Tea steeping guidelines
by 'Irene Nielsen' - Registered Tea Consultant
- All true tea comes from one tea plant. Anything
else are "tisanes" not real tea. All 8,000+ varieties of teas occur because of
soil conditions, humidity, altitude, time of the year for harvest, the drying or
fermentation process and what the leaves are stored near or aromas the leaves are
infused with. Rooibus or "red bush tea" is a tisane grown only in South
Correctly steeping tea for the best flavor should not be a mystery
with simple guidelines.
Use the best water available and bring to a
full boil. This is not microwaved
water! The stove top boiling water permeated with oxygen in the start of
the boiling process; thus, infusing flavor.
Measure tealeaves into a mesh infuser with room for the leaves to fully
expand to double or more as they unfold and steep the liquor. Pour the water
directly over the leaves in a pre-warmed pot. Time the steeping according to the
type of tea leaves; using a timer. Pay attention and remove the infuser
when the appointed time is elapsed. The leaves may be used a second time or more
as long as a satisfactory flavor continues to be enjoyed. After the first
steeping, the liquor will be decaffinated since the caffeine comes out into the
water in the first 30 - 40 seconds.
Generally start with one
teaspoon of tea leaves per cup to be steeped. You may chose either stronger or
weaker tea by more or less tea leaves. Do NOT extend the designated steeping
time unless you like a bitter tea. The practice of putting the loose leaves into
the bowl of the teapot and merely adding hot water periodically, steeps a bitter
liquor that can only be palatable by adding milk. Please don't ruin our premier teas in this way. If you wish to add
milk, do so for your preference not because you ruined the tea liquor.
Detailed steeping quidelines are published in my book
Teatime Together, Nielsen, I, 2008. To inquire about please use our Contact Us page.
General guidelines are:
are fully fermented in the ovens. Steep 4 - 5 minutes. Exceptions are Darjeeling black for 3 - 4 minutes and any
Assam based tea such as Assam estate, Sunflower Black, Twilight Enchantment,
Prince Jonathan George or Irish Breakfast steep for 3 - 4 minutes only.
Oolongs are semi-fermented
between green and black processing and must have slightly cooler water for not
more than 3 minutes.
Green teas are not fermented at all and are thus
more tender needing water cooled from the boiling point to about 170 degrees for
2 - 3 minutes. Green tea is a better choice in the usual restaurant because
they do not have the capability of providing boiling water for you. Water is
usually taken from the tap alongside of the coffee maker and is at best only 170
degrees. Teabags are discussed more thoroughly elsewhere. Unfortunately in some
circumstances it may be your only polite option. Do NOT wring the bag or dunk it
up and down as though you were washing clothes. Ask for a plate or bowl to
deposit the wet bag. Do not oversteep by leaving it in the cup or place the
soggy bag on the saucer. The water will collect under the cup and drip across
linens and your clothes. If the restaurant provides a separate teapot, put the
bag into the pot - not the cup - during steeping. Often the bag can be
pulled up and caught under the cover to keep it out of the water.
tea is only air dried; so, the leaves and buds are very fluffy.
Use twice the amount for white tea and cooler water - about 170 degrees.
Tea leaf storage Store all
tea in air-tight containers aways from heat and light...not in the refrigerator
or freezer! Teas stored in glass are exposed to light and are quickly ruined.
Teas stored in paper are not air-tight and are stale before you get them home.
Tease stored in plastic, a petroleum based product will take on the ptroleum
flavor unless the plastic is specially lined with an aluminum barier made for tea
Black tea will keep properly stored, a maximum of two years.
Oolong, green and white tea leaves will keep properly stored only one year. Most
people enjoy 5 - 6 cups a day; so, tea leaves probably will not last in your home
the 1 - 2 years. Four ounces of tea normally makes about 50 cups or if used
twice, 100 cups.
Health aspects and research will be added on another