How To Make A Perfect Cup of Green Tea
The Easy Way to Brew Green Tes
Experts, Vendors, connoisseurs and enthusiasts vary widely in their advice on how to prepare loose-leaf green tea. And methods are different between varieties of tea too: for some green teas, like Anji Bai Cha and Dragonwell (Long Jing), the recommended water temperature is high - up to 95C (about 200F) for the first infusion; for others, like the delicate Bi Luo Chun or Meng Ding Ganlu, the recommended temperature is a much cooler 80C (about 175F) or even less. But I’ve found consistent and delicious results using the following methods, which don’t involve measuring temperatures, or even weighing a precise amount of leaves to make the perfect cuppa.
I've given two brewing methods below, for robust teas like Anji, and for more delicate ones too. All the pictures show Anji tea, often called Anji Bai Cha White tea although it is a green tea because of the method of processing used to prepare the freshly harvested plants, and the amount of leaves you will use for the more delicate teas will be much less, as I've explained in the text below.
Anji Bai Cha, Dragonwell, Silver Needle and White Peony
For Anji, Dragonwell, Silver Needle and White Peony, put two or three good pinches of leaves into a glass jug. The photos on the right show you what I mean by ‘a pinch’, and how much tea I use in total. Using a lot of tea leaves will make the infusion bitter; using too few will result in a very weak cup that won’t provide you with a decent amount of the antioxidants, polyphenols and amino acids that are the reason for Green Tea’s marvellous array of health and well-being benefits.
Use fresh water in the kettle – previously-boiled water can make the tea taste a bit flat – and bring the water almost to a boil. It should be starting to hiss, but shouldn’t quite be bubbling.
Then pour about 200 to 250ml over the leaves in the jug - this is about a normal teacup size – but if you want to make a mugful, adjust the amount of leaves you use, and add another ‘pinch’ for every extra 100ml of water you use.
Part of the delight of Green Tea is the aroma, so while your tea is brewing, enjoy the scent and inhale the rising steam from the jug. A high quality Anji Bai Cha smells gorgeous - deep and luxurious, it reminds me of fresh woody smells, like a crisp day on the cusp of Summer and Autumn. Watch the leaves, too, they will unfurl and transform your jug into a tiny jungle as they float to the bottom.
It will take about three or four minutes for the first infusion to brew, and you’ll know it’s ready when the leaves have sunk to the bottom of the jug. The liquid should be a pale green.
Bi Luo Chun and Meng Ding Ganlu
For these teas, the method is slightly different. First, pour the water into the glass jug - again, about 200-250ml - and then add a pinch or two of leaves. Two points are relevant here - bring the water in the kettle to a near-boil, as described above for Anji and Dragonwell - the water will cool a few more degrees as you pour it into the jug and also as it hits the cold glass, and this will bring it to the right, cooler temperature that these two quite fragile teas prefer. The second point is that a 'pinch' of these leaves is much smaller than a pinch of Anji or Dragonwell: both Meng Ding and Bi Luo Chun are very tiny bud-like leaves, rolled small. This is good, because these teas can become bitter much more easily than the more robust ones mentioned earlier, and you need to use quite a lot less. If you do use these varieties and your brew is too astringent, try letting the water cool for a couple of minutes before you add the leaves, and try using just a single good pinch for 200ml water. These two teas need to brew for the first infusion for around a minute and a half, and for the second and subsequent infusions for just about a minute - the longer you let the leaves steep after this time, the more bitter will be your tea.
Straining the Tea and Reinfusing
For all teas, the method of straining is the same, and for the teas I have mentioned here (and in fact most of the green and white teas I've personally tried), the amount of reinfusions is the same.
Place a strainer over your mug to catch the leaves, and pour the liquid into a porcelain or glass mug. Glazed porcelain and glass don’t absorb flavour and smell, so by using these, you won’t get the faint odour of the coffee you had earlier!
The tea should be drunk while it’s hot (though of course not so hot that it burns your mouth!), because as it cools, the antioxidants will begin to degrade and the liquid will turn brown.
You can reinfuse high quality green tea another 2 or 3 times. For the second and subsequent infusions, bring the kettle to near-bubbling point again, but pour it into a mug first and then pour this, slightly cooled water, onto the leaves, and let it infuse for just a minute or two. Again, the liquid should be a pale green.