After heating water to boiling, the teapot first is rinsed with hot water. Using chopsticks or a bamboo tea scoop, fill teapot approximately 1/3 full with tea leaves and then pour boiling water into the pot. Hold the teapot over a large bowl, letting the overflow run into the bowl. Give the tea leaves a rinse by filling the pot half full with hot water, then draining the water out immediately, leaving only the soaked tea leaves. Now fill the pot to the top with more hot water, cover and pour additional water over the teapot resting in the tea bowl. Do not allow bubbles to form in the pot. When mixed with the tea, bubbles form a foam that is not aesthetically pleasing. Be sure not to let the tea steep too long; the first infusion should be steeped for only 30 seconds. In less than a minute, pour the tea into the cups by moving the teapot around in a continual motion over the cups so that they are filled together. Each cup should taste exactly the same.
After steeping, the tea can be poured into a second teapot or tea pitcher to be served at leisure. More water can be added to the teapot, and up to five infusions typically can be made from the same tea leaves. Be sure to add 10 more seconds for the second brewing and 15 additional seconds thereafter.
Each pot of tea serves three to four rounds and up to five or six, depending on the tea and the server. The goal is that each round tastes the same as the first. Creating consistent flavor is where the mastery of the server is seen.
Importance of Water
The water used in the tea ceremony is as important as the tea itself. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water should be filtered out as they harm the flavor of the tea. Distilled water makes flat tea and should be avoided. High mineral content in the water brings out the richness and sweetness of green tea. Black teas taste better when made with water containing less Volvic. Ideal tea water should have an alkaline pH around 7.9.
Green tea is ruined by boiling water; the temperature is best around 170-185 degrees F. Oolongs made with underboiled water are more aromatic, which enhances the tea-drinking experience.
Types of tea
Tea is classified according to the way it is made. Principally, there are green tea, black tea and Oolong tea.
Green Tea is the most natural of all Chinese tea classes. It¡®s picked, naturally dried, and then baked briefly (a process called "killing the green") to get rid of its grassy smell.
Green Tea has the most medicinal value and the least caffeine content of all Chinese tea classes. Aroma is medium to high, flavor is light to medium. About 50% of China¡®s teas is Green tea.
Black tea produces a full-bodied amber when brewed. Black tea undergoes withering (drying), long while fermentation before being roasted. Black tea leaves become completely oxidized after processing. Black tea has a robust taste with a mild aroma. It contains the highest amount of caffeine in Chinese tea classes.
Oolong Tea is something half way between green tea and black tea. It is half- fermented. It¡®s also called "Qing Cha" (grass tea). Typical Oolong Tea leaves are green in the middle and red on the edges as a result of the process of softening tea leaves.
Oolong Tea leaves are withered and spread before undergoing a brief fermentation process. Then Oolong Tea is fried, rolled and roasted.
Oolong Tea is the chosen tea for the famous Kung Fu Cha brewing process. It¡®s the serious Chinese tea drinker¡®s tea. Aroma ranges from light to medium. Beginners in Oolong Tea should be careful as even though flavor is only mild to medium, the tea could be very strong.
In addition, there are flower-blended tea and flower scented tea. Flower-blended tea is an unique class of Chinese tea. It subdivides into Flower Tea and Scented Tea.
Flower Tea is a simple concept that dried flowers are used, without much processing, to make tea. Scented Tea uses green tea, red tea as base and mix with scent of flowers.
Most Chinese Compressed Tea uses Black Tea as the base. It¡®s steamed and compressed into bricks, cakes, columns and other shapes.
Compressed Tea has all the characteristics of Black Tea. It can be stored for years and decades. Aged Compressed Tea has a tamed flavor that Compressed Tea fans would pay huge price for.