Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Finding your green tea's "sweet spot"

Every green tea has its "sweet spot"--the right combination of water temperature, amount of tea leaves, and steeping time that really brings out the tea's flavor and aroma. Don't think that you know a tea after drinking a few cups of it; a different combination of variables could make it taste like a completely different tea the next time around. Experiment with your Mellow Monk tea, and keep a mental note of, for instance, the water temperature. You don't have to use a thermometer; just get a general sense of how long you let the water sit after boiling. (Just-boiled water is too hot and will "cook" the tea.) To experiment methodically, hold one variable constant while changing another. For instance, if brewing by the potful, always put a heaping teaspoon into the pot, and let the boiled water sit roughly the same length of time before pouring it into the teapot, but let the tea steep for 3 or 4 minutes one time, then longer the next time. You'll begin to notice subtle differences in the flavor and aroma, and eventually learn which one suits your own tastes. You can also vary the tea according to how you feel--a strong brew one day, a lighter one the next day. After a time, it will all become second nature to you.

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