Tea Brewing Tips for a Better Cuppa

brewing basics tea 101 tea basics tea brewing tea brewing guide

Keys to better tea

  • Water quality and temperature play a major role.

  • Always empty your teapot so the tea doesn't keep steeping

  • Porcelain teapots are neutral in flavour and great at retaining heat.

  • For bitter tea, lower the water temperature and brew for less time.

Understanding the keys

 Water is the mother of tea, a teapot its father, and fire the teacher.  

-Chinese proverb


This proverb sums it up so well that we’ll use it as the basis of this guide. This guide is not meant to be technical. It will give you easy ideas to work with when you brew your next cup. The way you already brew your tea can serve as the baseline to start applying these ideas for a better cup of tea. 

Why is water called the “mother of tea”?

They say that good water can make a low-quality tea better and that bad water can ruin a great tea. After all, when you brew a cup of tea, 98.5% of that cup is water. 

So, what can we do to ensure good water quality?

The first thing to do is taste your tap water. Taste it like you were tasting wine or whiskey. Take note of standout flavours. If you don’t notice anything, you could also do a taste comparison with bottled or filtered water. If your tap water tastes neutral, then congrats to you… Chuck that water in the kettle and get brewing!

What if my tap water tastes like metal or chlorine?

The simple answer to this is to either filter your water or use bottled water. The tap water here at Little Dragon Tea is both metallic and chlorinated. We now use a tabletop filter that really does the trick.

Does my teapot really matter?

In short, yes. There are two main considerations when choosing a brewing vessel – capacity and material.
  • Capacity – Dry leaves will absorb water. As a result, the wet leaves will take up more space in your pot. If the leaves don’t have room to “breathe” then they won’t release their full potential into your cup. This is why infuser balls don’t work well, but infuser baskets do.

  • Material – The best materials for beginner brewing are either glass or porcelain. Both are neutral, meaning they won’t add (or subtract) flavour from our leaves. We recommend porcelain as it is better at retaining heat. There are other options out there like clay pots and stoneware. We will discuss those in another article.

PRO TIP – We recommend brewing in a Gong Fu style. Simply put, use a small teapot with more leaves. Why? Two reasons:

  • Economics – even though you might use more tea, your brew time is shorter. You also get many more infusions so really you're stretching the use of the leaves. Most of our teas yield five to eight brews.

  • Enhanced tasting experience – Gong Fu brewing allows a richer flavour. Different flavours reveal themselves across the infusions. Floral notes burn off in early infusions while base notes reveal themselves over time.

Why is fire called “the teacher”?

Have you ever had a tea so bitter, you couldn’t even drink it? It might have been a bag of green tea that you poured over with boiling water. We’re not judging here. This is a safe space. Fire is all about temperature and time. As we mentioned, high notes burn off quickly and easily. So, the hotter the boil, the faster those notes burn off. The longer the boil, the more of the base notes that burn off as well. This is true for all tea, whole leaf or (sigh) bagged. If you are brewing a bagged tea, that tea is made of chopped tea dust. Again, no judgement (maybe a little bit of judgement) but bagged tea will have heaps of surface area. So the goodness of that tea will all burn right off if the water is too hot or if you steep for too long.
Fire is the teacher because adjusting water temperature (or controlling the fire) is the cornerstone to a better brew. If your kettle doesn’t allow you to adjust the temperature, let the boiled water rest for 2-3 minutes and you’ll be sweet. Or cut the water with room temp water for a faster cool down.
This guide is a starting point only. We will go into further detail about all these topics in the future. If you have questions, please call, message, or email us. We'd love to help you brew a better cup.