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The art of brewing tea

Tea brewing temperature is the most important aspect to the ultimate tea. Water that is too hot can scald the tea and if it’s not hot enough, it will produce weak tea. Just below boiling point is the optimal – where bubbles form at the bottom of the kettle. Green tea brewing temperature is slightly lower, just as the water begins to steam, as it is with other more delicate teas like white tea. Black tea, pu-erh and herbal teas should be prepared at full boiling point.

Premium loose-leaf teas are made from whole, unbroken leaves that contain all the essential oils, whereas tea bags contain smaller pieces of tea and ‘tea dust’ that may compromise the flavour of the tea. With loose-leaf teas, which absorb water and expand, one can improve the strength of the tea by simply adding more tea.

Bags usually contain 1-3g of tea. Steep time is the second most important element to making a good cup of tea. Loose-leaf tea is best steeped in a teapot or infuser which allows the tea to become richer in flavour. Check the merchant packaging details as teas can be brewed for one to five minutes, or more. Teas made from dried flowers and herbs can be brewed for up to 15 minutes to enjoy the full flavour.

Connoisseurs’ guide: tea brewing temperature chart

1 level tsp Black tea 100°C (212 F) 3-5 minutes

1 level tsp Green tea 79.4 - 82.2°C (175-180 F) 1-2 minutes

2 level tsp White tea 79.4 - 82.2°C (175-180 F) 2-3 minutes

1 level tsp Oolong 90.5°C (195 F) 2-3 minutes

1 heaped tsp Pu-erh tea 100°C (212 F) 5 minutes

1 heaped tsp Herbal 100°C (212 F) 5-10 minutes

1 level tsp Rooibos 100°C (212 F) 5-10 minutes

1 tsp = 5ml per 150-180ml (small tea cup)