long
to steep your tea needs a caveat. While the guidelines that follow are
in general sound, you need to be led by your own preferences. If you
like a stronger, bracing cup of tea, brew for a longer amount of time
– but if you prefer a more delicate flavor, brew only for one
or two minutes. The right way is going to be the way that produces a
cup of tea that suits your taste.
That being said, we offer
these guidelines for brewing tea:
Bai Mu Dan Tea: One to two minutes
Gunpowder Green Tea: One to three minutes
Jasmine Green Tea: Two to four minutes
Lu Mei Green Tea: One to two minutes
Keemun Black Tea: Two to four
Always add water to tea,
not the other way around. Put your tea in your cup, mug or teapot, and
then add water. To optimize temperature, however, it’s best
to first add a little hot water to your cup or teapot, dump it out,
add the tea and then finally add hot water. This allows the water to
stay hot and steep the tea at an optimal temperature, rather than having
the water temperature immediately brought down, cooled by the need to
heat the teapot or drinking vessel.
Remember that all Little Red Cup Teas may be steeped at least twice. We often steep Bai Mu Dan three times or more. If you are using a teapot (rather than a mug or cup) to make tea, and if a subsequent steeping seems a bit on the weak side, don’t start over, but rather add just a bit more fresh tea to the pot.