How to brew loose leaf tea

Private tea room in Wuyishan

Brewing tea is simple. Don't overthink it! You can brew using a gaiwan, a teapot, or an infuser. The goal is to extract compounds from the leaf into water. Simply pour water over your leaves, steep, and decant.
I suggest trying the gongfu brewing method. It uses a higher leaf-to-water ratio across multiple infusions, letting you fully enjoy the tea's nuanced aesthetics, aromas, and flavors. However, you can also brew more casually. Steep the tea leaves for about 2-3 minutes using roughly 1 gram of tea for every 50-60 mL of water for 1-2 infusions. I often do this when drinking from a single large mug.

Here are my basic recommendations for brewing gongfu style. Use these as a starting point and adjust to your taste.

Leaf to water ratio

1 gram of tea for every ~20-25 mL of water. A higher leaf ratio means a more concentrated extraction. You can balance this by shortening infusion times or lowering the water temperature to prevent over-extraction.
If drinking alone, a small gaiwan or teapot of 80 to 100 mL is ideal. With 4-5 grams of tea, expect to drink about 500 mL to over 1 liter across multiple infusions, depending on the tea type, varietal, and quality.

Temperature of water

The temperature depends on the tea's type, varietal, and quality. High-quality teas often demand 100°C water. Lower quality teas may need lower temperatures to hide undesirable tastes.
    Green White Yellow  Wulong Red Puer
    80C  85-100C 85C 95-100C 95-100C 95-100C

    Infusion time

    With gongfu brewing's high leaf-to-water ratio, infusion times are shorter. The first few infusions should last about 10 seconds. If you use more than 1 gram per 20 mL of water, start decanting immediately after pouring. Increase each subsequent infusion by 5-10 seconds.

    Quality of water

    Water quality is crucial, as tea is mostly water. Avoid distilled or RO water, as it makes tea taste flat. Hard water and chlorinated tap water can also impair taste. Use spring or filtered, soft tap water for the best results.

      Other factors like the vessel's shape and material, the environment, and even your company can influence your tasting experience. Brewing tea can be as simple or complex as you desire.

      Tea culture is about discovery, experimentation, and sharing. Enjoy!