Over the past winter I’ve become somewhat of a tea connoisseur, partly due to the fact that I live next to a nice tea shop that has over 50 different kinds of loose leaf tea for purchase. I’ve dived into the world of tea making and would like to share a basic method for making tea that will be vastly superior to any prepared tea you can buy in a cafe.
What Is Tea?
All non-herbal and non-fruit teas come from the exact same plant, Camellia sinensis. The large variation that exists between light and dark teas come from where the tea leaves were grown, when and how they were picked, and how they were processed using various mechanisms of wilting, panning, bruising, rolling, heating, baking, and drying. Considering the hundreds of different kinds of tea out there, the versatility of the tea plant to produce various tastes and aromas is astounding. EachÂ tea requires a specific brewing method to bring out the best of itsÂ individual character.
Many teas are also location specific, not unlike how “champagne” can only be used to describe fermented wine from a certain region in France. Darjeeling tea can only be from India while a Ceylon tea is always from Sri Lanka.
The Superiority Of Loose Leaf Tea
Once tea leaves are finished processing and dried on a mat, workers scoop up the leaves to be packaged for sale in loose leaf collections. After the biggest leaves are scooped, the leftover bits remaining are then used for bagged teas, since they can’t be sold in loose leaf form. In other words, the tea that goes in bagged tea is broken pieces that are like what you’d find at the bottom of a potato chip bag.
Another problem with bagged teas is a lack of wide surface area from the tea bits, causing the brewing process to be fast and violent, extracting only the notes of the tea but notÂ the body. This is why tea from bags can often be very thin, while loose leaf gives a denser liquid that can sometimes approach the consistency of milk.
To make a proper pot of tea, you will need some basic equipment, the most essential of which is not even a pot. You must get a scale and a timer. Because each tea comes at a different weight density, you will not make consistent pots if you use a volume-based measuring tool such as a spoon. A timer is also important, since a seemingly trivial error of one extra minute of brewing can have a drastic effect on the final result.
Make sure to grab a scale with reading that goes to the tenth of a gram. Here is the scale I use:
Smart Weigh DBL1KG ($13.99)
And here is my timer:
The reason you technically don’t need a pot is that you can pour hot water into any container with the tea leaves and then use a common kitchen strainer to transfer the liquid to another container. That usually involves extra work and cleaning, but it won’t impact the taste greatly.
When you’re ready to buy a pot, understand that the biggest flaw in pot design is with the infuser, the small container with tiny holes that goes insideÂ the teapot. It holds the tea leaves during brewing and can be quickly removed without having to manually strain the liquid. The most common problems I’ve seen include a narrow infuser that offers stingy contact between the water and tea or an infuser with too few holes. We need a teapot that offers the most uninhibited amount of raw contact during brewing. After experimenting with several pots with shamefully inferior designs, I have found a Japanese company that does it right: Hario.Â Here’s the pot I use:
Hario Chacha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot
Look at how the infuser is almost as large as the pot itself, making it ideal to brew tea.
You’ll also need a kettle of some sort to heat water. Many delicate teas require water temperatures that are under boiling temperature (80 degrees Celsius), especially white and green teas, so a thermometer would helpÂ when bringing down the temperature in the case you’re using a basic stove-top kettle.
A better option is to buy an electric kettle that can heat water to a designated temperature, especially in the range from 80-100 C (they are called “variable temperature kettles”). The kettle I use, which is sold on the European market,Â allows me to dial in to the precise temperature of 80 or 90 degrees. Only black teas are suitable for a boiling temperature of 100 degrees.
Bosch Styline Collection Kettle
Lastly, a teapot warmer is recommended. It has space for a tea light to keep your pot warm as you drink.
I use bottled water when brewing teas, because water from the tap has minerals that can greatly affect lighter teas, especially white teas. The less sugar you are using with your tea, the more important the quality of your water. Since white and green teas are not usually taken with sugar, you need to use bottled water or else the harshness of your tap will make it difficult for you to identify the true taste. If your water source is really bad, you may not be able to pick up on any taste at all, and you’ll naturally gravitate towards inferior teas that have “fruit” in them.
When I bring a girl over to my apartment for tea, they always gravitate towards the fruity teas because they have not yet developed the proper tea palate to appreciate traditional tea. I actually have two cheap fruit teas on hand at all times for this very purpose.
Default Brewing Technique
If I’m given a tea completely blind, without knowing specific instructions on how to brew it, I follow this formula:
- 0.75 grams of tea per 100 ml of water (one cup of water is 237 ml)
- 3 minutes brewing time
- 90 degrees water temperature
I make pots of tea using 500 ml of water (roughly two cups), so I measure out 3.75 grams of tea for each pot (5 x 0.75 g).
Whether the tea is white, green, or black, I will brew the first pot using this formula, and then make adjustments to suit my taste and the unique character of the tea. If the tea was too light, I increase the brewing time up to 5 minutes. If at 5 minutes it’s still too light, I increase the tea weight. If the tea is too bitter, I decrease the brewing time gradually to 2 minutes, and if that’s not enough, I start to decrease the weight. The formula I use is such that I can brew a second pot with the same leaves, and have it come out nearly as good as the first if I roughly double the brewing time.
When you are first starting off, especially with green tea, you won’t know how it “should” taste like, but I can give you the most important guideline you need to understand: it shouldn’t taste bitter. There should be no astringent aftertaste from your green and white teas, meaning you should have zero urge to reach for sugar. If there is even the slightest of bitter taste, you brewed too long. Only earthy or floral notes should be present.
The average man on the street who drinks green tea is actually drinking bitter junk. What’s amazing to me is that normal people actually leave the tea bag in as they drink, meaning they are brewing the tea for well over 10 minutes. This is insanity! I have been on dates with girls all over the world who do this, and recently I’ve been tryingÂ my best to educate them on proper tea drinking, but they are stubbornly resistant to changing their incorrect habits. Yes, the odds you will become a tea snob are great when you start brewing at home.
Dark teas are going to be more bitter by default, but it should still be rather drinkable without sugar. Only when I want something with a strong caffeine content will I go overboard with the brewing time and balance out the bitterness with a sugar cube.
Brewing A Pot With Pictures
Below is a pictorial walk-through of making a pot of Ceylon Earl Grey tea. I am doing a lighter variant with a brewing time of only 2 minutes from a tea weight of 0.5 grams per 100 ml of water (2.5 grams total).
1. Prepare your equipment
My teawarmer, teapot, and teacup
2. Heat water to necessary temperature
I dial in my kettle to 100 degrees.
3. Weigh the tea leaves in infuser
4. Place the infuser inside tea pot and pour in hot water
I like to start the pour slow to soak the leaves and then finish vigorouslyÂ to create a nice swirl.
5. Use your timer to brew for a designated time
6. Remove the infuser and place teapot on teawarmer
You can leave the tea leaves in your infuser in case you want to brew a second pot. Note below how much larger the tea leaves are compared to what you would find in a tea bag.
7. Pour tea into teacup
Bring the liquid to your lips and allow it to enter your mouth. Taste and then swallow.
Here are some additional pictures from my collection:
Chinese genmaicha,Â a green tea with roasted rice. It releasesÂ a brilliant aroma afterÂ brewing.
Japanese sencha, a classicly strong green tea
Maintaining Tea Records
I have a note card for each tea that I brew so that I know what the best brewing formula is. I tape the paper to the tea container so it’s available when I need to reference it.
When you have over 15 teas in your collection, as I do, it becomes critical to document your brewing techniques. For some teas, the default brewing formula will work great, but other teas need extensive tinkering. Once you nail down the best formula, you are set for the season on that particular tea lot.
All tea snobbery aside, there is no “wrong” way to make tea as long as you enjoy it. What’s most important is developing a consistent method so you get a good pot every time you brew, instead of a more random result that you get from cafes that don’t even use a scale when measuring out loose leaf tea.
If you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest much in equipment, buy a basic strainer or tea basket and use measuring spoons to making an acceptable cup of tea that won’t win any worldwide tea competitions.
If you’re anything like me, you will start investing more resources into proper brewing in order to make goldenÂ cups of tea that are enjoyable to drink and good for your health when compared to sugary beverages.
Tea for me has become a sort of addiction in that if you put me anywhere near a tea shop, I lose all self-control and buy several teas even though I have a bountiful supply back at home. Every afternoon that I wake up is enjoyable as I examine my cabinet and decide on which tea I want to start the day with. It’s a cheap passion that gives me great sensual pleasure, and I hope that you also can learn how to enjoy the art of teamaking.
Read Next:Â What Happened When I Quit Caffeine For A Month
Added to what you’ve written, you may be interested in a short article by George Orwell on, “A Nice Cup of Tea”
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I have a similar setup. I use painted cast iron Japanese tea kettles for steeping after I boil my water in a regular kettle.
No one laugh at the seemingly compulsive way Roosh has his tea setup. One major goal is to not burn the tea leaves, which is very easy to do by steeping them in water that is too hot. For instance, white buds, which are just very young green tea leaves, are extremely delicate and are all too easy to burn. Leaving the leaves in the water too long will also ruin the taste. Like coffee, some types of leaves are meant to be drunk with a “light roast,” and not a “deep dark roast.” Steep a cup of green tea leaves for 2 minutes, drink it. Now steep another cup of green for 10 minutes and drink it. The first cup of heaven will make the second cup taste like hell
You can also make your own flavors-try some rooibus(impossible to burn or over steep), grown in the Cederberg mountains in South Africa, and add a few little chunks of caramel or a bit of caramel syrup to it. Experiment.
If anyone out there is interested in this stuff, but wants to put little effort in manually doing everything themselves, a whopping $250 will get that job done. Breville sells a tea maker that does all the work for you. Their products seem to be of high quality, as I have a frother of theirs that so far is standing the test of time
Very inspiring article, I love tea and have one each afternoon, but from a tea bag, I will start checking out tea stores, there is popular chain in Montreal you may want to check out when you some here https://www.davidstea.com/
Very useful, as usual. Thanks
Dr Oz has a similar technique ; )
It’s important to bear in mind that green teas do not keep very well. If you keep fifteen different teas, unless you somehow are able to buy very small quantities, they will be going stale. I used to have a lot of different teas, but I have narrowed down to a few which I buy frequently and drink fresh.
Black teas keep much better; that’s why they’re what we have traditionally drunk in the West. Storage conditions are very important for both-those airtight jars you pictured are absolutely essential.
I used to be one of those fools drinking bitter green tea from bags until I took the easy way out and purchased an Australian masterpiece that enables me to enjoy a great cup of tea every morning before rushing off to work hassle free. I know tea making is an art and I’m behaving like a typical American by purchasing technology to make things easier but I’ve made piece with this because I love this artifact. My favorite is white tea, its health benefits are many and it makes my skin glow so tell your women to drink it.
my women have been drinking “white tea” for ages. Yes, there are lots of benefits but I don’t recommend it to men lest you be a bum bandit.
reminds me of a tea-related college story: asian international student on my dorm-floor had high quality loose-leaf tea. resident-halls director (ie. dorm informant) does room checks during winter break, finds teas, confiscates them all as ‘drugs,’ tries to have student thrown-out. student demonstrates that ‘drugs’ are actually tea. student eventually not thrown-out (surprisingly). no punishment for feminist resident-halls director (unsurprisingly).
I’m definitely one of those teabaggers (lol) with my green tea. Thank you for this awesome guide – I’ll grab a couple of those off amazon with your affiliate link this weekend!
Reading this article while cracking open and chugging down a Monster energy drink.
I unthinkingly slug one of these down my gullet most mornings.
I sicken myself and will leave with my family to S. America one day.
To a slower, more thoughtful pace of life…
I like using a water boiler like the one shown below.
Damn, this is some serious tea work. I’ve tried to get into tea over the years, but I never connected with the drink. I’m a coffee devotee…
But it’s good to read about this. People’s tastes change, and maybe someday I’ll get into this.
The phyto-estrogens in the hops in beer increase estrogen. Keep drinking beer and you might turn into a woman.
Also I would add that I do like green tea with some bitterness to it, but not too much.
On thing that interested me is that in China I notice that they add another step at the beginning. They rinse the tea leaves briefly in hot water and then discard that batch.
I have heard this is to clean the leaves from pesticides, but I also think this is too remove some of the bitterness.
Best tea I have ever had was using this method.
Tea delivers huge loads of fluoride. Enough that I avoid having more than a couple cups a day.
The levels of fluoride in tea and tap water are reportedly differently (PPM vs mg per liter) but it appears that the natural antioxidants in the tea help counteract the effects of the fluoride. Also, if you are filtering out fluoride in the tap, the amounts leaching out of the tea are presumably minimal, unless one drinks nothing but tea.
The calcium fluoride in tea is nothing like the industrial byproduct hexafluorosilicic acid that is used to fortify public water in the States and a few other nations.
You’re better off being picky about your water source and the quality and tannin content of the tea you select.
I like how you avoid sugar in order to savor the honesty of the tea. If I add sweetener, I add a little quality honey (anything from Himalayan to Munaka) in order to make the natural flavor pop; though honey can color the taste, it is still a taste of the floral variety. Plus, honey essentially becomes easily stored energy in the liver. This is an added bonus during long stretches of mental productivity.
I’ve never really gotten seriously into making loose leaf tea but brew them with tea bags once in a while. Learned some good takeaways from this article though, thanks.
I sense there’s an opportunity for a Tea-Making Ebook for your next project.
Any of you guys ever try fermented tea called pu-erh?
Man you’re devoted. How do you travel with all this junk that you have? Tea equipment, solar wake up equipment, cooking equipment… You must have one hell of a backpack haha
I felt weirded-out reading the article. Nice to see another one of your ammenities, Roosh. Now back to my peasant hobbies… 🙂
Nice post. I discovered the real tea in San Francisco about 10 years ago, and learned a lot from the guys at Red Blossom in Chinatown (very recommended). Everything you wrote here is what they teached me. Although there are many ways of making tea, my favorite is the chinese way, which is to drink as a spirit, in small cups and frequently, leaves should last between 3 and 5 brews (depends on the quality of the tea) increasing of course the amount of brewing time. The real character of the Tea is found between the second and third brews.
There is a lot of philosophy associated with tea rituals also and it would make for a whole new post.
nice article. I will refer back to this anytime I want to make my own tea. What do you think about yerba mate? Would the process of brewing yerba mate be similar to brewing the tea from this article?
It takes both more weight and a longer brewing time (You can try 1-1.5 grams per 100ml and brew for 5 minutes). The Argentine style of brewing is quite strong and the result is highly bitter. I think you’d have to accept the bitterness to it, unlike with green tea.
This is the sort of Roosh article that reminds me: I may recommend his writings to my friends, but I wouldn’t invite him to my house; someone might think I was gay.
Totally unnecessary. Just boil water and wait 5 minutes before pouring. Eyeball how much tea u need and add with a spoon.
That’s. all. you. need. to. do.
“The researchers point out that US experts recommend 4mg of fluoride daily for adults, with an â€œupper tolerable intakeâ€ of 10mg daily. They calculate that an adult consuming one litre of economy tea daily, containing 6mg per litre of fluoride, would be getting 75-120% of the recommended fluoride allowance. Economy teas may use the older leaves on the tea plant, which may contain higher levels of fluoride, they suggest.
The fluoride intake of people drinking cheap tea may exceed recommended levels, they argue. All tea products should be considered as a source of fluoride and supermarkets and manufacturers of tea should consider stating fluoride concentrations on food packaging.:
Fluoride accumulates in tea leaves, I know a lot of foolish people who drink a litre and a half of green tea a day thinking they are super-healthy. FOOLS
it’s too good to be true because it is. Not sure if taking green tea extract avoids the fluoride, but the healthy part of tea is called “catechins” which are anti-oxidants
Best to keep those tea mixtures in dark coloured glass containers. Light hitting the teas be they herbal or not shortens the life of what you have.
I keep them in a dark cabinet.
I’ve learned as a herbalist. That one needs to keep teas. Both from the tea bush, As well as herbal teas in dark jars. Every time you open the cabinet to get after one container. You have shorten the usability of the other teas as well.
This also holds true for all herbals also used in medicine.
Sounds like a science. I once had some kind of vanilla tea that was very enjoyable. If I could remember exactly what it was, I would tea again.
I don’t see how the difference between 3 and 4 min brewing time can affect the taste so much. Can you taste the difference? Please enlighten me. It’s just herb particles mixed with water.
A one-minute brewing time difference from 3 minutes is a 33% difference. How can it not cause a big change in taste?
I always brewed as long as possible, and kept the tea bag in my mug, thinking this would only make a stronger, more potent tea. Of course it always ended up bitter. Thanks for the advice. Also an easy way to brew with less cleanup is to use something like:
which sits right in your mug, so there is no pot to clean. Of course you can only brew one cup at a time this way.
do some google image searching on sous-vides eggs. It’s amazing what 1-2 degrees difference in cooking temperature can do to an egg.
Cold green tea and barley tea are the go-to drinks for everyone in Japan. Men, women, kids. It took me a while to get used to it but as long as it is around I will choose it over soft drinks, juices or flavoured milks. So healthy, so cheap and refreshing. If Australia started drinking the stuff instead of soft drink, I guarantee that the country would be 100 million kilograms lighter this time next year. Japanese ladies drink a lot of tea and not alcohol which may explain why they aren’t aggressive, bad-skinned flab-os. Do yourself a favour, make a bottle of green tea (about 20 cents) and drink it through the day rather than reach for a bottle of cola ($3.50??), drop weight and save money.
One of my favorite teas is lapsang souchong. It’s very smoky and very strong. Many people are immediately turned off by the smell even before brewing. Nobody is wishy-washy on lapsang souchong, you either love it or hate it. But it’s definitely one worth trying if you like tea.
(You must keep it in a tightly sealed container, otherwise ALL of your tea will taste like lapsang souchong.)
When illness strikes, green tea with honey and fresh lemon is one of the best things in the world. Drop off a thermos of that and your sworn enemy will become your best ally.
The parents of my students sometimes give me gifts and a common one is tea. Here is some more tea porn.
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Fuck, I’ve been meaning to ask you about tea!!!
This is beautiful!
No more tea bags for me!
Damn Roosh. Nice job dissecting the perfect tea experience. Thanks for the insight.
The last time someone showed me his scale and referred to the purity of his product … well, let’s just say that he probably was the danger after all. 🙂
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Don’t use glass containers to store tea. The light hurts it and diminishes the flavor over time.
Also, look into gong fu tea methods, especially for oolongs and pu er teas. You’ll experience flavors that were otherwise nonexistent in the same leaves.
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Great article! I just ordered all the equipment from Amazon and I’m looking forward to exploring a new hobby.
You to funny
If we all had the luxury of sleeping all day and only waking up in the afternoon to start your day, then we too would also develop great taste buds and afford to be connesuiers of Tea
Have recently been getting into Yunnan lately. There is also a caffeine free tea that can be drunk well with milk from South Africa called Rooibos, worth a try.. Small red needles. Slight natural sweetness.
Who cares about this that much? I didn’t even read it and you wasted your time (I don’t believe writing but rather) compiling this (or probably completely stolen)