May 11 2017 In Tea Journal By Kenneth Roberts
3 Steeps to Happiness
Photo credit: Side Hustle Stories
With each purchase of our tea, we always include our steeping recommendations for a mellow, well-brewed cup. Many of our customers who are new to the complexities of loose-leaf tea appreciate this, as it gives them a good place to start their tea journey.
As our customers gain more experience in making loose-leaf tea, we also encourage them to start experimenting with their tea brewing to see if they can discover new nuances to their enjoyment. Factors that will affect a tea's brewing result are the amount of tea, temperature of water, and length of time it is left to steep. How you steep your tea can make all the difference in the world. Adjusting any of these factors is a way to play and explore to find exactly what gives your palate the most satisfaction. You are the one in control of how strong, how light or even how many steeps you can get out of your tea.
For example, if you like your cup stronger, just add a little more tea leaf, rather than letting it steep longer. When tea is over-steeped in the hot water, the tannin pulled from the leaves can leave the flavor of your cuppa bitter and one-note. For a lighter cup, use a little less loose-leaf tea. And, while leaving the tea to steep longer can make it bitter, if you like it lighter, you can actually shorten the steeping time without changing the amount of leaves used, which will also increase the number of steeps you will get.
Personally, I enjoy getting the most out of life, especially when it comes to my teas. When I steep tea for myself, there are times I really only want a single steep. Other days I may have more time to enjoy my tea and want to get at least three steeps out of my leaves.
For instance, our Peregrine Mountain is a fantastic Yunnan black tea I love dearly. If I am doing a single cup, I will do one teaspoon and steep it at 195 degrees for 5 minutes. I prefer my tea brewed strong and thick, so if I have more time and plan on enjoying several cups, I will do a teaspoon and a half or even two teaspoons for every cup and steep it multiple times.
One of my other favorites is our Anthony and Cleopatra Hearts. This tea is what I describe as chewy—a dark, round, earthy, heavy black tea. It only takes a single heart to do a great cup, plus an additional steep. If I am planning on hanging out for the day and reading a book, I will do a pot with 3 hearts and resteep it several times throughout the day.
I don’t just resteep with bold, dark teas, either. Our King Hsuan Oolong is so packed with gentle flavor that one teaspoon at 175 degrees can be steeped over and over again. My favorite way to do the King Hsuan is to do a teaspoon and a half in a smaller cup and keep adding water before my cup is emptied. I actually think the third steep is the absolute best, but I have gotten as many as ten steeps from a single teaspoon, and enjoyed each one.
At the end of the day, tea is a very personal experience. The perfect cup will be different for every tea lover. Using the amount of tea and using the steep time that is right for you will enhance your cuppa experience.