In 2020, the global consumption of tea amounted to about 6.3 billion kilograms! As a result, tea has quickly grown to become the second most popular beverage in the world after water. But how much do we know about the ceremonies and proper brewing methods behind this delicious beverage?
How to brew loose leaf tea?
Brewing loose leaf tea is an art form. With many variables to take into consideration, the preparation of tea is considered a lifelong learning process, with each and every cup teaching you something about the tea leaves as well as your own preference in taste and smell. When brewing loose leaf tea, it is important to take care of all brewing parameters: water temperature, steeping time, amount of tea, and amount of water. The best cup of tea is only produced when all of these factors are aligned to highlight the teas best qualities. This comes with experience as well as using recommendations outlined on the packaging. For example, Chanoyu specifically highlights the amount of tea to water ratio, the ideal temperature to brew the tea, as well as the steeping time. After testing the baseline brewing parameters, it is up to the brewer to make any micro-adjustments to the preparation to better suit their own preferences. For example, using hotter water or steeping for a longer period of time will lead to a stronger brew of tea while cooler temperatures and short steeping times lead to a weaker brew. Additionally, using more tea in relation to water will result in a richer brew with more texture and mouthfeel as seen in gongfu brewing. All in all, making the perfect cup of tea is a personal discovery, where one discovers their own preferences in taste, smell, and body sensation. Be curious, taste, try and enjoy!
What is a tea ceremony?
In general, a tea ceremony is a special moment either to show respect or gratitude to guests, to mark a special moment (wedding celebration) or to apologize. For example, in Chinese culture, children who have misbehaved may serve tea to their parents as a sign of regret and submission.
The most famous tea ceremony is found in Japan, called « Cha-no-yu » or « Cha-do ». It’s a complex, delicate and mindful ceremony rooted in the principles of Zen Buddhism to promote wellbeing, mindfulness, and harmony. The host will prepare and serve tea with special sweets, read poetry, prepare special flower decorations and more. The tea itself is a powdered green tea we all know and love, called matcha.
In China, the tea ceremony is called «Gongfu-cha», meaning "making tea with skill". This tea can be for private enjoyment as well as to welcome guests to your home. Gongfu sessions are commonly accompanied by Yixing clay teapots that contain special minerals to help soften and round out the tea flavour.
There are many other tea ceremonies and tea rituals, including some ancient ones in Korea, and some more modern versions like the famous «Tea Time» in the United Kingdom.
How to select your tea?
Selecting your tea is a highly personal process that revolves around understanding what you enjoy. It is important to taste a variety of teas to be in tune with what flavour profiles you prefer so you can make educated decisions when choosing tea. In general, people who enjoy light floral teas should look into white teas. Those who prefer something more vegetal and umami filled should explore Japanese green teas whereas those looking for more nutty bright tastes should explore Chinese green teas. People who enjoy stronger more earthy teas should explore black teas. If you prefer a mix of the qualities of green tea and black tea, you can explore the realm of oolong teas. Finally, if you are seeking more complexity and depth, you can enjoy fermented or PuErh teas. In general, selecting your tea is a process of discovery where you identify what qualities you look for in tea and then exploring that category.
How to serve your tea?
To enjoy a successful tasting, you must take care of :
the quality of the water
the quantity of tea
the steeping time
They are all key factors for a successful cup of tea. We suggest you follow the indications on our packaging, use a timer and a boiler that indicates the boiling temperature. But the most important thing is to take pleasure in the ritual of preparing your tea and savour the moment.
EHL Alliance partner Chanoyu is a young Swiss brand run by a team of passionate tea experts with over 20 years' experience.