how to brew green tea

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 in Food

tea

Friends, I am very happy to announce that I am officially off the mood swing-y, headache-y, crazy train that was coffee and solidly back on the peaceful and tranquil tea wagon. I love coffee. I love the taste of it, I love the ritual of it, I love the caffeine buzz, but coffee does not love me. When I’m on the juice, I get frequent headaches, my moods are totally unpredictable and I’m exhausted all the time. Since we moved, I’ve been relying on coffee to get me through our long, early morning commute, but the consequence of that has been a return of almost daily headaches, afternoon sleepiness and a general feelings of yuckiness. Coffee is an every-now-and-again drink for me. And it has to stay that way for me to feel strong and healthy. I was actually off coffee for about three years before this recent relapse. And I felt amazing during that time!

tea

Interestingly enough, teas of all kinds (yes, including caffeinated) don’t affect me that same way. I’m not sure what it is about Mr. Coffee Bean, but he and my body just don’t compute. Even decaf coffee makes me feel not so hot. But tea? Teas make me feel strong and healthy. And with study after study proving the healthy benefits of tea—specifically green tea—it’s hard to pass up.

tea

One of the things I loved about coffee is something that thankfully tea-drinking shares—the ritual. Sure, you can just plop a tea bag in your mug and call it a day, but to get really full-bodied and flavorful tea, using a tea pot is the way to go. And, while it takes longer, I feel like there is something really satisfying about the ritual of brewing tea in a tea pot. Also, you get to buy a cute tea pot. Isn’t that motivation enough?

tea pot

Since many of us Americans aren’t really all that well-versed in tea brewing, I thought I’d share with you guys my method for brewing the perfect cup of green tea.

1. Find your tea.

tea

First things first, you need to get yourself some loose leaf green tea. I really like Gunpowder Green, which is a type of green tea mostly produced in one particular province of China. The tea leaves are rolled into little tiny balls, which helps protect them during transit. When they hit the hot water, they unfurl and release all their tea-y goodness. It’s crazy how much the little pellets expand during steeping.

tea

I get my Gunpowder pellets in the bulk section of our local health food store. I like Gunpowder because it is flavorful, packed full of antioxidants, but not exorbitantly expensive, either. There are some really high-quality green teas (like Sencha and Gyokuro) that are incredible, but at $20+ for a few ounces, they just aren’t realistic for us for daily drinking.

2. Boil your water.

kettle

I know a lot of people swear by electric kettles (and we have one) but I love my good ole orange KitchenAid standard kettle and use it almost daily. It’s pretty enough to stay on the stove all the time and on the biggest burner we have, it actually boils more quickly than our electric kettle (gas stoves, for the win). Our tea pot holds five cups of water, which is almost exactly what our tea kettle holds. So I fill up the kettle, and then set it to boil. Once it whistles at me, I turn off the burner. For green tea, you actually don’t want to use boiling water. If you’ve ever had bitter green tea (yuck!) it’s probably because two things happened (1) boiling water was used to brew the tea and/or (2) the brewing time was too long. You’re looking for around 175 degrees. I usually just let my kettle boil, then let it cool off for a few minutes. Sometimes, I’m really on the ball and manage to catch the kettle before it starts to boil.

3. Scald the tea pot.

kettle tea

This step is a little fussy, and I don’t always do it when I’m feeling lazy, but it does really help to keep the tea warm, make it more flavorful and ensure there is no yucky residue in your tea pot. Pour a few tablespoons of the boiling water into your clean tea pot, swirl it around really well and then dump out the scalding water. Your tea pot is now all warm, toasty and ready for your tea.

4. Add your tea.

tea pot

Most loose leaf green teas (well, most teas in general) require about one teaspoon of loose leaves for each eight ounce cup of water. Our tea pot holds five cups which means I put in five teaspoons of loose leaf tea. Into the pot the leaves go! Since the amount does vary slightly based on the tea variety, make sure to look up your particular kind to get the exact ratio of leaves to water.

5. Pour in your water.

kettle tea pot

By now, your water should be cooled to the right temperature. Go ahead and pour it into the teapot. This is the fun part if you’re using Gunpowder pellets because the pellets start to unfurl and move and swirl! That’s one of the major bonuses of using a tea pot—the tea leaves get breathing room and space to do their thing, instead of being confined to a bag or small strainer ball. I think there is a noticeable difference in the flavor (and I’ve heard the tea pot helps the tea release more antioxidants). Once your pot is full, put the lid on, but don’t step too far away.

6. Strain.

tea strainer

Green tea is a finicky little guy. Just a little bit too long brewing and it goes bitter. You only want your green tea to brew between 45 seconds and one minute. Pretty much by the time I’ve got the mugs out of the cupboard and the tea strainer out, it’s ready to pour. If you’re not into living on the edge like I am, you can even set a timer (they actually have specific tea timers). When it’s time to pour, I use my adorable little tea strainer (also from a local health food store) but you can just as easily use any kind of mesh strainer you have on hand.

7. Enjoy.

green tea

Done! Perfect green tea. Sometimes I drink my tea straight up, but my favorite way is with a teaspoon or so of raw local honey. The little grains at the bottom? That’s leftovers from the straining process. It doesn’t bother me, but if you want it to be grain-free, you can strain it through a coffee filter.

tea honey

We usually use giant mugs for tea, and rarely have any leftovers, but if you aren’t into giant mugs like we are, you’ll probably have leftover tea in your tea pot. And since you don’t want it to brew any longer, you’ll need to go ahead and pour it out. We keep a pitcher in the fridge for tea “leftovers”. We drink a variety of teas, so it’s kinda mish-mash, but mixed with a touch of agave (which dissolves well at low temps) and served over ice, it’s a nice treat after a hard workout.

iced tea

Of course, this is the “at home” method for brewing tea. I’m no tea snob. I’ve been known to carry an extra bag of tea in my purse just so I can have some tea with bathroom hot water from a gas station on a road trip (truth). And I’ve drunk my fair share of tea from Starbucks. But if I have the time, I love to go about brewing tea the tea pot way. If you’ve never tried it, you should!

Happy tea drinking!

Are you a coffee or a tea person?

 

12 Comments

  1. oh man, I am the SAME way with coffee… I love it… and worked in a coffee shop for 3 years (totally addicted) and when I quit, I had to give it up. It was tough, but I feel so much better and I LOVE tea! My favourite tea right now is White Heron’s White Melon tea. It’s more of a summer tea, but it’s amazing and smooth and flavourful and makes incredible iced tea. I think it might be a local tea though. They sell it in our local health food store in bulk.

  2. I have tried tea before but never really liked it…it seems too watery to me?! But maybe it’s because I’m not drinking the properly brewed cup of tea! Your ritual sounds very relaxing and the finished product is something I would love to try. Maybe I’ll give it one more chance!

    • It definitely depends on the tea, too! Green tea is inherently a little weak (although some kinds are stronger than others). You just haven’t found your tea yet! You should check out if there is a Teavana location near you and go and sample. :)

  3. Awesome! I definitely want to get into drinking tea more often! Beautiful first photo, by the way!

  4. I am definitely a coffee person. I want to like tea, but for the most part I don’t enjoy it. And my husband is a serious tea drinker and very picky about types of tea and brewing it properly. The exceptions are Genmaicha and Monkey Picked Oolong; those I can actually drink and enjoy. I also love peppermint tea, always have, but that is not technically a tea (i.e. doesn’t contain tea leaves).

  5. I’m a big tea-aholic! Usually have it a couple of times a day and pretty much always loose tea, unless I’m extremely lazy. I use a pot when I’m at home and at work I have have a loose tea travel mug that I love.

    Really love green tea. My favorites right now are jasmine and genmaicha green tea.

  6. I’ve been decaffeinated for a long time – any amount, even the small bit in green tea – sets off panic attacks. But I drink herbal teas and decaf green or black tea all day long. I don’t put anything in it, except once in awhile I like my black tea with milk & sugar. Adagio Teas (www.adagio.com) is a wonderful online tea store.

  7. I actually love the smell of coffee and the taste of things like coffee ice cream and candy, but I just cannot handle that level of caffeine very well, it always gives me a bit of a stomachache :( I come from a tea-drinking household so that feels more natural to me and I’m trying to develop a ritual around it as well for the comfort. My main foible is that I often forget about my tea until it’s too cold, but one thing that really helps with that is keeping most of the tea I brew in a vacuum pitcher where it stays hot for literally hours.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that this post was really useful for pointing out the importance of figuring out the general amount of water you’re using to measure out the right amount of tea. I have a question though–if you’re only going to use the teapot for a minute or two, why wouldn’t you just put the tea leaves directly into the kettle? Other than teapots are cute and nice to have around, which is a good reason as well.

    • I suppose you could, although I use my kettle to boil water for all kinds of things, so I like to keep it a strictly water-only vessel. :)

      • Fair enough!

  8. Hooray for tea! I have just recently given up on coffee too. It’s just hard on my stomach and I like the zen calm I feel when I switch to tea! You should check out TeaSparrow. They are a company that will send you a lovely little monthly box of tea samples (for a reasonable price). Really great company, and they got me excited about all kinds of new teas!

  9. Thank you for this post! I am the same way about coffee, even decaf–I get headaches/migraines if I drink it, so I try to avoid it except on rare occasions. But I too love the ritual of something warm, especially in the morning, so I’m an avid tea drinker–but I’ve never used a “real” teapot to brew (I always just use bagged tea or loose leaf in a travel mug) and always wondered where you put the leaves without them ending up in your cup! I could’ve googled it but your post is much better, so thank you! PS I rarely comment, but I love your blog–keep up the great work and congrats on quitting your job!

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