Sunday, 8 May 2011
why does green tea taste like dirt?
Green courtyard to go with the green tea
One of my intentions is to write this blog not just for those initiated to tea, but for people curious about tea, as well. Maybe they've had teabags and don't really get what all the fuss is about. Or they only drink tea when they're ill. Or they bought a box of teabags three years ago and periodically pull it out to brew a dusty old bag. With terrible results.
So, a good acquaintance on twitter (look how far we've come with all of this) complained about green tea today, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give a few simple tips for brewing this stuff.
First of all, here's @CherylAnneNY and if you roll back through her tweets, you'll see that she's less than impressed with the green leaf.
I'm sure we could find a really pedantic site that explains brewing green tea in a really intricate and obsessive way. We're going to avoid that route entirely. I found a clearly written, short article about it (How to brew green tea), but I can already here you kvetching about each of the little things mentioned.
Here is a direct quote of the four main points:
1. Use loose tea
2. Heat fresh cold water to 165-170 degrees F in a non-reactive teakettle.
3. Let the tea expand while steeping
4. To adjust the taste, change the amount of tea, not the brew time
'Loose tea?', you ask. Is that really necessary? You want as little mess as possible. I know where you're coming from, but it really makes a huge difference. Quality and temperature of water are also crucial, but if you're using tea of questionable quality, then you'll get tea of the same questionable quality.
We want to keep this simple. Although filtered water is best, the most important thing, in my experience, is how hot the water is. For a long time, I let the water boil and added cold water to it. I've since learned that the water's properties change when you let it get to a rolling boil.
If you don't have a thermometer to check that the water isn't hotter than 170°F, then simply let it almost boil. I know that's not at all scientific and there are tea obsessives out there who'll insist that this is leading you down the wrong path. We're going to ignore them for the time being.
We just want to make it more comfortable for you in here with us tea drinkers. Once you taste how much better the tea is brewed with cooler water, you're more likely to ease in a bit deeper and start juggling thermometers and the teapots that're more ideal for green tea.
Until then, play with it. Use more leaves or less. Brew it for shorter than you think you should. It doesn't matter if the water is such a light shade of green that it looks like yellow water. How it looks is far less important than how it tastes.
I'm going to end this post by begging for responses. Cheryl agreed to let me mention her here by name, and then she pleaded, 'Hopefully you will suggest brands that don't taste like dirt.' Help me out here my loyal readership. I don't know American tea brands very well at all. What should she start with? If she has to go with teabags to start out, what's a brand of teabag that's not that bad?
Come on people...jump in here and help us out.
'Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.' -Princess Leia