Taiwanese Teas
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Brewing Taiwanese Teas

Brewing Tea

Here are some basics for brewing to help you get the most pleasure from your Taiwanese teas. Brewing is an opportunity for mindfulness, and ultimately an art as you develop your own style. With practice you will find what works best for you and expresses your tea self.

Water

Good tea deserves good water. Most people prefer to use filtered water for brewing.

The temperature is critical. If the water is too hot it will scald the tea, and if it is too cool you lose flavor. Generally for oolongs you want to heat the water to just under a boil (180°- 200° F). If the water does boil, let it cool some before pouring it over the leaves. Do not use water that has been boiling for a while, or heat the water more than once. This will give your teas a flat taste.

Note: The Cornelian Black is not an oolong, but a black tea, and therefore requires boiling water.

We have listed the best temperature for each tea below.



Measuring Water Temperature
You can use a thermometer, or learn to gauge the temperature by sight and sound. Here are the traditional descriptions for different temperatures:

      Shrimp Eyes: 155° - 175° F (small bubbles begin to appear) delicate white and green teas
      Crab Eyes: 175° - 180° F (medium bubbles) white, green and delicate green oolong teas
      Fish Eyes: 185° - 195° F (large bubbles and more noise) oolong teas
      String of Pearls: 195° - 205° F (chains of bubbles rising) black, pu'er, and some oolong teas
      Raging Torrent: 212° F (boiling) herbal teas



Steeping

Warm the teapot and cups. Pour heated water into the empty teapot and cups to warm them. This helps maintain the temperature of your tea. Pour off the water when the pot and cups are warm.

Add tea leaves to the warmed teapot. For 6 oz. of water use approximately 3 grams of tea (about 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of rolled dry leaves or 2 flat tablespoons of twisted dry leaves). Take a moment and smell the leaves in warmed pot.

Pour the heated water into the teapot with leaves. Experiment with pouring it quickly and more slowly and notice how this affects the flavor of the tea.

Steep for 1 minute or so. The first pour on most of these teas is approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes.

Pour off all the tea. Do not leave any water on the leaves between brews. A "share pot" can help if your cups won't hold all of the tea.

Continue with the next steeping when you are ready, noting the temperature of the water and how open the leaves are.



The Steeping Arc
Generally with oolong teas the first steep, also known as a pour, is a little longer than the second. This allows for the leaves to open. The second steeping is usually shorter, as the leaves are now open and full of flavor. Subsequent steepings vary by the type of tea, the temperature of the water, and how you like your tea.
For greener oolongs (Ta Yu Ling, Wen Shan, and Jin Xuan) the third and fourth steepings tend to take longer, up to 2 minutes.
For darker oolongs (Amber, Wild, Oriental Beauty) the third and fourth steepings may be shorter, 1 minute or so. After that you may want to increase the time to 2 minutes or even more.



To Rinse or not to Rinse
Some people prefer to rinse their dry tea leaves before the first pour to "wake up the leaves." To do this, pour a small amount of heated water over the leaves in the tea pot, wait a couple of seconds, and then pour the water off completely. In this case the rinse water is not consumed, though it may be used to warm the cups. The people we know who drink Zu Chang teas do not rinse the leaves first. "It wastes good tea," is the reason they give for not rinsing. We leave the decision to rinse or not up to you.

Temperature and Times for Zu Chang Teas

Ta Yu Ling color when brewed



Ta Yu Ling
    Water: 6 oz. at 185° - 195° F
    Tea: 1 rounded teaspoon
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., longer for 3rd and 4th pours
    Pours: 3 - 4

Wen Shan color when brewed

Wen-Shan Paochong
    Water: 6 oz. at 185° - 195° F
    Tea: 2 flat tablespoons
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., longer for 3rd and 4th pours
    Pours: 3 - 4

Jin Xuan color when brewed

Jin Xuan
    Water: 6 oz. at 185° - 195° F
    Tea: 1 rounded teaspoon
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., longer for 3rd and 4th pours
    Pours: 3 - 4

Amber Oolong color when brewed

Amber Oolong
    Water: 6 oz. at 190° - 200° F
    Tea: 1 rounded teaspoon
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., shorter for 3rd and 4th pours,
       longer on subsequent pours
    Pours: 4 or more

Wild Oolong color when brewed

Wild Oolong
    Water: 6 oz. at 190° - 200° F
    Tea: 1 rounded teaspoon
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., shorter for 3rd and 4th pours,
       longer on subsequent pours
    Pours: 4 or more

Oriental Beauty color when brewed

Oriental Beauty
    Water: 6 oz. at 190° - 200° F
    Tea: 1 rounded teaspoon
    Steep: 1 - 1.5 min., shorter for 3rd and 4th pours,
       longer on subsequent pours
    Pours: 3 or more

Cornelian Black color when brewed

Cornelian Black
    Water: 6 oz. at 200° - 210° F
    Tea: 2 flat tablespoons
    Steep: 2 - 3 min. for 1st and 2nd pours
    Pours: 2

Storing

Zu Chang teas are stored in nitrogen-filled tins which help to preserve the fresh and flavor qualities of the tea. Only open the inner seal on the tin when you are ready to use the tea. Store tins in a cool, dry place. For optimum flavor the lighter oolongs should be used 2 – 3 months from opening and the darker oolongs within 6 months. These teas will not spoil, but their flavor will lessen with time.



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