A great cup of Chinese tea starts with hot water, a pinch of fresh tea leaves and just a few minutes of your time.
Below is a basic introduction to brewing Chinese tea - remember, if you're looking for the perfect brew, then don't forget to check out our experts guides for each tea.
Every Chinese tea is different, so a safe rule-of-thumb is to use just-off-the-boil water if you're not sure - leave the boiled kettle for 20-30 seconds and then pour. Generally speaking, the lighter the colour of the tea, the cooler the water should be. Red and black teas like Lapsang Souchong can take 95-100 degree water, green oolongs like Iron Buddha can accept 90 degrees, and pure green or white teas (like our Long Jing and Silver Needle) need about 80-85 degrees.
You don't need any special teapots or teacups - a mug or your old teapot will work fine. You can use the traditional Chinese teasets if you have one though - some people believe it enhances the flavour.
It's part of the tea ritual to wash your tea leaves. Even though it's not essential (the leaves are actually quite clean), there can be some tea dust or 'fuzz' (in the case of white teas or teas like our Jin Jun Mei) that settles on the leaves. Many people also believe that this first wash activates the leaves, waking up the taste for the next brew. It's traditional to use the first brew to warm your cups, if you're brewing in a teapot or with a teaset.
Once you've washed the tea, cover it in hot water in a mug or teapot and leave to steep for about 1-2 minutes. The exact time is up to you and your taste preference, but we'd often advise that you start with a short brew and lengthen the steeping time gradually. A light brew will often reveal more subtle, fragrant flavours, whereas a long brew will bring out all the deep flavours and tannins in the tea.
Remember that with all of our Chinese teas, you can rebrew at least 3-4 times. Each brew will have a different character, and a good tea rewards the more you drink it with the tastes accumulating or changing on your tongue.