Learn How to Brew Pu Erh Tea

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When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of tea it depends on just what you’re looking for and what you like best. When it comes to brewing Pu Erh tea, you’ll need to have just the right ingredients, and you’ll need to know the tricks of getting things just right, including preparing your entire tea service in the way that works best for you.

The Best Temperature to Brew Pu Erh Tea?

When it comes to brewing Pu Erh tea, one of the most important things is to make sure that you get it to the right temperature. Each type of tea, from white tea to oolong to black tea and especially Pu erh has a set temperature at which it reaches its optimum flavor. For Pu Erh tea, that temperature is 212◦F. Any higher than this and you will scorch the tea leaves. Any lower and you will not achieve maximum flavor potency. This precise temperature ensures that you get the absolute best cup of tea, every time.

How Many Times Can You Steep Pu Erh Tea?

When it comes to brewing your Pu Erh tea you want to make sure that you get the full flavor profile and that means steeping your tea leaves for the right amount of time. When you brew your tea, make sure you steep the leaves for approximately three to four minutes. That will allow you to get the profile that you’re looking for and to maximize the benefits of the tea.

If you’re looking to get more than one cup of tea out of a single set of leaves you absolutely can re-steep your leaves. You should note that each time you steep the leaves the flavor of the tea will be slightly different, which means you will only get one cup of tea that is the maximum flavor profile and then each one after will be slightly milder. It is recommended that you steep your leaves no more than two to three times.

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Pu-erh Beginner Brewing Guide

There are several different ways to brew Pu Erh tea and you should be familiar with each as you can become more comfortable with the one that is easiest for you and the one that brews the tea you want with the best possible flavor profile.

How to Prepare Ripe Cakes

The first method of preparing Pu Erh is as ripe cakes. This means that the leaves are aged and pressed into a cake form. You will need to break up the cake to remove one teaspoon of leaves from it (leaving the remainder intact) and then brew your tea.

  1. Fill your pan with fresh, filtered water and bring to a boil at 212◦F.
  2. Pour excess boiling water into a tea cup to heat the cup then discard the water.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of leaves to your teapot and pour in approximately 8-10 ounces of boiling water.
  4. Steep leaves for 5 minutes.
  5. Place a basket strainer over the cup and pour the tea through the strainer to keep out leaves.
  6. Remove the tea leaves from the pot before allowing the pot to sit any longer.

How to Prepare Raw Cakes

If you’re using raw Pu Erh cakes you will need to be a little more careful about how you prepare them. That’s because the raw cakes are more delicate than the ripe cakes. You will still want approximately 1 teaspoon of the cake but you will want to prepare it slightly differently.

  1. Fill your pan with fresh, filtered water and bring to a boil at 190◦F.
  2. Pour excess boiling water into a tea cup to heat the cup then discard the water.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of leaves to your teapot and pour in approximately 8-10 ounces of boiling water.
  4. Steep leaves for 3 minutes.
  5. Place a basket strainer over the cup and pour the tea through the strainer to keep out leaves.
  6. Remove the tea leaves from the pot before allowing the pot to sit any longer.

How to Brew Pu-Erh Sachets

The next method is to brew the Pu-Erh tea in a sachet. If you have sachets prepared you will brew your tea in much the same way as a ripe cake.

  1. Fill your pan with fresh, filtered water and bring to a boil at 212◦F.
  2. Pour excess boiling water into a tea cup to heat the cup then discard the water.
  3. Place the sachet in your teapot and pour in approximately 8 ounces of boiling water.
  4. Steep sachet for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove sachet and drink your tea.

How to Brew Loose Leaf Pu-Erh

If you are using loose leaf Pu-Erh you will definitely want to be careful about using just the right amount and also about getting all of the leaves out when you are finished steeping. Leaving the leaves in for too long will result in a poor flavor.

  1. Fill your pan with fresh, filtered water and bring to a boil at 212◦F.
  2. Pour excess boiling water into a tea cup to heat the cup then discard the water.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of loose leaves to your teapot and pour in approximately 8-10 ounces of boiling water.
  4. Steep leaves for 5 minutes.
  5. Place a basket strainer over the cup and pour the tea through the strainer to keep out leaves.
  6. Remove the tea leaves from the pot before allowing the pot to sit any longer.

Gaiwan Style Brewing

The final method of brewing Pu-Erh tea is called Gaiwan style. This method is excellent for giving the perfect flavor to the tea, and consists less of a method for brewing initially, but pertains to steeping the tea multiple times to get a new flavor.

  1. Fill your pan with fresh, filtered water and bring to a boil at 212◦F.
  2. Pour excess boiling water into a tea cup to heat the cup then discard the water.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of leaves to your Gaiwan and pour over approximately 8-10 ounces of boiling water to rinse the leaves.
  4. Pour over another 8-10 ounces of boiling water.
  5. Steep leaves for 10-20 seconds.
  6. Continue pouring water over and steeping as many times as you like, adding 5-10 seconds each time.
  7. Pour tea through a strainer into a glass pot then into individual cups.

Other Pu-Erh Brewing Tips

Now that you know the steps to brew Pu-Erh tea in several different ways, it’s time to take a look at some of the other important tips that are associated with the process. By following these tips you will be able to get a better brew and a better flavor each time that you drink your Pu-Erh tea or prepare it for others.

  1. Use the right amount of leaves. You want to make sure that you are using the correct ratio of water to tea leaves. Approximately one teaspoon for every 8-10 ounces of water is the best way. This will give you a good balance and allow you to extract the maximum flavor. As you get more familiar with brewing your Pu-Erh tea you may find a more precise balance that works for you and your flavor preference.
  2. Use high quality water. You want to make sure that you are using fresh, filtered or purified water. This will provide you with the perfect canvas for your Pu-Erh tea. If you do not have quality water you will find that it affects the way that the tea tastes. This is especially true if your water has been treated with chlorine of any kind or if you use distilled water to prepare it. Instead, use a purified water that will be more of a blank canvas.
  3. Use the right water temperature. There are specific temperatures that are advised for different types of tea and you want to be sure that you are using the right one for the type of tea you are preparing. For white or green tea or a young raw Pu-Erh tea you will want your water only heated to 170◦F to 180◦F. For oolong tea the temperature is generally between 180◦F-200◦F. Black tea is between 190◦F to 200◦F and aged raw or ripe Pu-Erh tea is heated to 212◦F.
  4. Steep for the right amount of time. Another important factor is how long you steep the tea for. You want to be sure that you are steeping your tea the right amount of time to get the perfect flavor. To start, this means steeping your Pu-Erh for approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on whether you are using raw or ripe cakes or loose leaves or sachets. Once you have tried this several times you will become more familiar with the flavor that you like best and the length of time you need to steep it for.
  5. Remove the tea leaves/sachet once your tea has steeped fully. Once the desired amount of time for steeping has passed make sure that you remove the tea leaves from the tea. If you leave the leaves for too long the tea will continue to steep and the flavor profile will change. This can result in overly strong or poorly flavored tea.
  6. Heat the water on the stove. Do not heat your water in the microwave as this will result in water that is not evenly heated. You could overheat or underheat your water, which will affect the overall flavor of the tea. It is impossible to properly mix water heated in the microwave to ensure even heating throughout.
  7. Test the temperature of your water. Do not allow the water to get too hot as this will cause your tea to scorch. If the water is too hot simply remove the lid and allow it to cool slightly until it reaches the desired temperature. Depending on how hot the water is and what temperature you require this may take several minutes or it may take very little time.
  8. Do not reheat water once it has been boiled. Reheating the water after you have boiled it will result in a different flavor profile. This is especially true if the water has been allowed to cool completely before being reheated. Use fresh water each time that you boil your tea and make sure to pour out any water that has cooled before you were able to use it.
  9. Find your perfect cup. Remember, all of the rules that have been explained here are to make a standard cup of Pu-Erh tea. It is always best for you to experiment with different options to find exactly the cup that is perfect for you. This may mean using slightly more or less tea, more or less water or more or less steeping time in order to get the right strength. Do not be afraid to use trial and error to get the balance you are looking for.

Summary and Conclusion

When it comes to preparing the perfect cup of tea you want to make sure that you are starting out with the standard rules. Before you try out different methods or attempt new ways to prepare your tea, make sure that you are trying it the way that it is meant to be brewed. That way, you can see what the standard is and you can work on improving it to your flavor profile from there. If you do not start with this base you may not have a good record of how you should adjust as you go to get the right cup.

Don’t be afraid to try out several different styles of preparation as well, as you will find that sachets, raw cakes, ripe cakes and loose leaves prepare your tea in slightly different ways each time.

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