Fine-tuning the taste of your tea

If you have a very discerning taste, you've probably experienced your single-origin tea tasting slightly different at times. Whether it be compared to a tasting session in store or a home brewed cup just the day before, the subtle but not insignificant difference can leave you puzzled. Did I receive the correct product from the vendor? Or is it my brewing technique? 

The reality is, tea brewing technique can affect the taste of tea just as much as the quality of tea itself. Fortunately, there are a few items you can check to make sure you are fully experiencing your high-quality single-origin tea. 

1. Water temperature

If you are already using a temperature-controlled kettle, this step is much easily resolved. You just need to make sure that your teaware is warmed up prior to brewing (also included in our brewing guidelines) and the water is kept at the recommended temperature for subsequent brews.  Room temperature teaware can drop the temperature of boiled water by as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and your boiled water can cool down while you enjoy your tea. 

If you do not have such kettle and are not ready to purchase one just yet, it is worth using a thermometer to validate the temperature your electric kettle boils to as it would be different based on the purity of water as well as your altitude above sea level. Also, you can heat up large amount of water at a time to prevent water from cooling down too fast over multiple brews.

2. Amount of tea leaves

At Mansa, we recommend a specific amount of leaves per brew after our countless tasting sessions to optimize for the taste of tea. And depending on the type of tea, it can be quite difficult to eyeball the right amount as different tea products can have different density. Typically aged pu’er loses moisture over time and becomes make dense. Therefore, approximating the amount of aged tea based on the volume of young tea can lead to a stronger tea than expected.  

3. Size of tea leaves 

Sometimes you will notice that your tea order came with a mix of broken leaves. This can also happen even with Mansa’s tea products, as the leaves can break during shipping as well as from the loosening process from the tea cake.

In the case that the batch includes a mix of full leaves and broken leaves, we recommend only brewing a small mix of broken leaves at a time to prevent over-brewing. When we do our tea tastings at Mansa, we only use those broken leaves to round out our tea measurements to 3.0g after we fill the Gaiwan with mostly full leaves. 

4. Brewing time

When you conduct tea tastings using a Gaiwan, you will notice a wide variance across the taste of tea even when varying the brew time by 5-10 seconds. This is because Gaiwan brewing uses a much higher leaves to water ratio per brew than the traditional Western brewing.

When using 3g of tea leaves, we recommend starting with 30 seconds for your first brew. If you find your tea too light, try brewing 5-10 more seconds. If you find your tea too bitter, try brewing 5-10 fewer seconds.  

Of course, everyone has his or her own cup of tea. So feel free to share how you like to take your cup!