The Art of Making a Perfect Cup

There is a lot to learn about the perfect cup, it is both a science and an art. In China there are tests for tea masters, a rating system similar to chefs. To truly make a good cup of tea requires an in-depth knowledge. Apart from good technique, there are four basic requirements to a prefect cup; water, tea leaf, teaware and good surroundings.

Tea Leaf 好茶

What tea leaf is classified as “good”? It’s hard to say. It really depends on personal preference. For green tea the leaf must be fresh and retain its good natural colour and aroma. The leaf should be whole and not broken. In general, the freshest green tea is produced in early spring. This is the most beneficial and tastiest green tea. But, if stored properly, green tea can maintain it’s freshness for years. (See tea storage section).

Water 好水

The character of great tea leaf can only be shown through high quality water. Many experienced tea lovers go to great lengths just to get high quality natural spring water. Water has a dramatic impact on the flavour of tea. Water that is too hard or with high pH is not suitable for brewing tea, because the tea brewed from hard or high pH water will be bitter and the distinctive green colour of the tea will be replaced by a deeper, darker colour. So water used for brewing tea should either be distilled water or quality mineral water. The water hardness should be no higher than 10gpg and the pH should be between the ranges of 5.5 to 7.Any higher and the tea can become bitter. Filtered water is also acceptable.

Teaware 好器

The minimum requirement of teaware is it must be clean. Any residue could spoil the flavour of any tea. Many tea lovers like to see how the tea infuses with water and the movement of the tea leaf within the tea cup. For blooming tea, glass teaware is preferable. It is very pleasing to see how the bud unfolds like an elegant ballerina. Connoisseurs prefer to use thin, white china because it is easier to examine the colour of the liquor. Teaware should not be too big, since the size of the teaware is closely related to the brewing process. Heat dissipates quicker over a larger surface area, hence it is harder to maintain the right temperature range for infusion.

Environment 好心情

Tea drinking is a full sensory experience; the colour, the aroma and the taste. A noisy or stressful environment will take away the best part of the tea drinking experience; the feeling of tranquillity.