Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Be Gentle with Green Tea!

I know that some of you prefer black teas to green. And that's fine. No hassle from me. All tea is good in my book. At the same time, let me suggest that if you find yourself with a chance to try a green tea again....please do the following. It will help your green tea taste much better!

1 - Do NOT use boiling water! This is the biggest problem most folks have with green teas. They treat a green just like a black. Green tea is much more delicate than black tea. As a rule of thumb, use water that is just shy of boiling. (I pick the kettle off the burner when it starts to rumble a bit...or when a few bubbles pop up.) Technically, water should be between 160-180 degrees F for green teas.

2 - Do NOT steep too long! Black teas can stand up to a long steep - 3 to 5 minutes. Generally, I steep green teas between 2 to 3 minutes. Steep duration is a very personal thing as people prefer differing stengths of tea. However, start on the low side and increase gradually until you find the time just right for you. Tip: keep a notebook with the name of the tea, the water temp (I use the shortcuts "rumble, shhh, or sing*"), and the steep length you prefer. These factors will vary even among green teas.

3 - If possible, use loose leaf tea rather than bagged. Bagged teas are OK in a pinch, but loose teas are almost always superior in quality.

As a related tip - if you don't like a particular tea on your first try, I suggest backing off the steep time and/or water temp and giving it another go.

Bottoms up to a better cup of green tea!

* My words describing sounds may not synch with what you hear. Here's a bit more on my descriptions.
Rumble = When the water is just starting to make noise in the kettle. Good for green teas.

Shhh = Just prior to making the kettle sing, the water "gets quiet." This is good for a solid oolong. Sometimes I back up a bit with oolongs, as well. It depends on the tea.

Sing = When the water is at full boil and the kettle chirps happily. Good for black teas.


NM Tea Lover said...

I set the timer on my stove for 2 to 3 minutes for green teas so that I don't to over-steep them. And heat does make a difference - I listen for the "rumble" sound also because I live at a high elevation where the boiling point is lower.

If you accidentally oversteep, try it again. You'll be surprised at the delicate flavor of greens.

Steph said...

Great tips - thank you!

john underwater said...

I have to agree with the loose tea on the green. While black bag tea tastes great to me (being an amateur), I find that really good loose green tea changes the experience for me. I find the bagged stuff not so good for the green.