When the forecast predicts arctic wind chills, we call a tea time. There’s no better way to warm up. It’s soothing, soulful, and if you can boil water, you’re more than halfway there. It’s both a ritual we love sharing with others and highly personal. Brewing the perfect cup to your preferred strength and taste is beautifully simple, but still requires a bit of technique. Enter our favorite certified tea specialist Christopher Coccagna, owner of hand-blended SF-based tea shop T-WE Tea, with some expert pointers.
“Great cups of tea start with high quality teas. Loose leaf teas generally are a good place to start, but make sure they have been stored properly–glass jars aren’t best because of light exposure.”
“I generally do 3 grams of tea per 8 oz of water.” To eyeball it, 3 grams = a heaped teaspoon for denser black teas or 2 heaped teaspoons for fluffier herbal tisanes.
“Water temperature is a major factor. Just about boiled water is great for most black teas and herbals. Green teas, white teas, and oolongs need a cooler temperature ranging from 170F to 195F. If you’re unsure, high quality tea providers will give you a temperature recommendation. A handy thing to have is an electric kettle with temperature settings.”
“Look for infusers that allow leaves to expand. When leaves are constricted in a tiny tea ball, they expand and become so densely constricted, hot water can’t extract the goodness within. Use infusers that are almost the same size as your cup, like this one.”
“The length of time for steeping can be a very personal journey. Certain teas, like Japanese green teas (e.g. hoji cha or sen cha) steep rather quickly at a lower water temperature (approximately 30-45 secs for first infusion). Black teas do better with longer times, generally 3-5 mins depending how strong you like it.
By: Cheryl Locke
Photo Credits: Christopher Coccagna, Tea Infuser Basket, T-WE Tea samples.