Thursday, December 23, 2010

When Steep Turns to Stew (Part One)

Tea preparation is both art and science because timing and temperature are critical factors that affect the results. Every tea, i.e. pu-erh, black (red), oolong, yellow, white, and green, has a temperature range and steeping time that combined offers an ideal flavor profile. On the other hand, there are few things more tragic than a delicately fragrant Jasmine Pearl green tea gone wrong. This signals a less than ideal outcome and our taste buds remember the experience.

Some Like It Hot - Others Do Not

In order to make a good cup of tea, the water must be hot enough to open the tea leaves yet not hot enough to destroy the leaves themselves. Achieving this balance takes practice.

It was a great day that I learned that one should not allow water to come to a full boil when making green tea. Green tea leaves are not oxidized during its manufacturing process. The freshly picked leaves are:
• Steamed or pan-fried
• Rolled and shaped
• Dried until 2-3% water content remains

What does that mean? It means that water does not have to boiling hot for the leaves to open. The green leaves are willing to open and to release their flavor at a lower temperature.

Taste the Difference

For tea, one temperature does not fit all so please read the suggested time and temperature guides printed on the tea's packaging. However, for those who choose to ignore the difference water temperature makes, there are bitter consequences.

Not very long ago, a colleague issued me a challenge equivalent to a pistol duel at dawn: attend a coffee tasting. I met his challenge, attended the event, and demonstrated to coffee merchants how to improve their tea. True, I didn't go into the establishment to gather new tea converts but... tea draws followers.

Teas Worth a Sip

At your request, here are some teas and/or tisanes to try and to buy:
• Thé des Sables (Le Palais des Thés, @LePalaisdesThes) - Dragonwell green tea blended with Damas rose, yellow peach, mango and citrus fruits

• 3 Essence of Beauty (Fang's Leaves & Petals, @fangtea) - a fragrant, relaxing tisane of rose, jasmine and marigold/calendula

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Greene Ave,Brooklyn,United States


  1. Wonderful and articulate reading!!

  2. Thank you for being such a faithful reader. I so appreciate it.