What is Brewing?
Brewing tea is not just a matter of adding hot water, letting steep for a few minutes and serving. Brewing tea is a lifetime of learning and experimentation to suit one’s palette as everybody likes to drink there tea differently. In order to guide you better, here are:
1. Tea bags vs. Loose Leaf
In order to enjoy tea the way it was intended to drink, never use commercial tea bags. Why? Because most commercial tea bags use teas that are lower quality and machine plucked (which means there are a lot of thing in there besides the tea leaf). The tea used are powders which have a larger surface area which will extract more quickly (appear darker in the cup) but will also include bitter notes that you don’t want to drink.
The common belief that tea brewed in tea bags brews faster than a loose leaf is a myth. In the same period of time, one can enjoy a cup of tea as both will infuse; however, the tea bag will taste flat and dusty whereas a loose leaf extraction will expose its various terroirs of flavor.
2. Amount of tea leaf, Western vs. Eastern?
The amount of tea leaves you use is fundamental to your tea drinking experience. There is no way to extract the richness of flavor with smaller amounts of tea leaves as you cannot substitute this with time brewed.
The more tea leaf you use, the better the tea will be and the difference will show itself in both taste and texture.
A tea brewed with less leaf will have an aroma but have a flat taste, as if it were a 15th infusion instead of the first infusion.
A tea brewed with more leaf is creamy and bursting with floral flavor, thick with texture with an aroma that is intense and continuous with a slight tang at the edge of the tongue.
3.Do you leave the tea in the water after brewing?
Never leave tea leaves in the water after brewing as they will stew. The tea will continue to extract what you don’t want and the end result will be an oxidized dry taste and texture.
4.Temperatures Affect on Tea Brewing
Temperature affects which compounds are extracted and the balance of the liquor. If you put boiling water on tea leaves it will extract faster and if you cool the water, it will extract slower.
90° vs. 82° water (for green tea)
In the case of a green tea (steamed leaf) the tea must be brewed with water that has been cooled to 80°.
Young tea leaves (which are all tea leaves that have been hand plucked two leaves and a bud) contain high levels of catechins and catechins will extract very quickly in very hot water. The problem with this is that too many will be released resulting in a bitter outcome.
Although catechins are beneficial to your health, you want to extract just the right amount to add strength and bit of a bite to your tea. Cooling brewing slows it down allowing compounds to get separated elements that have crossed the line into the liquor.
A green tea brewed with boiling water will start with a nice initial flavor and then will be hit with an intense bitterness.
Whereas a green tea brewed with 82° water will be soft, smooth, with a tinge of bitterness which will move to sweetness.
5. Taking Advantage of Multiple Infusions
With regards to green tea leaves ONLY, it is important to note that you can achieve multiple infusions with your tea leaves.
Value for Money- This is not just about getting the most value from your tea, although this makes a good point. This is taking advantage of the various taste difference you will experience by doing so. We like to equate this with how wine tastes after you open it.
The amount of infusions one can achieve from your green tea will enable the consumer to judge the quality of the tea. You may achieve between a minimum of 3 infusions and up to 8 infusions.
Black tea should not be infused more than once. Depending on the amount of leaf in your pot, you may attempt to steep it once more; however you will need to do so for least 2 minutes more. The reason why you cannot achieve multiple infusions with black tea is because the tea is fired.