|Water boiling in a kettle|
- Boil the water. Using a kettle, bring more than enough water to a boil. The better tasting your water, the better tasting your tea. The best water is filtered or bottled (but not distilled). If using tap water, let it run cold for 10 seconds before using it for tea. Make sure you only boil the water one time. If you boil the water more than once, the oxygen levels in the water will be reduced and make the tea taste flat.
- Pre heat whatever you want to put the tea in. This will prevent the steeping water from dropping in temperature as soon as it is poured in. Add a little boiling water to a ceramic or porcelain teapot or the individual cups--wherever the tea will be steeped (ceramic and porcelain retain heat well). Cover the teapot with the lid and a cozy, if you have one. Let the water stand until the vessel is warm, then pour out the water and proceed immediately to the next step.
- Put the tea in an infuser, strainer, or directly in the bottom of the teapot. Steeping without an infuser or strainer gives the tea more room to unfold and release additional flavor. Start with one heaped teaspoon per cup of tea to be made, unless you have instructions which say otherwise. The amount of loose tea you use will depend on the type and strength of the tea, as well as your individual taste, so a little experimentation may be in order.
- Add hot water. Pour it over the tea. Use an amount in proportion to the quantity of tea you've added (eg. 5 cups of water for 5 teaspoons of tea). The ideal water temperature varies based on the type of tea being steeped. The more oxidized (fermented) the tea (e.g. black tea) the hotter the water should be, whereas less oxidized teas (white, green) should be steeped in water that isn't as hot.
- White or green teas (full leaf): Well below boiling (170-185 F or 76-85 C). When the water boils, turn off the heat and let the water cool for 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea before pouring it over the leaves.
- Oolongs (full leaf): 185-210 F or 85-98 C
- Black teas (full leaf): Water must be at a rolling boil (212 F or 100 C). The most common mistake is to steep black tea with water that is not hot enough, which can prevent the active substances in black tea from developing.
- Pu-erhs: Full rolling boil (212 F or 100 C).
- Tea bags: Never let the water boil. Since tea bags often include tea dust and fannings (the smallest tea particle grades) and so have more surface area, use slightly less hot water.
- Oolong teas: 4-7 minutes
- Black teas: 3-5 minutes
- Green teas: 2-3 minutes