How to Start a Tea Practice
At Living Tea we practice three brewing methods that suit different occasions and tea experiences. Each method has a different focus and will coax out certain qualities in these beautiful leaves.
BOWL TEA - Tea as Invitation into Nature
This method involves large-leaf teas brewed directly in the bowl. It’s the simplest of the methods, and a wonderful place to start a tea practice. As one progresses in the study of tea, it’s important to return to the humble beginning. By cultivating a “beginner’s mind,” we can continue to find new and fresh details in all our activities.
SIDEHANDLE BOWL TEA - Connection and Ceremony
This method allows you to brew a greater variety of teas because a filter is crafted into the claybody. Generally, sidehandle tea is ideal for sharing tea in a group of three or more people, using larger bowls of tea that require less exactitude in brewing.
GONGFU TEA- The Craft and Art of the Perfect Cup
Gongfu can be translated as “skilled discipline.” With this method, we use special purple clay pots and porcelain cups that soften the water and bring out the best qualities in the tea. We pay close attention to the quantity of leaf used, the temperature of the water, and the amount of time that the leaves steep. Gongfu Cha elevates the practice of tea to an art form as we seek to brew the perfect cup of tea.
• Use enough leaves to cover the bottom of the teapot while still allowing the bottom to be visible (3-5 grams) • If the tea is bitter, use less leaves, cooler water or steep for a shorter time. • The leaves can remain in the pot and be brewed for more than one day as long as they produce an aromatic and flavorful brew. We suggest using good quality clay teaware, which will produce better tea than metal brewing vessels.
• The first few steepings should be short: 3-6 seconds, gradually getting longer. Living teas can be steeped many times. Every tea is unique. If you listen closely, the tea will tell you how it wishes to be brewed.
• White Tea/Delicate Green Tea: 155-175 F- Shrimp Eyes. Tiny bubbles that resemble shrimp eyes rise to the surface.
• Green Tea: 175-180 F - Crab Eyes. Vertical streams of steam rise. If your green tea is bitter, bring the temp down.
• Oolong Tea: 180- 190 F - Fish Eyes. Larger bubbles rise to the surface with steam that rises in thick columns.
• Dark Teas: 195-205 F (Puerh, Red, Black and Aged Tea): Rope of Pearls. A steady stream of pearl-size bubbles rises to the surface with waves of small bubbles rushing horizontally. Very dark tea can be brewed with water just shy of a rolling boil (212 F).
• Fresh spring water is best as long as it is not too mineral rich, which can affect the texture of the tea. Feel free to reach out to us directly with questions.