PS: These posts portray the opinions of the author. Strong they may be, always be aware “to each their own.” If you want to do things ‘wrong,’ do it wrong. Happy steeping!
Boiling Water Kills Green Tea!
Boiling Water Kills Green Tea. The extreme heat tends to not only steep the tea too fast, but can scald it as well. Water burns each and every leaf and kills the steep and every subsequent infusion. OR DOES IT?! The so called traditional schools of tea told many similar stories to us in the west. The labels and steeping instructions on eCommerce sites, the labels on bags of tea, book after book and tea shops; many high-end loose leaf tea shops are guilty too! I won’t name any shops, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Damn the Cold! Full Boil Ahead!
AH HA! I use a style similar to gongfu to steep my green teas. After the kettle settles down from the rolling boil, and the teapot is warmed and filled with green tea leaves, I pour the much hotter hotter-than-suggested-by-many water right onto the leaves and do a quick near instant rinse. YEP! A rinse, just like I do with my wulongs (sorry Tomas & Herbert, it’s spelled wulong now) *. Okay, it may not be boiling, but it’s perhaps 200F: close enough.
Why This Works?
This works on the same basic principles of rinsing wulongs. Of course, one should think of it as opening the leaves rather than rinsing dirt off them. But this “blanch,” perhaps a better term, does rinse off dirt and any residue. But that’s not the point. The point is to open the leaves. And with green tea, it works as well. However, don’t expect the same taste.
Steeping 1, 2, 3, etc.
Next comes the first infusion and first pouring to sip! Like above, I pour the oh-so-hot water into the pot, and wait less than 5 seconds, maybe 3 or 4, (I don’t count) pour it out quickly into a pitcher and voilà! A VERY tasty cup of green tea. I continue keeping my water near boiling and doing very short steeps. Now… one would think, as I did when I first tried this… why would I do this? It will surely die in 3 or 4 steeps! H.E. Double Hockey Sticks NO! I have gotten 7 sometimes 10! infusions with this method, whereas using cooler water and steeping much longer gets me no further than 4 or 5 with the same tea in the same pot. OF COURSE, one must not forget, that when I do this hot method, I do use a tad more leaves than usual. But it’s not much more than maybe 2 grams. I don’t use some sort of timer, I don’t use a scale to weigh my tea, call me crazy, but I think making every pot a bit different only increases its definition as an art form and not a science.
Back to this hot water. Give it a try. After talking back and forth via email with Akira Hojo, of Hojo Tea, about making tea this way, he posted a video demonstrating it:
In fact, I highly recommend most of his steeping demonstrations on his YouTube: CHANNEL.
I’ve learned many ways, some very interesting and complex, to steep green tea. I must admit, I use this hot water method for steeping green tea MUCH more often than other methods. I MUST admit, it doesn’t work for all greens, I have not had much luck using this method with good Korean green tea: Maybe another post on interesting and almost surefire ways to bring out the best in your Korean greens.
OH NO, the Taste!
I almost forgot, the taste will differ to a bit sweeter taste and a tad more fragrant. In Japanese teas, it sometimes subdues the “seaweed-ish” taste that I’m not too fond of, but it does take away some umami that I do enjoy. I will admit, there are bonuses and drawbacks to this method, as with every method. And don’t dismiss this on your first or even your third try, it took me five or so to get it right, or well enough for me to enjoy this method.
* Thomas’ & Herbert’s last names might be familiar to you, Wade & Giles.