|The Science of Great Flavor
Proper Measure of Tea Yields a Perfect Brew
|I've often heard people comment on how they really don't like tea because it tastes like weakly
flavored water. It seems obvious they have either improperly prepared it themselves, or were
served a cup of tea that hadn't been steeped long enough, or possibly failed to use enough
tea for the volume of water.
It's a shame really, because I know how truly
wonderful a properly prepared cup of tea can
They are missing out on, and unknowingly
depriving themselves of a remarkable, healthy
beverage without bothering to find out why
the flavor was diluted, and giving it another
try, only with the proper guidance this time
It's even more of a shame because these
same people will go back to paying an arm
and a leg for pricey coffee, soda, and energy
drinks, when instead they could have a truly
delicious, quality cup of tea that is less
expensive and so much healthier.
|Tea Yield and Cost Per Cup
|The average yield for a quarter pound of tea is about 50 cups (one pound
equals about 200 six ounce cups), depending on the type of tea and indiv-
idual brewing methods.
But if the tea you're brewing is a variety with multiple infusions such as white
teas, green teas, jasmine, and most oolongs, you can double or even triple
the number of infusions to 100 to 150 six ounce servings from a quarter
pound, to about 600 servings from one pound of loose tea.
It's said to take more than 10,000 handpicked buds to make just 2.2 pounds of Bai Hao Yin
Zhen traditional budset white tea (or Silver Needle), making it one of the most expensive teas
to buy at around $70 to $90 a pound. Yet it costs a mere 11-13 cents....that's right, just a little
more than a dime a cup, with up to 600 infusions from one pound of tea.
Now tell me, when was the last time you paid a dime for a cup of anything, never mind a healthy,
delicious beverage that offers everything you get from a cup of tea? Talk about getting your
money's worth! So let's take a look at the science behind the measurements and tea yield
figures I've given you.
|The Food Pioneers Behind the Science of Tea
| The one teaspoon of loose tea per six ounces of water that is still in
use today comes from the 1920s when early food pioneers set out to
find the perfect ratio of water to leaf for brewing the tastiest, optimum
cup of tea. Their end goal was to find the right combination for coffee,
loose tea, and tea bags, with the large, name-brand packaged tea
companies seeking the same info for their bagged tea, with the end
goal optimum taste for all.
The scientists eventually arrived at two level tablespoons of ground
coffee, and one teaspoon of leaf tea per cup (and between 1.8 and 2.2
grams of CTC (cut-tear-curl tea per tea bag), using common measuring
Their conclusion was that two grams of leaf tea (one teaspoon) per six ounces of water
yielded the best flavor. They also found that leaf teas (and ground coffee) absorbs 5 1/2
ounces out of every six ounces of brewing water. This worked out perfectly because dur-
ing that period in time the standard teacup (developed in 1700s England) held 5.5 ounces
of liquid (6 ounces total).
Most of us tea drinkers are dedicated to
our beverage of choice but somehow I
doubt that we are such diehards as to
worry about verifying our tea to the nth
degree to achieve total flavor perfection.
With that in mind I won't go any further
into the complicated science of it all and
how the food scientists arrived at their
figures (if you have a question, though,
feel free to ask on our contact and
But there are a couple of other things
you should consider when brewing your
cup of tea. The "teaspoon per cup" measure was based on a particular size leaf, which is
similar in size and weight such as Assam Orange Pekoe, Keemun Congou, Ceylon Broken
Orange Pekoe, Gunpowder, Tieguanyin Oolong, and most Darjeelings.
So, you need to be aware of the type of tea you are brewing, and the size and bulkiness
of the leaf. For oolong teas, early spring flush green teas, and black tippy teas that will
yield numerous infusions, increase tea to one and one-half teaspoons.
The other consideration is with heavier, bulkier teas such as Formosa oolongs, basket fired
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|green teas, Ceylon FOP, Tippy Yunnan, large leaf Assam, and Lapsang Souchong or Russian Caravan. Because these
teas are heavier and bulkier by volume than the test teas used, a larger amount of tea should be used when brewing.
On the other side of the equation, if the tea you are brewing is smaller, with less volume than the test teas, such as
CTC (cut-tear-curl) teas, Assam, Keemun Hao Ya A black tea or small leaf Ceylon, you should use less tea.
One last thing to consider is the cup size. The size used for testing was a standard six ounce capacity teacup. I don't
know about your house, but at ours we use mugs-big, heavy stoneware mugs that hold a good
8 or 9 ounces. So, obviously, the bigger the mug, the more it holds, so you need to adjust the
amount of tea being used proportionately.
The easiest and most practical advice I can give you, though, is to do what I do and use your own
taste buds as a guide. Use the tips I've given you as a starting point and then just experiment
until you find the perfect balance of flavor.
And, don't forget to make notes along the way on the variety of tea, how much of both tea and
water you are using, and steeping times so you can recreate just that perfect combination again.
And then once you find it, just sit back and savor the flavor. Enjoy.
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