Making a Perfect Cup of Chinese Tea
Chinese tea is more than something hot to drink. It’s a beverage that’s steeped in romance and ritual. Learning how to brew loose leaf tea is simple. If you have time to relax and enjoy your tea, you can use traditional methods of brewing in classical Chinese teaware, in a Gaiwan or a Yi Xing pot. If you are just trying to make yourself a nice cup of tea, there are very simple ways of brewing tea. There are a few simple steps we suggest to you to get you started. Please be kindly noted, this brief primer details the essential steps of making gongfu tea and herbs. Please refer to each varietal’s steeping instructions for more information as to proper technique for that specific tea. Come with us, it’s time, enjoy!
01 / TEAWARE
Collect your tea ware. You can use glass, porcelain, Gai Wan (bowl), Yi Xing teapot or even a pint glass. Here, we use Yi Xing pot to give an example and show you how to make perfect cup of Chinese gongfu tea.
We recommend using a gaiwan (bowl) or a yi xing pot to brew Chinese tea if you have time to relax and would like to enjoy your tea in a more traditional fashion.
02 / LEAVES
For one person each serving is about 4 grams. For 2 people use around 6-8 grams. Each tea has a different size, please follow our teas’ steeping instructions below if you don’t have a skill at home.
03 / Water
Tap water is acceptable for most purposes, but a great cup of tea starts with filtered water or spring water. Never use distilled water, or previously-boiled water. The more oxygen in the water, the better the tea will taste.
04 / Fire
Heat the water by stove or electric kettle. Avoid using a microwave to heat your water if possible. In general, lightly or oxidize-free tea (green, white, scented, yellow) use 185 degree water. For heavily oxidized tea (black, wulong, puer) use boiling water.
Remember to let the boiling water sit for about a minute to cool slightly before brewing, so the water is just below the boiling point.
05 / Warm Pot
Fill your pot about 1/3 with the hot water to warm up the pot. Rotate gently about 5 times before you drain out all the water.
06 / Add Tea (Shake & Smell)
Pour your tea leaves into the pot and close the lid. Shake the tea leaves a few times, then open the lid, this allows you to enjoy and smell the dry tea leaves.
07 / Pour Water
Pour small stream of the hot water around outside edge of your pot, then move the water stream inside the pot and make the stream bigger and circle until full up. Use the lid to sweep out the bubbles and cover it. Pour small stream on the top of lid again to make sure the pot is very hot especially when you make oolong, black or puer, but for more dedicate tea like green, yellow or white it’s not necessary.
08 / Brew
Now you can relax and wait for your tea to brew.
The infusion time will vary depending on the type of tea:
- 2-3 minutes for green tea
- 1-3 minutes for black tea
- 10 seconds – 1 minute for oolong tea
- 1-3 minutes for herbal tea
Note: if you like stronger taste, don’t steep longer — add more tea, instead.
09 / Serve Tea
When you are ready to serve your tea, pour the tea very close to the pitcher through strainer to keep the aroma with your tea. In China, we usually fill the drink cups 2/3 with the tea. Now it’s time for you to sip and enjoy your tea.
After you finish the tea, if you want to come more just repeat the steps, rememeber to adjust the infusion time according to your taste.
10 / More Infusions
All our tea can be re-used for many times, and each infusion time is different, it very much depends on how strong you like your tea. In general, the first few infusions are short (around 1-3 minutes), but after the fourth infusion you will need to brew longer to get the remaining flavor out (up to 5 minutes or even more).
Important Brewing Tips
Don’t forget that all Chinese loose leaf tea can be brewed many times. Subsequent cups will not only yield different flavors, but even more nutrition. Just continue to add more of the same temperature water over your leaves.
Leaves of White Tea, Green Tea or Yellow Tea can be infused about four times.
Leaves of Black Tea or Scented Tea can be infused about five times.
Leaves of Oolong Tea or Puer Tea can be infused more than five times.
Between brews, don’t empty your cup or pot completely. Leave a little bit of water over your leaves to strengthen your next brew.
Other than your tea, water and vessel, you often won’t need any extra equipment like an infuser basket or ball. Loose tea steeps beautifully on its own! The most popular way to drink tea in China is to simply put tea leaves in a cup or pot and pour water over them without using any kind of strainer.
Try brewing your favorite teas in a tall glass. This simple way of brewing tea is popular in China because it allows the drinker to appreciate the shape and color of the infusing tea leaf.
Although most whole tea leaves will settle down to the bottom of your cup once they hydrate, some leaves and buds will still naturally float on the surface of the water. Just blow them out of the way before sipping. By the second or third infusion all of the tea leaves will have dropped to the bottom.