So I’m very eager to try some oolong tea. The fact that it is between green and black tea really intrigues me. The problem is I don’t have a teapot that can specify a certain temperature. Is it a problem using plain, old boiling water? Thanks!
You can research how long to leave boiling water sit to give you a rough estimate on temperatures or you can use a thermometer to either bring your water to or cool it down to the proper tempt, but yes there is a problem using freshly boiled water. Oolongs, especially green oolongs, are too delicate.
Gotcha. Doesn’t seem too difficult. Do you think an electric teapot is a good investment for the long run? Thanks again!
In my opinion an electric kettle is absolutley vital. I suggest something like this http://www.amazon.com/PINO-ST-8706-Digital-Kettle-Pro/dp/B001HC54O2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1265728804&sr=8-3 where you can set it in one degree increments instead of just having a handful of temperatures to pick from. That way you can use the same kettle no matter what type of tea you’re making saving you storage space and money. That being said, there are times where I’d want to heat the water manually. For those cases, I suggest: http://www.amazon.com/Component-Design-TT1-Digital-Thermometer/dp/B0021AEA8U/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1265729112&sr=8-39 I absolutely love mine. It gives you the time/temp combo for 18 different types of tea packaged 3 different ways in 8 different strengths. That’s 432 different combos! These 2 products will give you the perfect cup of tea whether you want to do all the work yourself, or get a little help from your kettle. Not to mention the thermometer saves you $ and storage space again because it doubles as a timer.
The electric teapot is a good, cheap option, but remember that water is as important as the tea leaves you prepare your tea with. My friends call me a tea purist, so you may wish to take what follows with a grain of salt. However, if you really get into tea, I suggest getting a Lin Kettle and possibly a Lin alcohol or charcoal stove. The kettle/stove combo allows you to heat water to your ideal temperature and keep it at whatever temperature you want (like an electric kettle). The difference is that the ceramic/clay that the kettle is made from doesn’t negatively change the flavour of the water you are using. Steel and plastic tend to change the flavours of your water, usually negatively. Lin claims that the rich mineral content in the clay of their kettles actually enhances the water, and I’d be inclined to agree since I’ve been using mine which I picked up in Taiwan 5 years ago. Ideally you’d be collecting your water from an open spring or freshwater stream, but we don’t live in an ideal world and our water must come through copper pipes (again, not ideal). But if it’s well water, it’s still pretty good.
Mark brings up an important point. In my opinion a purifier is essential as well. The Zero Water filter http://www.zerowater.com/ is the only pone that meets FDA standards for bottled water. Investing in this is sure better for your wallet and the environment!:)
TeaGschwendner’s thermometer is a good product if you want to measure your water’s temperature precisely. http://www.tgtea.com/buy/3/41/287/Thermometer/3261.aspx
But you know, it’s really not an exact science. Just boil the water, then turn off the stove and wait two minutes before pouring it over the tea. Heat up the tea pot first just as you normally would.
Forget about thermometers and what teapot to get and focus on what tea you are going to brew. Make sure you know the harvest date and the region it comes from and are not just buying something called ‘green oolong’. If the quality of the tea is good, you will have a lot more room in what temperature your water can be at, since higher grade leaves will be able to take higher water temperatures. A general rule of thumb for oolongs is to use just below boiling water. If you happen to use boiling water, just shorten the steeping time.
Hello Pithy, You made an interesting comment about Harvest Date. I normally don’t see that on websites prior to purchase. Is this something that you would like to know for information prior to purchase? Anyone else look at harvest date? Thanks everyone.
Yes. I look at harvest date. Also, anyone who is reading this, I advise you to ignore all other posts and listen to pithy. This is the best advice I have come across. All oolongs, if they are good quality, should be able to handle anywhere from 195 to boiling water without getting bitter.
Remember that there are different kinds of oolong. They can be oxidized anywhere from 20-80%. Lower oxidation means “green” oolong, which should be consumed fresh. It’s best drunk from a vacuum sealed package six months to a year from the date of packing, although it can last longer than that as well. The higher oxidation oolong is actually better consumed after several years of aging, and I’ve had one as old as 20 years which was fantastic. Fresh oolongs do better with lower temperature water (anywhere from 83 C to 90 C) and aged oolongs do better with higher temp. water (anywhere from 87 C to 95 C). The higher the grade, the higher you can go with the temperature. Most teas have an “ideal temp.” though and each one is different. The same tea harvested in a different year will also have a different ideal temp. as well, so keep that in mind. But if you find that ideal temp, it really opens up the flavours and aromas. Mind altering. Another thing to do is bring your water to what the Chinese call a “fish-eye boil.” This means it never quite reaches a rolling boil and the bubbles in the water are the size of fish eyes. Then let the water sit for 3-5 minutes to cool. This should get you started anyway. Basically what I recommend is experimenting.
If it’s a dark oolong (closer to the black side rather than green) curled shape, it almost always works if you throw 5-10 grains of dry tea (depending on size of the grain and your taste) into a 120ml cup (or use half volume of the mug), and pour in boiling water. This brewing method may not bring the tea to its full monetary value if it’s a very expensive tea. But it works fairly well most of the times.
Oolong is the genre for which probably the least you would need a thermometer, because few oolongs can be failed by boiling water.
In my opinion, I wouldn’t want to do a preparation method that “almost always works”. For me, that’s a waste of time, water, and leaf. But then again it is just that, my opinion. If that works for you, go for it.
I guess it’s easier for a beginner to start with. If someone starts out with some tea, I would rather give them a mug and boiling water, rather than a list of equipment and parameters :P
I wouldn’t ever use boiling water for an oolong. There’s too much danger of cooking the leaf. Once the leaf has been cooked you’ll never get the full spectrum of flavours and aromas out of it. If you’re preparing tea in a cup or mug, I recommend the mug first of all. Preheat the mug with hot water. Then a light dusting of leaves on teh bottom of the mug and pour enough hot water over top to half fill the mug. That way the aromas gather inside the mug on top of the tea soup. Not as good as gong fu cha, but a pretty good substitute. For heating water, see my post above.
Then in my opinion blacks are the way to go for that theory. Why give them a mug and boiling water if that isn’t what’s best for the tea? That may be setting them up for a false distaste for the tea. If you think oolongs are fine that way, then ok. Just don’t do it for something like dragonwell.
I wouldn’t give them a mug and “boiling” water. If they heat the water as I mentioned in a post above to a “fish-eye boil”, let sit for 3-5 minutes, they’ll be fine. I’m not saying this is ideal. I am saying you’ll get more out of the tea this way than if you pour boiling water over the leaves to fill the cup. To truly appreciate all of your teas, look into the gong fu method of pouring teas. That way you get not only the full spectrum of flavours and aromas, you also get a greater appreciation for the energy of each tea. It’s a lot easier to experiment with quantities of leaf, temperature of water and length of steeping this way. All of which I think are very important.
I’ve actually read a lot about boiling the water then letting it cool to the desired temp instead of just heating it up to that point, but I’m just not that patient:)
Cofftea, trust me, if you take the time you’ll definitely enjoy the outcome!
As I said, to each their own. For me the important thing is that I get the accurate temperature, not how I come to it.
Wow. I was not expecting this large of a response haha. Thanks everyone for the help. I really appreciate it. Loving the tea community already!
This discussion again demonstrates diversity of oolong and its brewing methods. ZFriedenreich, I guarantee you will never get tired of oolong :D
I’m resurrecting this old thread to get some new tips, if there are any. I’m having trouble figuring out how much dark oolong leaf I should be using if I’m not brewing it gong-fu style. With almost all of my other teas I brew 2tsp for 12oz of water, but my dark oolongs are always really weak. I did 1tbsp today, but the leaves are long and packed loosely, so it was still lighter than I think it probably should be. Any general suggestions?
And while I’m on the subject, does anyone want to link to some good resources on proper gong-fu brewing? And how it differs with different kinds of tea?
So my recommendation and technique will probably be ridiculed for it is in no way authentic. Gingko can attest to that, but it is reliable nonetheless.
The right answer is you should just be able to pour in the perfect amount every time. :) I however can’t so with my yancha’s along with many of my teas, I brew 1 gram of leaf per 90 ml of water so in my 12 oz mug I actually weigh out 4 grams of leaves. While a bit tedious it is consistent and my tea always comes out tasting the same, useful for comparisons. I find that measuring out teaspoons is quite inaccurate and inconsistent especially with the leafier roasted oolongs.
As far as gong fu cha I wish I did, please share if you find some, most all of my information has been sporadically pieced together from lots of different places. Wish I would have saved all the links now that you mention it. There are a couple really informative blogs out there, I’ll post links if I can find them. And I have found a couple, not many, good videos on youtube. Other than that the forums I guess. Really wish someone had compiled all the information in one place.
I’m definitely getting the feeling that of all the teas I’ve messed around with, dark oolongs are one that should be weighed, but I just don’t have a scale accessible here. I could take the leaves home and portion them out on my scale there and bring them back in, I suppose.
Thanks for your methods, and I’ll let you know if I come across any good gong-fu references.