Tea Making

Using Tea Infusers

 

Spoon-style Infusers

 

1. Fill your teacup or pot with hot water.

2. Open the scoop part of the spoon infuser by pressing on the metal clasp that holds its halves together.

3. Insert loose tea leaves or herbal teas into the scoop and then clasp the two halves together again, securing them.

4. Place the spoon-style tea infuser into the cup or pot and let it sit until the tea has brewed to the desired strength.

 

Using a Tea Ball

 

1. Unscrew the two halves of the tea ball from each other. This may require aligning the pieces at a certain place in order to unscrew.

2. Fill half of the tea ball with tea leaves or dried herbs. Keep in mind that some herbs, like fenugreek, may expand when saturated with water, so don't fill the ball completely.

3. Screw the two halves of the tea ball back together. Place it in a pot or cup filled with hot water. The larger the tea ball, the larger the container it should be used in.

4. Pull the tea ball out once your tea has brewed to the desired strength. Most tea balls have a chain you can drape over the side of the pot. This makes retrieving the ball easy. If your tea ball has no chain to retrieve it, use a spoon.

 

Mesh-style Infusers

 

1. Fill a pot or cup with hot water.


2. Make sure your mesh-style or drop-in tea infuser fits the container you've chosen for brewing tea. It should sit on or in the rim of the container with the mesh basket submerged in the hot water. The larger the infuser, the larger the container it's meant for brewing in.

3. Put loose tea leaves or herbs in the infuser. Make sure the tea or herbs are completely submerged in the hot water.

4. Let the infuser sit in the hot water until the tea has brewed to the desired strength. Once the tea is ready, remove the infuser to prevent over-brewing.

 


Making a Pot of Tea

 

1. Start with fresh cold water. Good tea begins with good water.

2. Heat the water to the required temperature as per the tea being made. A guideline for temperatures is:

  • Black Teas: 100°C
  • Green Teas: 70°C - 80°C
  • Oolong Teas: 85°C - 90°C
  • Herbal Teas: 100°C
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3. Add the tea leaves to the teapot. (One spoon per cup + 1 extra spoon for the pot)

 

4. Once the water is at the correct temperature, pour it over the loose tea. Place the lid onto the teapot and allow to steep.

5. All teas have different steeping times. (Steeping is allowing the tea to sit without continuing to heat.) 
As a guideline:

  • Black Teas: 4 minutes
  • Green Teas: 3 minutes
  • Oolong Teas: 4 minutes
  • Herbal Teas: 6-8 minutes
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6. Pour the tea into cups or mugs using a tea strainer. The loose tea will settle at the bottom of the teapot.

 


Matcha Tea

 

What is Matcha?

 

Matcha is green powdered tea. It is uniquely Japanese and is the highest quality tea available in Japan. Matcha is the special tea that is used in the Japanese Way of Tea which is a traditional tea ceremony. 

Traditionally, when it is prepared, only the green powdered tea and hot water are mixed together; nothing is added to the tea. A sweet is enjoyed before drinking the matcha, which perfectly complements its delicious flavour.

 

Thick Tea / Thin Tea

 

The highest quality green tea in Japan is either gyokuro, green leaf tea, or matcha, green powdered tea. They are the same tea leaves, but differ in their processing. For matcha, there are two types: koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea). 

Thick tea is of a higher quality than thin tea. Thick tea uses the new, young tea leaves from older tea plants and thin tea comes from the new, young tea leaves from younger tea plants. 

To prepare thick tea, there is proportionally more tea and less water and they are blended into a creamy mixture, similar to a creamy soup. Thick tea is concentrated, therefore it needs to be of the highest quality for the most delicious flavour. To prepare thin tea, there is more water and less tea and they are whipped together into a light and frothy mixture.

 

Leaves are Stone Ground

 

Matcha is grown primarily in the Uji area, southwest of Kyoto. The young tea leaves are picked in early May and lightly steamed to prevent any fermentation. This allows the tea to retain its beautiful green colour. Then the tea leaves are dried. Traditionally, at this point, the leaves would be stored in chatsubo (tea jars) and allowed to season until November, at which time they can be stone-ground as needed. 

For consistency, the leaves from a variety of tea plants are blended to produce the best flavour, colour, and aroma. Before being stone-ground, the leaves are processed to obtain only the meat part of the leaf. The stems and veins are removed so that the tea will be very fine when ground. 

It takes one hour to grind somewhat less than 40g of matcha and in the end the final weight of the product is about one tenth of the original harvest. Although clippers can be used to harvest the tea leaves, the leaves for koicha (thick tea) are still picked by hand, one by one.

 

How to store Matcha

 

To protect the freshness of your matcha, always store it in the freezer in an air-tight container or plastic bag. Before using, bring the matcha that you will use to room temperature and strain it through a fine sieve.

 

Health Benefits

 

Research continues to support the many health benefits of green tea. Being very high in antioxidants, green tea helps to control free radicals, which are a natural consequence of cell metabolism in the body. Polyphenols are found in high concentrations in green tea and help in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

Catechins, which are a category of polyphenols, reduces LDL cholesterol and suppresses the chemicals in the body that trigger the constriction of blood vessels, thereby helping in the prevention of high blood pressure. Research has shown that green tea catechins also inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells and have proven to be antibacterial and antiviral.

Theanine is an amino acid that produces a tranquillising effect on the brain and is found in the leaves of green tea. It helps the brain to produce more alpha waves, which make it effective against tension and stress. It also increases mental focus and improves concentration. When drinking matcha, the actual tea leaf is consumed, which supplies the body with higher concentrations of catechins and vitamins.

 

Brewing Suggestions

 

Our brewing suggestions for preparing both usucha (thin matcha) and koicha (thick matcha) are shown below. There are other slightly different variations of preparing usucha and koicha that you may have already learnt and enjoy using. If so, please feel free to use that method instead.

 

 

Usucha Instructions

Step 1:
 

Preheat the matcha bowl and whisk with hot water by placing the whisk in the bowl. Once the bowl has been thoroughly preheated, empty out the water and dry the bowl out (preferably with a chakin, or linen tea cloth) so that it is completely dry. Set the wet whisk aside and retain 70ml of water in a separate bowl to cool.

Step 2:

Use the bamboo scoop to measure about 1½ - 2 scoops of matcha and place it into the bowl. It is also advisable to sift the matcha to avoid any clumps forming. For best results use 1½ - 2 scoops of our Uji matcha and 2 scoops of our Yame matcha.

Step 3:

Once the water from Step 1 drops to 70°C - 80°C pour it into the matcha bowl. For best results use 70°C water for our Uji matcha and 80°C water for our Yame matcha.
 

Step 4:

Take the whisk in one hand and hold the matcha bowl with your other hand and start to whisk the matcha. Whisk briskly using your wrist (not arm). Whisk in a W motion until the matcha has a thick froth with many tiny bubbles on the surface. The matcha is now frothy and ready to drink.

 

   

 

Koicha Instructions

Step 1:

Preheat the matcha bowl and whisk with hot water by placing the whisk in the bowl. Once the bowl has been thoroughly preheated, empty out the water and dry the bowl out (preferably with a chakin, or linen tea cloth) so that it is completely dry. Set the wet whisk aside, and retain 40ml of water in a separate bowl to cool.

Step 2:

Use the bamboo scoop to measure about 3-4 scoops of matcha and place it into the bowl. We highly recommend sifting the matcha prior to preparing koicha.

Step 3:

Once the water from Step 1 drops to 70°C - 80°C pour it into the matcha bowl. The water should be just enough to cover the powder. Pouring the water into the bowl in two parts (40% and then 60%) sometimes produces better results.


 

Step 4:

The idea with koicha is not to make a frothy consistency with a fast whisking action like usucha. Instead, a slower kneading action from left to right, up and down, and a calm 360-degree rotating action as shown in the image (to the left) can be used to make a thick 

 

Basic differences between Usucha and Koicha preparation

 

Usucha (thin matcha) Koicha (thick matcha)
No. of Scoops 1½ - 2 3-4
Water Volume Approx. 70ml Approx. 40ml
Water Temp 70°C - 80°C 70°C - 80°C
Type of Whisk 50-120 thin pronged. 32-48 thick pronged.
Whisking Action Rapid ‘w’ action Kneading / rotating
Consistency Thin with froth Thick and smooth with no froth

 

 


Making tea using...

 

Cast Iron Teapot

 

The cast iron teapot, or tetsubin, is a functional and beautiful pot addition to the tea drinker's utensils. Originally from Japan, the tetsubin makes for lovely teaware. However, it is imperative to take the required steps to properly use and care for your tetsubin in order to ensure that it will last you a long time.

There are two types of tetsubin for boiling water: teapots and kettles. The most common version of the tetsubin is the one intended for brewing tea. It often has an enamel interior meant to protect the flavour of the tea from the iron. The iron kettle is large and designed for heating water over a stove or a fire.

To prepare tea using a tetsubin:

1. Prepare your tetsubin for use. If your tetsubin is the hot water kettle type, heat the water to boiling and then pour it out. Do so several times to remove the coating and any dirt. If your tetsubin is a teapot, fill it with hot water and swirl it around before pouring the water out. Use a cloth to dry it inside and out to remove any dirt, debris or stains. 

2. Heat water. If your tetsubin is a kettle, fill it with water and heat over a stove until it boils.
With the tetsubin teapot, heat water until it boils in a separate tea kettle. Then, swish a bit of the boiling water in the tetsubin teapot and discard.

 

3. Add tea to the tetsubin teapot. You may put the tea in a tea basket.

4. Rinse hot water over the leaves and discard water. Often called a "flash rinse," it removes contaminants and impurities from the tea.

5. Pour hot water over the tea. Use a thermometer to gauge how hot the water should be. The standard steeping temperatures and times for common teas include:

70°C - 80°C for green tea for 3 minutes 
85°C - 90°C for 4 minutes for oolongs
100°C for 4 minutes for black teas, assuming one teaspoon of loose tea per 240ml of water.

6. Remove tea leaves after steeping or decant tea into a serving teapot.

7. Remove tea and tea leaves when finished. Rinse well with hot water and pat dry with a towel.

 

Glass Teapot

 

Hot tea has a long history of social and ceremonial use in many civilisations, and the glass teapot is a pleasant way to enhance the enjoyment of brewed tea. The glass teapot, unlike its opaque counterparts, allows the tea drinker the simple pleasures of watching dried tea leaves dancing as they release their flavour into the water, or the fascination of watching blooming tea balls unfurl their beautiful displays of colour. The glass teapot, however, is more fragile than other teapots and requires some care to ensure the safety of both the pot and the tea drinker.

To prepare tea using a glass teapot:

1. Warm the pot by adding hot water and allowing it to sit for a few minutes. While some glass teapots, especially those made of borosilicate glass, can withstand sudden changes in temperature, it is safest to warm the glass slightly before adding the boiling water.

2. Pour out the warming water and insert the filter with tea leaves already measured into it. If your glass teapot includes a filter and you are using loose tea leaves, measure the tea into the filter as directed by the tea's package; different types and blends of tea require different ratios of leaves to water for the best flavour. Place the leaves in the bottom of the filter and set the filter into the empty teapot. If your glass teapot does not include a filter, simply place the loose leaves in the bottom of the pot.

3. Pour hot water over the tea leaves in the filter, filling to the shoulders of the pot. When brewing loose tea, it is best to use water that is about 80°C for lighter teas such as white, green and oolong, and boiling water (100°C) for black and herbal teas.

4. Put the lid on the teapot and allow the tea to steep for the recommended amount of time. Light teas brew for shorter periods of time, while black and herbal teas may require up to 5 minutes to extract the full flavour from the leaves.

 

5. Pour the tea into individual cups. If your teapot does not have a strainer, you may wish to pour the tea through a tea strainer as you fill the cups. As the glass pot will be warm, protect your hands by using an insulated pad to support the bowl of the pot as you pour.

 

Ceramic Teapot

 

A ceramic teapot, with its smooth lines and beautiful decorations, makes for a nice decorative addition to the kitchen. The teapot is made carefully, with an eye for balance, an ergonomic handle, and precision in the way the tea is poured. Make a cup of tea with your ceramic teapot after supper and add a classy edge to your dinner party or birthday. Experiment with different tea flavours and brands to find your favourite brew and learn to make the perfect cup of tea.

 

To prepare tea using a ceramic teapot:

1. Examine your ceramic teapot to be sure that it has a spout that does not spill and a lid that fits firmly. The teapot should not be too delicate nor too heavy. It should have a wide bottom that allows the teapot to sit flat and it should not be too tall or too short. The inside of the spout should be smooth so that the liquid can flow and the handle should be strong and fit the hand comfortably.

 

2. Place the tea leaves of your choice in the strainer that is placed inside the ceramic teapot. Use about one tablespoon of tea leaves to one serving or cup of tea. This might depend on the type of tea. Brew the leaves loose so that the leaves are able to fully release their flavour.


3. Boil the water on the stovetop in a pan or a stovetop tea kettle. Ceramic teapots are for steeping the tea and presenting it to guests, but cannot be heated on the stovetop. For the best results, use spring or filtered water. Tap water can contain chemicals that will affect the taste. The proportion of water to tea can depend on the tea used. Check the package. Do not boil the water for too long as it reduces the oxygen in the water and might alter the taste of the tea. Heat water for white or green teas to between 70°C and 80°C. The water for black teas can be just short of boiling (100°C). Pour the hot water over the tea leaves into the teapot.

4. Steep for a minute or two and take a sip. You might have to experiment a bit to get the steeping time right, depending on the tea. (See guidelines above). When the tea tastes right to you, serve and enjoy. Experiment with water temperature, brewing time and proportions to make just the right cup of tea for you.

5. Pour the tea by tilting the ceramic teapot at a 90-degree angle. The pot is a good one if the lid stays on without having to be held down when poured.