Popular Post abcdefg Posted May 9, 2015 at 02:10 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted May 9, 2015 at 02:10 PM Let’s start with something practical: How to brew green tea that is not bitter. This is probably the question I get asked most often after sending tea to my friends back home. If they brew it wrong, they wind up with something nasty instead of delicious and wonder what they did wrong. The quality of the tea leaves is important without a doubt, but it’s far from being the whole story. We can talk about different varieties and how to choose them a little later. Most high-quality green teas 绿茶 will be comprised of just the terminal bud and a couple small, tender leaves. 一芽两叶。Green tea loses most of its flavor over time, so it’s best if your tea isn’t more than a year or two old. (Some other teas improve with age, but not green.) The most important variable after the tea itself is of course the water. It needs to taste neutral and not be full of strong-flavored chemicals and minerals. If in doubt, substitute bottled water for tap water until you know how your tea should come out, and then go back and try tap water again to see whether it really matters. Not only is the quality of the water important, but its temperature is critical. The most common error is to use water that’s too hot. Boiling water “kills” green tea, reduces its floral quality and gives it a "bite." About 85 to 90 degrees Celsius will work well for most green tea. Subtle differences exist for different leaves, but that’s still a useful rule of thumb and reasonable starting point. I don’t own a water thermometer and don’t intend to buy one. When making green tea I bring the water to a boil and then let it stand half a minute or so. And when I pour it into the pot or glass, I hold the pouring vessel high so that the stream can cool a bit on the way down. This isn’t really high science. The amount of loose tea leaves to use and the steeping time are the next two major variables. Chinese tea technique, generally speaking, uses lots of leaves and a short steeping time. That principle holds more strongly when you are brewing in a teapot and filling small cups. Let’s look first at the “directly-in-a-glass” brewing method, since it’s real simple and you might not be acquainted with it. Easy to use for one or two people, when you aren't serving guests. It works particularly well with tea that has a small, delicate leaf or leaves that have a “needle” shape. I’ll illustrate with some Anji Baicha 安吉白茶 even though there is argument about whether this is actually white tea or green tea. The method also works beautifully with Longjing (aka Dragon Well) – the best of which comes from near West Lake, outside Hangzhou 西湖龙井。 Use a plain clear drinking glass, about 8 ounces in capacity. It’s OK to use a taller or shorter glass or one with a simple design. But it is best if you can see the tea, so a colored or opaque glass is not as good for this application. Rinse the glass with hot water and pour that out. Fill it about 1/3 full. Sprinkle tea on top of the water until it’s covered in a single layer. Then fill the glass the rest of the way, but not to the brim, about 3/4 full. Leave a cool inch or so at the top so you can grasp it easily when hot. When most of the leaves, 80 or 90%, fall to the bottom of the glass, the tea is ready to drink. If you want to gently swirl the glass a few times to speed the process, that's OK. Admire the up and down "dance" of the leaves, but don't stir them with a spoon. Doesn't need to be strained. It's fine as it is and this is a very authentic Chinese way to enjoy green tea that your friends might not have seen before. Add more hot water when your glass gets low, preferably when it's about 1/3 or 1/4 full. Can replenish it 3 to 5 times, depending on the tea leaves. Longjing tea is expensive, but can be a good investment. It's a very "forgiving" tea; it's easy to make it well. Give it a try. One buying tip that might help is to look for some that is *not* from West Lake. Plenty of good Longjing is made in other parts of Zhejiang that are less famous, and therefore less expensive. Here's how the leaves of Longjing compare in shape to the leaves of Anji Baicha. Once you have brewed your tea, don't forget to fish out a few leaves and spread them on a paper napkin for a closer look. It's not impolite. Questions and comments welcome. 11 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.