A Response to an Email

As if Friday weren’t exciting enough for office-bound tea drinkers on the 9 to 5 worldwide! I will be posting an excerpt from one of our more informative email responses. This way our readers can get easy insight into the answers to questions that tea drinkers just like you have posed. So, please draw yourself a big mug of hot mountain spring water, infuse some invigorating tea and enjoy the banter.

“One of the great things about high-quality true tea is that you can experiment with it quite a lot and still have decent results. I recommend trying to use as little of the tea as you can while still getting a decent series of cups. From that baseline you can then add more tea on days when you want more kick and endurance from your pot.

“You read that right; endurance. You should be steeping these tea leaves over and over again. Because we have experimented with the teas ourselves and learned the optimal combination of water temperature(s), vessel heat, tea leaf quantity, steeping time – we may drink from one mug of tea all day… and all night long in some cases. The staff at Seven Cups will often let the tea leaves settle to the bottom and then sip from the top, one infusion after the other. With the puer you may wish to leave it in the pot constantly steeping in water while you drink from an auxiliary cup.

“With teas like the Sencha and the Li Li Xiang that you purchased, you don’t need to bring the tea to a full boil. With the Sencha – and other green teas – you should experiment a bit: add a little cool water and then fill your vessel up with hot; use different intensities of hot water; steep covered/uncovered; warm the vessel first or not – these are all part of enjoying great tea.

“With a tea like puer you can definitely use water at a rolling boil. In fact, for the best flavor some puer drinkers will simmer the leaves themselves. Don’t try this with other true tea. The result will be a horribly bitter cooked flavor.

“Essentially, it all comes down to the heat of the water and the length of steeping time. A hotter water and longer infusion will result in fewer but stronger cups. Cooler water with brief infusion time will result in many more delicate cups. Many Chinese tea drinkers go with slightly higher temperatures (occasionally tempered by the initial introduction of a minuscule amount of cool water and not covering the vessel entirely with rare greens) and extremely short infusion times.

“I know some students of Japanese chado who, when preparing gyokuro, will pour barely steaming mountain spring water into their kyushu and then as soon as they have both hands free will dispense the glowing emerald broth into your cup in one fluid motion. The result is delectable.”