When it comes to tea brewing, some tea-brewing basics apply regardless of the tea. In order to make that perfect cup of tea, one should consider several elements, that include water quality and temperature, as well as the brewing time and how much of tea one is actually using. It may seem simple; just pour hot water over some tea, let it sit for a while and that’s it. However, tea making is a more sophisticated process, deserving of even ceremonies in the Far East. Tea is not all about the flavor and taste, but also about the delicacy of the process and the daintiness of one’s commitment to making the tea just perfect.
Making a cup of tea can be a simple, sure thing. In this modern, hectic world no one really has the time to prepare a tea-making ceremony every time they want a cup of tea. However, by making some small adjustments in regards to the technique and the tools, you could be a step closer to enjoying the best your tea could offer, in terms of quality, flavor, color, smell, and taste. And, when thinking of a certain type of tea that could use a little bit of finesse in preparation than it receives, we are pretty sure that green tea is usually prepared in hastiness and impatience. Therefore, we’ve decided to take a look at the preparation methods of green tea and finally come up with the perfect brewing time and preparation process for this outstanding endearment in a cup.
About Green Tea
Before we get brewing, let’s learn a little something about green tea. By now, everyone is probably aware of the numerous health benefits of green tea. It is filled with alkaloids (caffeine), antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds that help our bodies detox and gather additional energy. Green tea is also known to improve the function of metabolism and helps people lose or maintain their weight. It is not considered to be the healthiest beverage in the world for no reason. Green tea is rich in EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which is a compound that enables green tea to have such powerful medicinal properties.
There are also many types of green tea you can enjoy. Because of the green tea processing methods (heating, pan-frying/steaming and drying) complete oxidation is prevented, which makes green tea bitter. Some green teas are more bitter than the others, all depending on the level of oxidation, quality of the plant, time of year when it is harvested, even the way leaves are shaped, rolled and dried. Either way, green tea can be differentiated into two groups; green tea from China and the green tea from Japan.
Chinese green teas go under the names Dragonwell and Gunpowder. Dragonwell is considered to be a classic, pan-friend Chinese green tea that has a characteristic taste. Gunpowder is also pan-fried, but its leaves are more pellet-like, hence the name of the tea. On the other hand, Japanese green tea is more abundant in types and kinds. They have usually been steamed and richer in the green color as well as the unique flavor. Some of the best known Japanese green teas are Sencha, Genmaicha, Matcha, and Hojicha.
How Long to Steep Green Tea?
If you’re using green tea in tea bags, brewing time shouldn’t be much of your concern. Green teas in tea bags are designed to brew quickly, and usually come with instructions (written on the tea package) on how long you should be brewing your tea. The tea leaves in the tea bags are small, which makes them perfect for quick ‘dunking’. However, if you’re using loose leaf green tea, the brewing time is different. When it comes to loose-leaf green tea, the brewing time can even depend on the type of tea you’re using. For example;
- If you’re brewing Sencha green tea, the brew time should be around 1 minute. Deep steamed Sencha tea requires an even shorter brewing time, around 45 seconds, and the light steamed Sencha requires up to 1 minute and 15 seconds.
- If you’re brewing Gunpowder, Chinese green tea, the brew time should be around 3 to 5 minutes. If you desire the tea to be stronger, you can leave it to brew a little longer, or if you desire less concentration, brew it around 3 minutes.
- If you’re brewing Genmaicha green tea, the brew time should be up to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Some types of Genmaicha are brewed no longer than 30 seconds; especially if you’re brewing the tea in a Japanese teapot kyusu, that is called dobin (there are several types of Japanese teapots that retain the heat longer, hence the short brewing time).
- If you’re making Matcha tea, make sure you’re prepared, as you’ll need a lot of tools to brew the tea properly. Matcha green tea is a powdered tea, so the brewing is not actually quite the same as it is for other loose-leaf green teas. It will usually take you up to 30 seconds of whisking of the tea before it is ready for consumption.
- If you’re brewing Hojicha, the brewing time can vary between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. The best-recommended brewing time, however, is up to 1 minute and 30 seconds. At this point, the tea releases the most robust, sweetest flavor and taste. If you want the tea to have a stronger, nuttier aroma, feel free to let it brew up to 3 minutes.
In general, white tea, green teas, and Oolong teas should not be left to brew for more than 3 minutes. The more the teas brew, the bitter the taste, so the adjustment of water temperature and the brewing time is really important in order to get the perfect cup of tea.
Other Important Elements to keep in mind
When it comes to brewing green tea, there are several elements you should keep in minds.
For the green tea to brew properly, you must use fresh water. Oxygen in the water helps the green tea leaves to infuse properly, helping them draw out the flavor and release the aroma. If you do not refill your kettle with fresh water each time you bold it, your tea will have a flat taste, and it will probably have scum floating on the top. Therefore, for green tea it is best to use fresh, pure, cold filtered water; in this case, spring water would be the best. If you’re using tap water, make sure it is not ‘hard water’, meaning, that it does not have unusually high levels of chlorine, fluoride or limescale. If the tap water turns out to be ‘hard’, you should consider filtering it before the use. This will make the infusion process much more effective, leaving you with an exceptional cup of green tea.
It is not only important to use fresh water, but also to adjust its temperature properly, especially in the case of green tea. If you’re using water that is too hot, the tea will surely taste bitter. And, if you’re using water that is not hot enough, the tea won’t be able to infuse properly. Usually, freshly boiled water should do the job, however, in the case of green teas, you should aim at the temperature between 80 to 85 °C (176 to 185 °F). The misconception is that green tea, even at the right temperature, will have a bitter taste. But, if you adjust the temperature as instructed before, each component of the tea will dissolve properly, without each overpowering the others. That will make the tea taste just perfect.
How Much Tea?
Usually, for most teas, it is fine to use a heaped teaspoon per 350 ml (12fl oz) of water. If you prefer stronger green tea, you can add another spoonful if you’re brewing your tea in a pot. For green tea, you should be using 2 grams of loose-leaf green tea per 8fl oz of water. Any more than that might just ruin the taste and could actually prevent all the leaves to infuse properly. If you’re using green tea in a tea bag, make sure to follow the instruction for steeping that is written on the tea package.
Overall, brewing green tea isn’t that hard. Over time you will get to know the taste of the tea you prefer, as well as the brewing time you prefer. If you’re having trouble dealing with the loose-leaf tea, you can always look for teapots with built-in infusers, or teacups with a ball, collapsible basket or clip-on infusers. For those who are struggling with the right brewing time, you can also buy a tea brewing timer, which you can set to the desired time once you pour the hot water over the leaves in the teapot. You can also use kettles that come with options to heat the kettle up to the desired temperature; simply set the kettle to 85 degrees, and there you have it, perfectly tempered water. Over time, this will surely become a routine when it comes to tea preparing, so you might as well enjoy the process as much as you can. After all, the results are pretty amazing, aren’t they?