Making tea is a delicate art. Not everyone knows how to make tea the right way. Some learn by trial and error; some use tea-making books; while some never learn at all.
There are seven factors that you need to keep in mind while brewing tea. These are:
1. Quality of tea: This is most important. You must buy the best quality tea from a reputed store. The tea needs to be fresh, and should have been manufactured rightly if it is to produce good results.
2. Quality of water: Don’t take water for granted. You need tasty, fresh water if you want the tea to be brewed properly. Those who use distilled water will never know the taste of good tea.
3. Measurement: This varies from individual to individual. Some like their teas strong; some like them light. The standard measure is one rounded teaspoon tealeaf per 8 oz cup. However, you must arrive at your own measure based on the density of the tealeaves you use.
4. Steeping temperature: This varies for different varieties of tea. Black tea requires boiling water at 212 degrees, Oolong tea is brewed best between 190 to 203 degrees, Green teas brew better at temperatures between 160 and 180 degrees and White teas brew best between 150 to 160 degrees. Puerh teas should be made with boiling water and should be steeped for a long time to produce good results. Herbal teas too should be brewed in boiling water.
5. Steeping time: This also differs for different teas. Black teas take 4 to 6 minutes, Darjeeling teas take 2 to 3 minutes, Oolongs may take 3 to 4 or even 6 to 8 minutes, Green teas take 2 to 3 minutes, White teas take 2 to 3 minutes. Puerh teas need at least 7 to 8 minutes; some Puerh teas need to be steeped for even 20 minutes. Similarly, most herbal teas require a minimum 5-6 minutes, though some may need 10 minutes or more.
6. Space for tealeaf: You should brew tea in large, deep pans to enable them to expand up to 3 to 5 times their size. Avoid tea balls, which do not allow any room for expansion and thus prevent the flavour from being released into the liquid. The best way is to brew leaves loose in the pot.
7. Separating the leaf from the liquid at the end of the steeping process: If steeped too long, most teas will turn bitter. So use a tea infuser or just strain the brewed tea away from the leaves.