Here, we introduce key points to enjoying Japanese teas.
Which type of teas are you about to brew?
Japanese teas offer a variety of tastes and aromas. If you want to be acquainted with characteristics of Japanese teas that you have, please refer to the descriptions on this page.
In general, higher quality teas offer more umami (flavor-enhancing amino-acids) and caffeine , while medium quality teas offer more antioxidant benefits of tea catechin. If you want to know the major component by tea types, you can check here.
What types of tea ware will you brew with?
Choosing tea ware is very important in the Japanese tea brewing culture. Teacups have two types in general. A bowl shape and a cylindrical shape. Bowl shaped cups are often used for guests. If you choose white porcelain, it shows the color of the infusion quite well. Cylindrical shaped cups are for daily use.
The size of the teapot depends on the number of cups you will make. Ceramic teapots are recommended for making tea with good taste. It also shows the nice infusion color. Please choose a teapot with a fine tea screen if you choose teas with small leaves such as deep steamed Sencha.
Here are some recommended sizes of teapots and teacups.
Type of water which brings out good taste and color of teas
Japanese teas go with soft water. The best water for Japanese teas includes calcium carbonate 30-80 mg/l (0.004-0.011 ounce/gallon) and not more than 120 mg/l(0.016 ounce/gallon). Because they will reduce the fresh aroma, lighten the color of the infusion, and sometimes result in an off-taste. The recommended water pH is 5.8 – 8.6.
If the water contains more than 200mg/l (0.0267 ounce/gallon) of sodium chloride, it will taste salty. If the water contains more than 0.4mg/l (0.00005 ounce/gallon) of iron or 0.5mg/l (0.000067 ounce/gallon) of manganese, the infusion will be blackish brown.
Boil the water for 5 minutes
We recommend boiling the water for 5 minutes in order to take out dissolved air and chlorine odor. Even if the best temperature to brew the tea is below the boiling temperature, please boil the water once and then cool it down to the recommended temperature. This may prevent tea leaves from floating with air bubbles. And it also avoid making the infusion taste watered down.
Ideal tea and hot water amounts, along with water temperatures and infusion times (in relation to the number of cups served)
In general, lower water temperatures, longer infusion time, less water volume are ideal for higher quality teas.
Please be aware that the first-time infusion requires more water because the tea leaves absorb 4 times of its weight. For the highest quality tea, the 2nd and 3rd infusions bring out more components to the infusion.
Here are standard ways to brew Japanese teas.
Serve tea evenly
As you do all for other teas, Mawashitsugi in Japanese means to pour the infusion to each cup, little by little, to make the amount and density equal. If you make tea for 2 cups, pour the infusion into 1st cup, 2nd cup, then 2nd cup, 1st cup, and 1st cup, 2nd cup until you pour out all liquid.
Pour out all infusion
If you want to enjoy 1-2 times additional servings after the first infusion, please pour out all infusion from the previous infusion. This prevents any tea leaves in the teapot from continuing to infuse before you brew the next serving. And, in brewing the second or third serving, we recommend to brew at a higher water temperature and a shorter infusion time, about half time of the first infusion.