By Bruce Richardson
Follow these tips to brew the perfect pot of oolong tea.
Oolong teas should always be given a quick rinse with hot water before infusing. This awakens the leaves and prepares them for the first of several infusions. Balled oolongs will take some time to open. Both dark and balled oolongs may be infused up to seven times, with each infusion offering different nuances.
Clay, porcelain, or cast-iron pots are preferred for steeping. True oolong devotees will want to explore the Gongfu (Kung fu) method of infusing and drinking exceptional oolongs. The Gongfu tea service, complete with Yixing pots and numerous accoutrements, was developed exclusively for the enjoyment of these aromatic and complex teas.
Fill the kettle with filtered cold water, and heat to less than a boil, 190° to 210°.
Warm a small teapot with hot tap water.
Discard the water in the teapot.
Place 1 tablespoon of dry tea per cup of water directly in the teapot or infuser basket.
Rinse the tea by covering the leaves with fresh hot water and pouring off the liquor immediately. This awakens the leaves for infusing.
Add water, and steep for 1 to 3 minutes, according to taste. Pour immediately into cups, and decant any leftover liquor.
Bruce Richardson is the owner of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas and the author of The New Tea Companion. Read his blog at theteamaestro.blogspot.com.