How to make a perfect cuppa tea?

Well, that depends on what tea you are brewing.

Brewing A Cup Of Black Tea or Rooibos

Put one tea bag or rounded teaspoon of whole tea leaves per desired cup into the pot. If you use broken tea leaves, you can use a little less than that – unless you like a strong cup. Use boiling water (this is not as obvious as it seems; I’ll explain later). Using boiling water at the “third boil”, when the water is really bubbling fiercely. Pour the wild-boiling water on the black tea leaves.

Steep the tea for about 5 minutes (2-3 for broken leaves).

Preparing Oolong Tea

Put one tea bag or rounded teaspoon of whole tea leaves per cup into the pot. Steep these in boiling water on the “second boil”. This is when the water starts to dance, steam and hiss – but not quite erupting yet. This water will be about 180-195°F.

Steep the tea for about 7 minutes.

Oolong tea can be re-infused 2-3 times.

Prepare Green Tea

Put two tea bags or rounded teaspoons of whole tea leaves per cup into the pot. Use water in the “first boil”; this is when the water starts to move a little bit. Use a thermometer to establish the right temperature, or let the boiling water cool for about two minutes until it reaches 150-170°F – even lower for Gyokuro (120°F).

Steep the tea for 2-3 minutes.

Green tea can be re-infused 2-3 times.

Brewing White Tea

Put two tea bags or rounded teaspoons of whole tea leaves per cup into the pot.

Steep the tea for about 10 minutes.

White tea can be re-infused 2-3 times.

General Tea Preparation Tips

  • Warm the pot before using by rinsing it with hot water.
  • Use fresh cold water from the tap, unless it it heavily chlorated. Chemicals will seriously affect the taste of your brew.
  • Remove the kettle from the heat source as soon as it boils – leaving it on will de-oxygenate the water, which will result in a flatter flavour.
  • Reheated water will do the same – result in a flat cup of tea.
  • So: always use fresh water to boil; this will allow the tea leaves to open up sufficiently for proper infurion.
  • It is better to steep delicate teas a little longer in cooler water; forcing them to give up their essence in hotter water will produce a bitter cup.
  • Let the tea infuse long enough! A change of colour in the water does not mean that the tea leaves have also passed on the flavours!
Drawing of a tanuki (raccoon dog) as a tea kettle - School of Katsushika Hokusai, 1840's

Drawing of a tanuki (raccoon dog) as a tea kettle - School of Katsushika Hokusai, 1840's