One of the questions we are asked after guests taste our tea is why they can't replicate the same taste at home. One of the most important ingredients to brewing any particular tea well is just a little bit of patience. Allowing for things to play out and adapting your methods can have a transformative change on new and favorite selections alike. Green teas generally have the least wiggle room due to their delicate, fresh nature and how quickly they release taste. However, patience can still be applied to allow the water to cool down to the correct level to avoid burning the tea and bring out more of its natural sweetness.
Black tea has the most consistent brewing parameters and depends more on the vessel used for steeping and high water temperatures. With a classic teapot, you can expect a delightful taste that is medium to full-bodied. Since tannin is the main part of the taste, you will want to use water temperatures just off of boiling to bring out tannins. Limiting the steeping time to 1-2 minutes will allow for a couple more re-steeps and create a brew that is balanced and not too bitter, especially with higher-quality tea leaves.
Oolong and Puerh teas are much more flexible, and having 5-10 multiple steepings allows you to learn from every successive brewing. When I first come across an oolong or puerh, I fill the teapot with just enough water (off of boiling) to cover the tea leaves and quickly pour it out. I lift the lid to allow the steep to escape and replace it, leaving it slightly ajar. This is when 2-3 minutes of patience is the main ingredient. While you are waiting, the leaves are delicately rehydrating and expanding. The core of the leaves is returning to life, while oxygen and water are creating magic. When you lift the lid to add water for the first brew, you will notice that the leaves have stretched out and are ready to begin releasing flavor and aroma.
This initial waiting period will set the stage for the entire session and allow you to dig deeper into the taste of your leaves, especially for older teas. Old caked Puerh can be especially stubborn and benefit significantly from being gently woken from its slumber. Be patient, don't force it, and allow it to develop! You'll come away with a deeper understanding of how to brew each tea. We hope this knowledge can help improve your daily tea, especially for beginners reluctant to dive into certain teas.
Boil the water, take a deep breath, and brew your tea!
Shin & Stefen