How to Make Loose Leaf Green Tea

How to Make Loose Leaf Green Tea

You can buy the best green teas in the world, but if you don’t prepare it the right way, it will be such as waste of your money. While everyone is familiar with tea bags, it’s the perceived complexity of making green tea leaves that stops many people from switching. In fact, making loose leaf green tea isn’t that difficult. And once you know our tips and tricks, you’ll enjoy tea more and steep a more healthy cup.

Do note that this guide isn't for steeping green tea bags.

Best teaware for green tea preparation

In China, there’s a saying that fine utensils are more important than fine food. That’s because it can add to the visual enjoyment and highlight the characteristics of the leaves and liquor. The best teaware for loose green tea should therefore be steeped with transparent glass or white porcelain teaware. We’ve therefore made several videos each showing a different way of preparation, using a variety of loose leaf tea brewers, including a glass mug, straight glass, teapot, and porcelain gaiwan.

Tea for One: Loose leaf tea mug or straight glass

In the first video, you’ll see a demonstration of how to prepare the fresh Jasmine tea leaves in a loose leaf tea mug that comes with an infuser. Very convenient if you want to get a quick tea fix without performing any rituals.

A bit more challenging, but another great way to make casual cup of tea for yourself is by using a simple straight glass. There are 3 ways to do this. See the video below for a demonstration:

Tea for Many: Loose leaf tea pot

Besides mugs, you can of course also use a glass teapot for loose green tea. This type of infuser will be more practical if you’re planning to share a brew with others. The sprout in the filter will make sure the leaves stay in the pot. This kind of filter built into the sprout might let some smaller leaves through though. That's why we've picked this this Huangshan Maofeng for a demonstration in the video below. In fact, this large teapot is great for this green tea, as it provides enough room for the leaves to expand during the infusion.

Glass teapot with handle for gongfu brewing.

This teapot is smaller than the previous one and with thicker glass. This allows it to isolate heat better and makes it more suitable for brewing many small portions of loose tea. See how we make a Liu An Gua Pian using this piece of glassware with a side handle.

Gongfu brewing: Make Green Tea in Gaiwan

If you want to take tea appreciation to the next level, then it’s time to prepare loose leaves in a gaiwan. This is a traditional Chinese tea cup that comes with a lid and saucer. It’s invented during the Ming Dynasty and used for infusion and/or drinking tea. See how we prepare a Xin Yang Mao Jian in the video below:

Read more about the amount of leaves, water temperature and steeping durations to apply.

Amount of leaves and leaf-to-water ratio

Generally, 2-3 grams of leaves are required for making green tea. The rule of thumb for the amount of water is 1:50 (in ml). So let’s say you use 3 grams of leaves, you should apply 150 ml of water. 150 ml isn’t a lot, but with this ratio you can steep the same loose leaves for about 3 sessions. If you don't want to steep multiple sessions than you can increase the leaf-to-water ratio to 1:150. So let's say you want to make a mug of tea then 3 gram would match 450 ml (15 oz) of water.

The optimal ratio could be a bit different though, depending on the teaware you use, the steeping duration you want to apply, and the amount of sessions you want to prepare with the same leaves. Therefore, start with the rule of thumb, and adjust to make it work for you.

Temperature for loose green tea brewing

Generally for fresh green tea, you want to avoid hot water at boiling temperature, as the green tea might become bitter. Let the water cool down slightly until it reaches a temperature between 80 to 90 degrees Celsius (175 to 195 F). This will bring the best flavors out of the leaves. More tightly rolled teas should be brewed with temperatures closer to 90 C, while loosely rolled and delicate leaves should be steeped at temperatures closer to 80 C.

If you don’t have the tools to measure water temperature, don’t worry. Making tea isn’t exact science! Let the water kettle lid open after cooking, and wait for 1 or 3 minutes to let the water reach 90 to 80 C, respectively.

Steeping time

This varies the most given the teaware you’ve at hand. When steeping in smaller teaware such as a gaiwan, you want to apply shorter brewing times. With such teaware, you can start experimenting with 1-3 minute steeps, depending on the tea type and water temperature you apply. For larger teapots and less leaves relative to the amount of water, you want to increase the brewing time to between 3-5 minutes.

Are you still following it? For your convenience we've summarized all the info in the image below for your first steep.

Where to buy green tea leaves?

So now you know a whole lot about the preparation, the question is where to buy green tea? It’s definitely becoming more available these days as supermarkets are often stocking loose tea. However, finding fresh green tea will be challenging. For that you’ll need to see if there’s specialty store in the neighborhood. If not, then browse for our selection of authentic Chinese green tea leaves.

Green tea extract and powder versus loose leaves for weight loss

Watch out for green tea extracts for weight loss purposes. They only allow you to lose lots of fluid that deceives you in shedding a few pounds in a week, which will be added back once you stop drinking. The negative side effect of those pills and concentrated extract in other forms can badly affect the health of your stomach and digestive system. That said, there are some high quality green tea powder available on the market, though they for enjoyment and should be consumed in moderation. Therefore, stick to pure and fresh green tea leaves. It isn’t just delicious and healthy, but it’s also safe and hard to over consume. Drinking loose leaves is thus a more responsible, delicious and sustainable green tea diet option.

May 18, 2016