How to Make the Cup of Perfect Chinese Tea
The Art Of Tea
As a centuries-old tradition that has truly survived the test of time, making and enjoying a cup of Chinese tea is a must for all first-time visitors to the country. The art of preparing a well-brewed and refreshing cup, however, is not as simple as it seems as a series of steps are required to achieve the best result. Here is a step by step guide on how to make a cup of exquisite Chinese tea right at home or during a trip to the republic.
1. Gather the Required Materials
Those who wish to prepare Chinese tea for the first time must make sure all the tools and utensils required are close at hand. One needs a ceramic teapot, kettle, tea strainer, a brewing try, a tea towel, water, loose tea leaves and teacups. A tea towel, as well as tongs and snifter cups, will also be useful while those who wish to enjoy a small snack with their Chinese tea can prepare side dishes filled with pistachios or dried plums.
2. Prep the Tea Set
Unlike preparing black tea or any other cup of tea, the tea set must first be washed in hot water before the preparation can begin. Place the teapot as well as the teacups in a bowl and pour hot water on top of these utensils so the cups and the pot are warm. Use tongs to remove the immersed tea set and pot out of the hot water and dry with a cloth. Do not use your hands as the water temperature and the hot ceramics will prove too warm to handle without tongs.
3. Step One
Scoop out a handful of tea leaves from a well-sealed canister and put it in the teapot. There are various types of Chinese tea in the market and this includes those with various flavours. Do not purchase tea bags for making Chinese tea as loose tea leaves are required to brew in a pot. It does not serve to remove tea leaves from the bag and immerse the contents in the pot as the texture of bagged tea and loose tea are not the same. The step of putting the tea leaves in the pot is identified as "the black dragon enters the palace." Then it is time to pour in the boiling hot water and depending on the number of teaspoons or scoops one put in the pot, it is necessary to calculate the amount of water by allocating 6 ounces of water per teaspoon of tea.
4. Brewing Basics
Chinese tea must be brewed in the right water temperature as different types of leaves will require different water temperatures to brew well. White and green tea, for example, should be immersed in water between 172 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit while black tea requires water temperatures of 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Oolong tea, on the other hand, needs water temperatures of 185 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use distilled or hard water as the best type of water for brewing tea is mountain spring water or bottled water. Then it is time to put the teapot in a bowl and pour heated water until it overflows. This is to make sure the temperatures inside and outside the pot is uniform.
5. Second Brewing
The tea that is brewed this way is quickly discarded to remove bacteria and other impurities from the leaves. The same leaves are then brewed once more with hot water and it is allowed to percolate by closing the lid of the pot. The steeping time also depends on the quality and the size of the leaves. Green tea should not be left for more than 3 minutes while black tea takes at least 3 to 5 minutes to brew. Oolong tea can be steeped for 10 minutes maximum. Use a tea sifter to separate the leaves from the liquid and pour the tea into teacups. Chinese tea should be enjoyed while hot and in a traditional tea set as those sold in Asian shops around the world as well as in Chinese tea houses near Citadines Keqiao Shaoxing and many other Shaoxing serviced apartments.