Chapter 2: The Art of Steeping

You will extract the most pleasure from premium tea, steeped with care. The Minister of Fire & Water suggests the following step-by-step ritual for steeping premium tea and herbs.

Start With Good Ingredients

Tea begins with the water — the element that brings tea to its full potential. Fresh water provides a blank canvas for tea, and yields a better cup. We recommend using filtered or spring water and replacing any water that has been sitting for too long; water is a sponge that absorbs flavors, even from the air around it.

Heat The Water

Fill your kettle with fresh, cold water and heat to a rolling boil — unless you’re making green or white tea. In that case, stop just short of boiling to avoid “cooking” the delicate tea leaves.

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Measure The Tea

This may seem obvious, but use premium tea. Use one teaspoon of full-leaf loose tea or herbs, or one tea bag per six-ounce cup of water. One six-ounce cup is the size of a traditional tea cup, or about half the size of most mugs. If using full-leaf loose tea or herbs, place tea in an infuser or a teapot.

Time The Steeping

Different teas call for different infusing times. Experiment to find your ideal time, but take care — don’t steep for too long or you’ll find your tea has gone bitter. If you are after a stronger cup, the trick is more tea, not more steeping.

Tea Water Tea Bag Full-Leaf
Black boiling 3 — 5 min 3 — 5 min
Green short of boiling 1 — 3 min 2 — 4 min
Oolong boiling 3 — 5 min 5 — 7 min
White short of boiling 30 — 60 sec 2 — 3 min
Red/Herb boiling 5 — 7 min 5 — 7 min

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Enjoy Your Tea

Remove the tea bag or infuser, or use a strainer for the leaves. Save oolong leaves for multiple infusions. Allow the steaming tea to cool for a moment. Sip by sip, enjoy the nuances, complexity and character of each flavor.

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Mastering Iced Tea

Nearly anything you love hot can also be iced (here are a few of our favorites) pretty easily. The principles are the same as above, with a couple of important twists: 1.Since half of the water in iced tea is just melted ice, using good water means using good ice. Try making ice cubes from the same water you would use to make the tea. The difference can be quite noticeable. 2. If you are making iced tea to drink right away, use twice as much tea as you would for brewing hot tea. That way, when you pour it over ice, the melting water brings it to the perfect strength.

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