Drinking tea is not a difficult task for every one, while to make a good pot of tea is not so easy. There are a number of secrets. With the tea of the same quality, one can have different tastes of tea when using different water, tea sets and brewing techniques.
Making a pot of tea, one should pay attention not only to practicability and scientificity but also to its artistry. Practicability requires one to take into consideration the actual need and condition, whether to make an ordinary big-bowl tea or a pot of top-grade tea. Scientificity requires one to know well the specialty of each kind of tea as well as the scientific brewing techniques in order to bring out the best quality of the tea. Artistry requires one to choose suitable tea sets and adopt graceful and civilized brewing manners.
1. Know well the specialty of each kind of tea
Before making a pot of tea, one should first know well the specialty of the tea. By doing so, one can choose the most appropriate brewing technique suitable to a specific tea and bring out its best quality. One fascinating thing about tea is that its quality is affected by various factors, such as weather, land and grower. Even the same cluster of tealeaves, grown by the same person in the same place and at the same time, their quality differs slightly from each other. If one masters the characteristics of various kinds of tea, she/he will be able to make at least a good pot of one special kind, which is both appealing and tasty and invites the feeling of being fascinated at the first sight and first sip.
2. Control the amount
How much tea should be put into the pot depends on the specialty of each kind of tea as well as the brewer's habit. Generally speaking, the standard amount (the amount used by the professional tea brewer when making a pot of tea) is 3 grams of tea brewed with 150 cc water for 5 minutes. Usually use cap-cup to drink non-fermented green tea, fermented black tea, slightly fermented white tea and scented tea. Use the purple clay pot to make half-fermented Oolong, with an amount of 2/3 teapot if use uncooked tea, 1/2 to 2/3 teapot if use half-cooked tea, and 1/3 to 1/2 teapot if use cooked tea. All these are general standards, and one can adjust the amount according to one's own habit. The following principles may of a reference: 1) increase the amount if one likes to drink strong tea; 2) reduce the amount when brewing top-grade tea; 3) shorten each brewing time when using a large amount of tea while increase the number of times.
The ratio of water to tealeaf depends on the quality of tea and the drinking method. Generally speaking, famous tea or top-grade tea requires a ratio of 50:1, and ordinary black, green, white and scented tea 75:1. Black tea fannings should go with milk while ice tea should accompany ice cube, so strong tea is required with a ratio of 50:1. The ratio of water to Oolong is 25:1, and one should use a small cup and drink with small sips due to the thick consistency.
3. Choose appropriate tea sets and water
When making tea, one should pay attention not only to tealeaf's shape, color, scent and taste but also to the teapot's quality and artistic design to set off the elegant tealeaf. Generally, big teapot is chosen when one wants to satisfy thirst while small pot is used when one desires to taste and appreciate tea. The size of teapot also depends on the number of drinkers.
Tea of top quality should be brewed with top-grade water to fully bring out its best. Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea) and Hupao Spring (Tiger Spring) are reputed as the two superb things of Hangzhou City. Even though the tea-brewing water deserves careful study, one should bear in mind the actual condition when making tea. Water, which reaches drinking standard and will bring out the best of tea, can be chosen to make tea. If condition allows, one can use natural spring water or lake water or river water, which is a better choice for sure.
The boiling time of the water should be under strict control to avoid under-boiled or over-boiled. Water should be boiled with violent fire and water is ready when numerous small crab-eye-shaped air bubbles rise to the surface and big fish-eye-shaped air bubbles have not yet come into being. Water should not be boiled with slow fire, because the gas dissolved in water will gradually lose over a long-time boiling and tea brewed with such water will lack freshness.
4. Control the water temperature
Since different kinds of tea are produced in different environments and have their own specialties, they require different water temperature suitable to bring out their best quality. So control on the water temperature during tea brewing is a key. Generally, better use boiled water to brew old tealeaves, while cool down the boiled water a little bit to brew tender tealeaves. To be more specific, some kinds of tea, such as Oolong and Pu'er, cannot be picked until new twigs mature. The leaves of such tea are not so tender that they should be brewed with boiling water at 100 C in order to soak out the tea juice. Most green tea, scented tea, white tea and yellow tea do not have specific requirement of when to pick, so they can be brewed with just boiled water. Top grade green tea and some famous kinds of tea, which should be picked when they are tender, cannot be brewed with boiling water, or else, such nutrient as vitamin C will be destroyed, their scent and taste will lose and the brewed leaves will turn yellow. So one should wait until the water temperature cools down to about 80 C, in this way, the tea will have clear water, pure scent, fresh taste and bright-colored leaves. As for the brick tea used by minority groups, it should be pounded to pieces before brewing, because even boiling water cannot soak out its juice due to the coarse material that has been compressed under high pressure.
5. Control the brewing time
If the brewing time is not long enough, the scent of tea cannot be fully brought out; while if the time is too long, the taste will become acerbity. To control the appropriate brewing time and have the best taste of the tea is what all tea lovers are longing for. How to harmonize sour, sweet, bitter and astringent tastes of the tea to the best point is a technique. To know well the specialty of different tea and control the amount, water temperature and brewing time is no doubt a must, but one will find an innovative answer through repeated self-experiments and enjoy infinite fun.
The length of the brewing time varies according to the species of the tea and the amount. Tea brewed with boiling water first gives out theine, amino acid, and vitamin, with the content increasing to the highest in three minutes. Here, the tea tastes fresh and strong but lacks stimulating flavor. When time goes by, other substances such as polyhydric phenol will be soaked out, adding to the acerbity. So one should control the brewing time to get fresh and strong tea. Generally, brewing time should be short for those tender and strong-scent tealeaves of a large amount, while a long brewing time is required for coarse and strong-taste tealeaves of a small amount. For those who like drinking strong tea, better brew the tea for a longer time; while for those who prefer a weak taste, better shorten the time.