Making good tea is very simple:
1. Heat good-tasting water.
2. Add tea to brewing vessel.
3. Infuse to taste.
4. Strain and enjoy!
5. Re-infuse the leaves.
Vessel: Choose a teapot, covered cup, or gaiwan or yixing pot, and preheat with hot water. Use a strainer to prevent leaf particles from entering the cup or spout.
Tea: Brew teas loose, not in a small tea ball or infuser. This allows the leaves to open and release the fullest flavor. Whole-leaf teas vary in density, so weight is the most accurate measurement (see Brewing Charts, right).
Water: Start with good-tasting water, such as spring or filtered. Avoid tap water; it may contain chemicals which will affect the taste of the tea.
Temperature: White or green teas, well below boiling (170° - 185° F) - these leaves are more simply processed, so the lower temperature helps avoid astringency and maintain their inherent sweetness. Oolongs (185° - 210° F). Black teas, just off a boil. Pu-erhs, full rolling boil (212° F) for shu; slightly off the boil (~200° F) for sheng.
Time: Until you are familiar with a particular tea, steep for a minute or so, then try a sip. Pay attention to its flavor, rather than its color. When the tea tastes right to you, serve or decant to avoid oversteeping. Most teas are meant to be infused several times. Increase steeping time for subsequent infusions.
Experiment: Feel free to play with water temperature, brewing time, and proportion of tea to water. Watch the leaves unfurl and savor the aroma. Remember, our guidelines are just that - enjoy!