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Using Tea 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.
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:
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:
6. . Pour the tea into cups or mugs using a tea strainer. The loose tea will settle at the bottom of the teapot.
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.
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.
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.
Basic differences between Usucha and Koicha preparation...
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:
3. Add tea to the tetsubin teapot. You may put the tea in a tea basket.
70°C - 80°C for green tea for 3 minutes
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:
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.
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:
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.