Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Next Level

The pursuit of tea is a never-ending quest and nobody is able to brew perfect tea every time. I know many tea lovers, myself included, who happily absorb every bit of tea information we can find, sorting through the relevant and the ridiculous, in order to enhance our own tea knowledge and improve our tea brewing skills. To that end, here are 10 tips that have helped me to move beyond the basic brewing parameters and bring my tea brewing to the next level.

1. Relax, take a deep breath and focus on the ritual.

2. Engage all five senses.

3. Great tea can only be made from quality loose leaves and good water.

4. Choose teaware that appeals to you. Beyond beauty and functionality, advanced tea brewers will often have pleasant stories or memories associated with their favorite cups and teapots.

5. Choose teaware that allows the tea leaves to expand properly and infuse evenly.

6. Mindfully drink tea as often as possible, alone and with friends. Until you know exactly what you like (which may never happen) I recommend drinking a wide variety of not-so-good-tea and oh-my-god-this-is-amazing-tea as both will further your personal tea education in their own ways.

7. Watch experienced tea brewers closely while they're brewing tea for you. Pay attention to the grace and fluidity of their movements and the care with which they handle their teaware and tea leaves.

8. Learn to trust your instincts. Advanced tea brewers develop a “Zen-like” ability to use the right temperature of water and correct steeping time.

9. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you really over-steeped your tea, that’s okay, live and learn. Even though the traditional way to brew a certain tea is almost always the best way, I recommend being playful and trying out some more "unorthodox" tea brewing experiments from time to time.

10. Be confident. As your experiences build upon each other, your tea brewing skills will increase.


Ben24Harris said...

I like your post. To add to what you said. I think that before you drink the tea you should put the cup with tea in it right under your nose, close your eyes, and try experience the tea through your sense of smell. For me it puts me in the right of mind to really appreciate the tea before I start actually drinking. Closing my eyes gives me the opportunity the experience the tea through my sense of smell in ways that I could not while my eyes are open.

Brett said...

Thanks for the great comment Ben24Harris. Aroma is so important. I probably should have included some more examples like yours with tip #2

Anonymous said...

No problem. I think that is healthy to share what we have learned along the way. I am glad to help out. By the way do you know of any good wholesalers of puer? My email address is

Alex Zorach said...

I often find that thinking too much about brewing tea "properly" often detracts from my experience of actually drinking the tea. Also, in the case of some teas, sometimes simpler ways of brewing produce better results.

For example, I recently sampled two Darjeelings from Harney and Sons tea, which I have yet to write up reviews of, and I tried brewing them in different ways. I've brewed both of them gong-fu style, and I was able to discern many different nuances of aroma throughout the different infusions. But in the end, I enjoyed both of them better when I just put a teaspoon in a basket infuser in a mug and steeped them for five minutes. I liked the overall taste / experience better that way, for those particular teas.