When you ask someone why they do not like tea, often times the answer is Well, it just tastes bitter" What's interesting about this response is that a lot of people do not realize that they are likely responsible for creating that bitter taste. To simplify steeping guidelines, ideally when you think black tea, it is safe to think boil. For all other tea (Green, Oolong, Pu'erh, White) you want your water to be under boiling. The reason for this, when you use boiling water, you actually risk burning the tea leaves, which can make your tea taste bitter or astringent.
Heating the water to the optimal temperature will also draw out the right balance of amino acids. This is what helps to create the optimal level of flavor, sweetness, and tannins. If the water temperature is too low, it may not extract the full range of flavors. If the temperature is too high, the tea will taste overly bitter and astringent.
Temperature is just as important as timing. Under steeping can result in a bland and boring brew while over steeping can produce an undesirable level of tannins, astringency, and too strong of a beverage. Generally, black tea and oolong should be steeped 4-5 minutes, green and white tea 3-4 minutes, and herbal blends 5-6 minutes. Of course, at the end of the day it's all about preference.
When finding the right type of green tea for you, think about how green tea is processed. Two of the most popular styles of green tea are Japanese green tea and Chinese Green tea. What's the difference and why does it matter? My mentor, Shabnam Weber (Tea Sommelier Educator & Owner of The Tea Emporium) explains it perfectly:
"Imagine you are cooking broccoli, and you choose to pan roast it on your stove top. What does that taste like? It tastes roasted, nutty, and charred. This is how Chinese green tea is generally procssed. It is pan fired. Now imagine you take that broccoli, but this time, you choose to steam it. The flavour is more soft, vibrant, grassy with a hint of sweetness. Japanese green tea is generally steamed during processing.
Not only will knowing these two primary key differences in the styles of green tea will help you choose what style is suited for your own preferences, though you will also look like a total pro next time you enjoy a cup at a restaurant and say with confidence in front if your company which country the tea you are tasting is likely from. At Tease Tea, we tend to prefer using Japanese green tea for our fruit forward blends to compliment the sweet undertones and floral blends with Chinese green tea to match that earthiness.
Such a simple yet amazing life changer. Why warm your cup? When you warm your cup before steeping tea, you are retaining the temperature of your tea longer. Therefore, you can enjoy your tea at optimal flavour longer. It's like serving food on cold plates. Just don't do it, it makes people cringe.
General rule to not over complicate things: 1 heaping tsp per cup (8 oz) of water. That's it, that's all. Do not over stuff your tea filter or infuser. Doing so will not allow the leaves an opportunity to actually expand and grow or release their full flavours. Overstuffing your infuser constricts this process or emits too much flavour into your cup which can result in a tanic, bitter cup of tea. Plus, why would you use too much tea in one cup if you don't have to?