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Basic Tea Brewing Skills

The Arrangement of the Teaware

The process of arranging and placing the teaware on the tea table should be 'gentle', ' accurate' and 'steady'.

Gentle means the tea master should place the teaware in their positions with care, he should put down and take away the teaware lightly and gracefully; the hand movements of the tea master reflect his cultivated qualities as well as his affection for tea.

'Accurate' means the tea master should place each tea utensil in its precise position on the tea table, And after using a particular utensil, he should replace it in its original position in a timely fashion.

'Steady' means the hand movements of the tea master during the arrangement should be steady and smooth. The tea master should avoid shaking the utensils when holding them. He should avoid adding redundant movements and putting down and taking away the teaware should be performed at an even speed.

The Control of the Water Flow

Firstly, the tea master should know when the water is boiling and best for brewing tea by distinguishing the sound and the form of the bubbles. When the water makes a low humming sound and a number of small bubbles come up through the water from the bottom,this is the 'first boiling' Since the size of the bubbles are like crab eyes, the 'first boiling' water is also called 'crab-eye water'.

When the small bubbles disappear and contentious streams of large bubbles come up through the water this is the 'second boiling' The size of the bubbles resembles fish eyes and the 'second boiling' water is also known as 'fish-eyewater'.

When the water bubbles radically and the surface is like waves rolling on the sea this the 'third boiling'.

Crab-eye water is considered under-boiled, the mineral substances in the water haven't yet gathered at the bottom, and this may affect the flavor of the tea. The third boiling water is considered over-boiled, the water loses too much carbon dioxide from evaporation and this may harm the human body when consumed. Fish-eye water is most suitable for brewing tea; it is neither under-boiled nor over-boiled and is able to bring out the true aroma and flavor of the tea. Also, water should be boiled over a high heat rather than a low heat, the shorter time it takes to boil, the better quality the water is for brewing tea.

Secondly, the tea master should control the water temperature for brewing different types of tea. The water temperature determines the aroma and the flavor of the tea liquor. If the temperature is too low, the aqueous extract and soluble substances are not able to infuse in the water and the aroma and flavor are lacking and plain. If the temperature is too high, the tea leaves lose their freshness and tenderness, become yellow and dark, and the tea liquor is thick and bitter with a faint and plain aroma.

Also, the water temperature varies when brewing different types of tea. For tender tea leaver,the tea master should use cooler water, and for coarser tea leaves, the tea master should use hotter water, Cooler water is approximately 80℃ to 85℃ and is used to brew tender green tea and yellow tea. White tea,black tea, and tender oolong tea are best brewed with the water at around 80℃ to 90℃, And we use hotter water at 90℃ to 100℃ to brew oolong tea, blade Pu'er tea.

Thirdly, the tea master should control the water flow from the teapot. When pouring water into the teapot, whether the water falls quick or slow, thin or thick, like a stream let or waterfall, when to start and when to stop may all influence the flavor of the tea. The changes of the water flow all depends on the hand and wrist movements of the tea master. So the tea master should take time and effort in practicing pouring water and controlling the water flow.

The Ratio of Tea to Water and the Amount of Tea

The ratio of tea to water is the relationship between the amount of tea leaves we choose and the amount of water we use. The aroma and flavor of the tea varies when we apply different ratios of tea to water for brewing the tea. Usually, we apply different ratios of tea to water when brewing different types of tea. The amount of tea we use may vary according to personal preferences.

For green black tea and scented tea, the appropriate ratio of tea to water is 1:50, when we use a glass cup to brew these types of tea, the amount of tea we put in is about 3g, and the of water is about 150ml at between 80℃ to 100℃.

For oolong tea the appropriate ratio is 1:15, we often use the small-volume Gongfu tea set for brewing oolong tea, we can put in about 7g tea and 100ml boiling water into the Gongfu teapot.

For Pu'er tea, as the appropriate ratio of tea to water is 1:20, if we use the covered bowl, we can put about 5g tea and 100ml water at 90℃ to 100℃. If we use the purple-clay teapot we cm put 10g tea and 200ml water or 8g tea and 160ml water.

Steeping Time

When the ratio tea to water and the water temperature are fixed, the longer the tea is steeped in the teapot, the deeper the color of the tea liquor, and the heavier the flavor. If the steeping time is too long,the tea polyphony and the aromatic compounds in the tea would oxidize, the color of the tea liquor would be yellow and dark, the aroma would be low, and the flavor would be too thick and heavy, bitter and astringent. The vitamins and amino acid would also oxidize during the steeping which may affect the nutritive value of the tea liquor. If the stepping time is too short the aqueous extracts will not have infused in the water, so the flavor win be weak and the nutritive value of the tea liquor low.

Therefore, in order to have a good brew, we recommend to steep green tea and black tea for about 3 minutes. For oolong and Pu'er tea, the steeping time depends on the amount of tea we use, the ratio of tea to water. For example, the greater amount of tea leaves, the shorter the steeping time. Besides, the steeping time of tender tea should be shorter than coarse tea leaves. If we tea decocting method instead of the tea brewing method, such as we decoct aged Pu'er tea, then the appropriate decocting time would be 10 minutes or more.

Brewing Frequency

How many times we can brew a particular tea varies according to the type of tea we use. For green and black tea the aqueous extracts infuse in the water quickly, and after three brews their flavors become very light. Oolong and Puer tea can be brewed many times, normally from 10 to 15, and aged Puer tea can be brewed up to 20 times. Usually the microelements in tea come out and infuse the water after several brews. It should be noted that the more times the tea is brewed the lighter the tea liquor becomes and will contain considerably less nutrition. If tea is brewed too many times it may even harm the body.

Movement

During the process of brewing tea, the tea master should maintain good body posture and movement. He should avoid tilting his head and shoulders or holding his elbows too high. His eyes should follow his hand movements and his hand movements should come from the wrist, not the arm. The tea master should use Ms left and right hands alternatively and avoid using only one hand or crossing hands when using the utensils.

Usually, the tea master raises his arm to pour water into the teapot from high above so that the tea leaves in the Chinese teapot are roused, contacting fully with the water, letting the aqueous extracts come out more quickly. When pouring brewed tea we lower our arm to pour so that the brew doesn't travel too far to the tea cup and won't be in contact with the air too long so the temperature, aroma and the freshness of the brew can be maintained.