How to brew loose leaf green tea – Excerpts from the Fragrant Leaf and the Kitchn

For many years, I’ve been following research about the health benefits of green tea. I love the taste of green tea – especially now that I’ve learned to brew it properly.

I have an interest in evidence. Evidence is of interest to some people not to others. Years ago, evidence meant nothing to me. The evidence in favour of green tea is strong, but I only recently got around to brewing green tea every day.

I’m aware that when it comes to persuading people about any topic, stories not strongly based on evidence, but which have a strong emotional appeal, are likely to get a much better response that stories based on dry evidence. I’m in the minority who would be persuaded by the dry (that is, without a strong emotional wallop) evidence.

The health benefits of chocolate and wine, which were widely publicized in previous times, are no longer supported by the available evidence. However, the evidence in favour of the health benefits of green tea remain strong.

While I’m on the topic of evidence: The question of whether a variable-height desk is going to benefit your health remains an open one.

To my knowledge, there is no strong evidence at this point that such desks are better for your health than a sit-down desk. For quite some time, the evidence that was available underlined that the deleterious effects of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day could not be ameliorated by getting some exercise.

However, more recent evidence suggests that an hour a day of strenuous exercise will counter the effects of sitting at a desk all day.

I use a sit-down desk for much of my work but I get up from my desk and walk around a lot, never sitting still for extended periods. Most days I also get about an hour of fairly strenuous exercise.

How to brew green tea

I’ve recently begun to drink green tea pretty well every day and have learned some things about how to brew it.

Two good posts on the topic of how to brew loose leaf green tea are:

Green Tea Brewing Tips – at thefragrantleaf.com

How to Brew Loose Leaf Green Tea – at thekitchn.com

Below are excerpts from each of the above-noted websites. I like the precision regarding water temperatures in the first excerpt. Both passages are of much value.

1. Excerpt from thefragrantleaf.com

Why is water temperature important?

Water temperature is a critical factor in bringing out the best qualities of green tea. If the water temperature is too hot, the tea will be too bitter and much of its delicate aroma will be lost; if the water temperature is too cool, the full flavor contained in the leaves will not be extracted.

Why are green teas better at lower temperature?

A number of substances in the leaf contribute to the flavor and aroma of green tea. The overall flavor and sweetness of green tea is determined by a variety of amino acids and natural sugars. Bitterness and astringency are contributed by polyphenols (“tannins”). Amino acids dissolve at 140°F (60 °C) while tannins dissolve at 176°F (80°C). Therefore, brewing green tea at lower temperatures will ensure that its sweet and complex flavors will not be overpowered by the bitter-tasting flavors.

What is the right temperature for green teas?

As a general guideline, green teas taste best when brewed at temperatures between 140°F – 185°F. The grade of the tea and the time of its harvest will also influence the appropriate steeping temperature. Green teas picked earlier in the spring will benefit from lower temperature brewing due to their overall higher levels of amino acids.

Here’s an example of how one might adjust the temperature for brewing Japanese green teas. Gyokuro, one of the highest grades, is best brewed at 122°F – 140°F (50°C – 60°C). Spring-picked Sencha tastes best at 160°F – 170°F (70°C – 80°C). Summer-harvested Bancha and Genmaicha will exhibit their best flavor with a short infusion at higher temperatures of 170°F – 185°F (80°C – 90°C).

How do I achieve the right temperature?

The most accurate way is to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water in the kettle. One approach is to heat the water in your kettle to the desired temperature and then pour it into your teapot. Another approach is to heat the water to boiling and then let it cool down a bit before pouring into your teapot.

To cool down the water quickly we recommend the following methods:

  • Pour water from the kettle into a Pyrex glass cup and let sit 2 – 3 minutes to reach 160°F – 170°F or 5 minutes to reach 140°F – 150°F. Then pour into your teapot and brew for the desired length of time. You may need to adjust the sitting time based on the size of your Pyrex cup and the amount of water. Our example uses 6 oz of water in a 1-cup Pyrex.
  • Pour water from the kettle into a cool glass or ceramic cup and pour back and forth between cups until the desired temperature is reached. Then pour into your teapot and brew.

How long should I steep green tea?

Green tea does not require much time. Too long a steeping time will result in more bitterness and a less balanced flavor. We recommend experimenting with a range of 1 – 3 minutes. Japanese green teas generally taste best at 1 – 2 minutes while Chinese green teas seem to prefer 2 – 3 minutes (the smaller leaves of Japanese teas will extract faster than the generally larger leaves of Chinese teas). Steeping time should be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped.

[End of excerpt] 

2. Excerpt from thekitchn.com

While black tea and green tea have some obvious things in common, they need to be brewed in significantly different ways. Green tea is much less robust than black tea, requiring lower water temperatures and less brewing time. It has a short window in which its fullest flavor profile can be enjoyed, so it needs to be brewed and drunk immediately.

1. Choose your tea. Quality loose leaf green tea is widely available these days but it is also a very perishable product, so be sure to buy from a reputable seller. The tea should be fresh and come in an air-tight container that ideally can be resealed. Air is an enemy of green tea as it causes oxidation.

2. Choose your pot and cup. Green tea is best when the entire batch is drunk right away. So choose a pot and a cup appropriate to how many people you are serving. The pot should be large enough that the leaves can fully expand and steep in the water. (See note below.) Cups for green tea tend to be smaller as you want to sip the tea somewhat quickly before it cools too much and the flavor changes.

3. Time and temperature. Your tea should come with specific brewing instructions but in general green tea uses 180-190°F (82-89C) water and is brewed for no more than 3 minutes. When you are starting out, an accurate thermometer is helpful for water temperature, but with time you will be able to tell by feel.

4. Water. Some people insist on using distilled or bottled water. I don’t bother (San Francisco water is pretty good) but you may want to do this if your water has a strong taste.

5. Heat your water. Never brew green tea with boiling water! The method below does start with boiling water, but allows for it to cool.

6. Gather some tea treats, if having. It is traditional to serve a small, very sugary treat with green tea but you can also serve pieces of candied ginger or a butter cookie, if that appeals more.

7. Warming the pot, cooling the water. When the water comes to a boil, remove from the heat and pour it into your teapot. This will heat the pot and cool the water a little. After a minute or so, pour the water into the cups, discarding any remaining water. This will do three things: cool the water further, heat the cups, and measure the amount of water you will need for the tea.

8. Measure your tea. While the cups are warming, place a large pinch of tea per person being served into your pot. (Or if you need more specific measurements, 1 tablespoon per 16 ounces of water is often recommended.)

9. Brewing. Check the temperature of the water and if cooled sufficiently (180-190°F), pour the water from the cups into the tea pot and cover. Brew from 2 to 2-1/2 minutes.

10. Pour. Carefully, gently, pour the tea back into the cups. It’s OK if a few leaves fall into the cups but if you find you can’t control it, use a strainer. Eventually with practice you will be able to pour without too many leaves escaping.

11. Enjoy. Green tea should be sipped somewhat quickly as the taste will really shift as the tea cools down. I also like to pause and just focus on drinking the tea in order to enjoy and give my attention to its subtle flavor. All in all, the brewing and drinking takes less than 15 minutes (more like 10) which makes it a perfect break time activity.

12. More? You often can get up to three brews from your leaves, so if one cup isn’t enough, brew a second or third cup by simply pouring the hot (180-190°F) water over the leaves in the pot and steeping for the same amount of time.

[End of excerpt]

 

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