How to improve the taste of green tea

Andres Nava 
Tea enthusiast and owner of Tao Te Tea

For a flower to bloom, each one requires a unique and particular balance between the forces of nature; it is only then that a particualr emergence occures and the flower blooms. Tea, much like a flower, has a blooming point as well. The blooming point is the point of equilibrium between the forces that allow the flavor quality and complexity of the tea to expresses in its full potential.


Blooming Tea Lotus Flower

The Three T's

The forces in balance that determine a tea’s blooming point are timetemperature, and tea.

Usually, any decent tea shop will advise a general brewing guideline for each class of tea sold. However, the brewing guidelines are not “instructions.” It is impossible to write instructions for each cup of tea. Every tea brewing ceremony is its own unique marriage of the forces.


The sun does not rush to rise, neither the leaf to awaken

Time

The length of time to be left steeping depends a lot on the tea leaves themselves. There are some teas that are extraordinarily delicate and require not only a suitable temperature but the ideal time to be steeped.

When you purchase tea from most places, there will be some sort of guideline as to the time to be steeped on the packaging. However, do not get stuck in the frame of mind that the time specified on the package is a golden rule written in stone. Over time, you may develop a "sense" for when the tea is ready to be strained out of the water.

Temprature

Do not fear experimentation when it comes to temperature, in the lower ranges that is. White tea is especially vulnerable to temperature. It can be easy to "burn" your tea, even by following the "recommendations" on the packaging. In truth, most of those "recommendations" are not written by a tea master who has developed a relationship with that particular tea, they are a "copy-paste," "cookie-cutter," blanket recommendation based on the whether the tea is white, green, black, or other.


I would recommend using the "guidelines" to establish an upper limit for water temperature, but experiment with cooler steepings and see how your tea responds. Remember, every ceremony is unique.

With experience, you may find that higher temperatures are acceptable to the tea during re-steepings. I tend to increase the temperature of my water as well as the time steeping when re-steeping tea.

Tea

Have you ever been to a performance and was unable to enjoy the show because the audience was too congested?

Tea can behave differently around friends. Some teas like to be brewed in large concentrations, others are less social.

Again, the "recommendations" may say to use a "teaspoon" of leaves for every cup of water, but the tea will speak for itself if one takes the time to listen. Make a few experimental brews with your tea to get to know it better. Don't be afraid to steep less tea, or more than the recommended amount. It's easy to get stuck in the same pattern of using the same number of teaspoons for every tea, but tea, like life, is never truly repetitious. Every minute is unique, every snowflake and fingerprint is different.

Let your nose guide you to how much tea to use. How does the tea smell? Is it potent with a heavy rich bouquet? Then try using less tea. If the tea is light and fragrant, I would recommend experimenting with more. This is not to say follow your nose every time. The tea may disagree with your nose after it is brewed.

A Final Thought

A universal method to balance the three T's of tea does not exist. You may find a tool or method that work for a particular tea, but it will not translate across to all teas. The blooming point is attainable; when you find it, you will know it exactly. It may be weeks, or just minutes, before you experience another "perfect" tea, but if you become aware of the balancing forces, you may appreciate that moment all the more deeply.

There is wisdom to be found in a simple cup of tea.

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