Wild & Bare

Chinese Artisan Teas | Organic Tea | Chinese Green Tea

A perfect cup of oolong? If possible, here’s how

Is there such a thing as a perfect cup of tea? Claims of perfection are made glibly, but experience shows that “perfect” comes along about as often as “wonderful.” Usually some little wrinkle of imperfection pops up to taint what otherwise is entirely admirable. Mr. Wonderful turns out to be Mr. Forgetful. The Perfect Tea turns out to have a bitter aftertaste. So it goes.

Still, tea enthusiasts crave excellence in their tea, so failure never seems to frustrate for long the perpetual mission to create a perfect cup of tea. In a perfect world, such persistence would be rewarded. Alas…

Anyway, this much is clear: If tea brewing perfection is ever achieved, it will begin with a perfect tea. For purposes of discussion, then, just how would a person brew a perfect cup of, say, oolong tea?

The person would start by selecting a tea with an excellent pedigree like, say, Imperial Mt. Wudong Honey Orchid Phoenix Dancong Oolong. The Chinese tea is available from such quality tea supply houses as Wild & Bare Co. It has a distinguished lineage as long as its name: The naturally scented tea dates back 900 years to the Song Dynasty when it was given in tribute.

So, starting with this truly superior oolong tea that is potentially perfect, the next step is to use filtered cold water. Only a fool would strive for perfect tea using tap water or once-boiled water. A person might as well use muddy water from the creek. Fully oxidized, palatable and clean water is the basis for delicious tea.

What kind of brewing vessel should be used? Good question, because one tea pot is not just like another tea pot. Just as water and teas are not created equally, some tea pots are superior to others. The ideal brewing utensil for Honey Orchid Phoenix tea is a Yixing tea pot.

Following the tea maker’s directions is vital to reaching perfection. For example, if the tea company recommends six ounces of water per one tablespoon of loose leaf tea (tea bags don’t figure in a “perfect” formula), then a tablespoon and a half of tea is foolhardy. Unless proven otherwise, always assume the tea maker knows what he is talking about.

The Honey Orchid Phoenix tea should be brewed in water just under the boiling point, so boil the water and then let it cool for a few seconds. Combine tea and water. The initial steep should last 45 seconds. (Perfect brews require thermometers and timers. No guesswork allowed.)

Finally, pour the brewed Chinese oolong tea gently into a thin, preferably porcelain, cup, savor the mix of fruity flavors rising from the brew, sip and enjoy. A second infusion of the leaves should produce another richly flavored cup.

That’s it. Perfection in a cup. If it’s anything less, blame yourself. The directions were perfect.