Green tea is much more delicate than black tea, and needs to be treated carefully. Brewing a pot of Green Tea in Japan is a complicated ritual, and is considered an art form by many people. Making a good cup of green tea, therefore, will take more time and effort than simply blasting a teabag with boiling water. However, the method outlined below is relatively simple, and with practise should help you to make your perfect cup of green tea.
First of all, you need to abandon your ideas about brewing tea. Green tea is a very different drink from black tea or herbal infusions. Here’s a step by step guide to proper brewing.
1. The pot
First of all, you will need a proper pot. This should be a clay pot. The size is not as important as the clay, which ideally should be yixing clay (Ask in a Japanese or Chinese food store.) Green tea needs room to expand when it brews, so tea bags or tea balls will not be suitable. A classic teapot will have a filter inside.
2. The tea
Green tea lasts for about six months. Once you’ve opened a packet, you should use it within 2 or 3 months. The best kind of tea comes from the first spring harvest, in April or May, and you can buy this kind throughout the year. Make sure the tea has been well packaged – sealed or vacuum packed.
3. The water
Tap water is sometimes full of impurities – if you are unsure of the quality of your water then use filtered, spring or mineral water. Good tea needs good water!
First of all, boil your water. Pour it into the pot (empty pot just now, no tea leaves yet), and leave it for a minute. Then pour some of the boiled water into the teacups – fill all the cups you will be using to the amount of tea you would like in each cup. Discard the extra water from the tea pot, but not the tea cups yet.
Now your pot and cups are warmed, the exact amount of water is measured out, and your water should be around the right temperature. The water temperature is a very important part of the brewing process. Green tea should not be made with boiling water, rather with water at around 70 C for sencha tea. If your water is too hot, the tea can turn bitter. (This is around the point when tiny bubbles start to rise in the heating water). For ‘gyokuro’ tea, the temperature should be even lower – around 55 C.
Now, put 1 heaped teaspoon of tea leaves per 8 ounces of water into the warmed pot. Pour the water from the teacups into the pot, and brew for no more than 2 minutes. Pour the tea into the cups, and enjoy!
Cory Willins writes tea articles for The Tea Spot