How To Brew Oolong Tea

by Andrew Kulakov

Andrew shares his tip on how to brew oolong tea...

I drink loose leafs for about 6 years and I've never had good results for my taste with using recommended amounts of leaf. I use much less, but that depends on the tea.

For green oolongs especially I can't stand using too much leaf. I use about 1.5-2 spoons (I don't measure just drag it out with a chopstick until it looks about right) to a 3 cup pot.

For dark oolongs it's a different matter, I could use a bit more. This depends very much on your taste and on whether you drink the tea with some kind of food.

I don't like the taste of water that was cooled down from a boil. I have a pot now that's got a dark enamel on the inside, therefore I
can't see if bubbles are forming and how big they are, therefore what I do is this: I wash my hands and when I think the water may be ready, I hold my hand over the kettle and feel if the steam rising is hot enough. I find this way of measuring to be most practical and precise for me.

When I used an enamel kettle on an electric heater, it made the tea taste different in a way that I don't like so I stopped doing that. I'm afraid that may be an issue for me with electric kettles, but many other people use them without problems.

Try if you can feel a difference when you stop water before boiling.

As for a zisha clay 'gongfu' tea pot, the idea is to use so much leaf that it will unfurl to fill whole or almost whole volume . Naturally this means using much more leaf.

Get a really tiny gaiwan or a gong-fu pot and put about 1/4 to 1/3 volume of dry leaf; again this depends on how big the leaves are and how firmly they will pack, if they are very loose then you can even fill half the volume.

When it's brewed, it will expand to fill most of the pot. Then do a series of steeps, around 6 to 8, starting with a 30-45 second steep and then gradually increasing the time.

When I tried higher grade teas I found that they are much more reliable. They are always great and it's hard to mess it up, even if you do something wrong it gets only a little worse, not much worse.

Medium range teas are at times almost perfect but when the temp is a bit off, or when they cool off in a few minutes, they quickly become ordinary or plain bad. I'm never really sure I'll get the next brew right.

Other tangential (seemingly) things can be as important, though. Like the water you use, the tea pot, whether you wash it after use
including the lid, preheating the pot can be very effective...

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Brewing Tieguanyin Tea - Gaiwan Versus Gongfu Style

by Julian

What is the best way to brew Anxi Tieguanyin tea (Iron Goddess)? I check out my understanding with Danica...

Not all oolong tea should be brewed gongfu style. Some experts recommend gaiwan (porcelain) for Tieguanyin tea. However, almost everyone recommends gongfu style (claypots) for Wuyi and Phoenix Dangcong tea.

Harder vessels such as glasses and porcelain distributes heat faster. It promotes the lighter, more fragrant elements.

This suits Tiegunyin tea better. It is more floral and fragrant. It is sometimes called the Champagne as oolong.

Softer vessels such as Yixing teapots distributes heat slower. It promotes the heavier elements. So it is better suited for the rocky aftertaste of an Wuyi Rock tea?

When I pop the question to Danica, she gives it a twist in her reply ...

According to Danica, she has always preferred gaiwan for Tieguanyin tea and the greener oolongs.

However, she has a nice Yixing pot that is made from more highly roasted hong ni clay.

The word on the street is that for Tieguanyin tea and more floral oolongs a hard zhu ni clay is the best vessel for brewing, but these are extremely expensive and hard to find.

My conclusion? Use a hard vessel (porcelain or glasses) for the Iron Goddess tea, or any other your greener oolong teas.

If you are brewing gongfu style, pick a more roasted pot.

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Jan 31, 2008
Interesting encounter
by: Anonymous

Bookmarked your site. A bag of Tieguanyin tea purchased from Shiung Yu Tea House in Hong Kong led me to this website.

Jan 31, 2008
Thank you
by: Julian

Sure, really appreciate it. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to hear from you more!

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Tetsubin Water for Brewing Oolong Tea?

by Boris

Julian, you say in your site one can use tetsubin boiled water to brew oolong tea. Look at this page:

The tetsubin is meant for boiling water. Using the boiled water from tetsubin and brew tea, it obviously changes the taste of tea. The effect is beyond the reach of your imagination and not to mention beyond the purple clay. It is important to know the type of tea which the cast iron kettle is good for. There are a few groups of tea that cast iron kettle cannot get along.

Tetsubin is suitable for green tea, ripe puerh, yellow tea, white tea and flower tea, yet it is not suitable for oolong, young raw pu-erh and black tea. When it is used for the right category of tea, it makes the taste mellower and sweeter. If it is used for the wrong category of tea such as oolong, the flavor becomes flat.

Tetsubin changes the taste of water because of the activated layer of iron. After casting, Iron kettle is baked in charcoal fire that reduces Fe3+ into Fe2+. The reduced iron Fe2+ actively interacts with the mineral and water and changes the size of clusters. The size of cluster becomes smaller and increase the reaction between minerals in water and substances in tea such as poly phenol.

From the sensery point of view, tetsubin improve the flavor, although it a little reduce aroma. Using tetsubin treated water, you feel more taste at your throat. This effect is a little similar to purple clay. However tetsubin water provide a little more aroma intensity. Based on our experiment, the combining tetsubin boiled water with purple clay teapot gives the best taste for green tea, flower tea and puerh ripe tea.



I don't think there is contradiction with what I say, bearing in mind there are many different types of oolong tea, ranging from a green Pouchong or Iron Goddess to a heavily oxidised/roasted Wuyi.

Here is an extract from my webpage:

Cast iron kettles produce water that is heavy with more body. It should be used for the heavily oxidised teas such as Wuyi oolongs, red tea, black tea and the old pu-erh tea.


I hope this helps.


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Roast Oolong Tea At Home

by John
(New York)

My question: is it possible to roast one's own Tieguanyin or other oolong tea at home? I love to experiment with younger oolongs, but don't have an knowledge on secondary baking or pan roasting. Thanks for your reply!

Thanks for your excellent site! It is really a great resource for English-language speakers!

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Oct 06, 2007
Julian's reply
by: Julian

There are 3 types of oolong tea roastings. I am not entirely sure which one you are talking about.

1. Pan-frying aims to kill enzymes and stop oxidation process.

2. Oven-baking aims to improve the favours.

This baking stage is a formative stage, its importance comes after leaf selection and brusing.

Too high a temparature causes too much low boiling favours to dissipate.

Too low temperature causes grassy favours to stay put and hide away the high boiling favours.

So it is usually done at low temperature for an extended period of time.

Both pan-frying and oven-baking require technical skills and are seldom DIY.

3. Then the third which is DIY is re-roasting.

It is done when after storing oolong tea or red tea for a long time, after its taste and has gone stale or flat.

Some people oven their teas at 100 to 150 degree Celsius (200 to 300 Farenheits) until the tea aroma re-emerges ... it is said to improve favours.

If you are aging an oolong tea (such as a Wuyi or Tieguanyin), it is a good idea to re-roast from time to time.

It does improve its quality.

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Can I let the wet tea leaves sit around after the 1st or 2nd infusion for a later infusion?

by Donna

I like to drink fresh hot brewed Oolong tea, but can only drink maybe 2 cups in one sitting in the morning. After the first 2 infusions in the morning, I like to have another cup or two in the evening.

Can I let the wet tea leaves that I brewed & decanted in the morning sit around all day for a later infusion?

Should I cover them or put them in the fridge?

What if the leaves dry out in between the morning infusion and evening infusion?

Is there a danger of bacteria growing if I let the wet leaves sit out all day?

Thx so much! Love your products, your website, newsletters and customer service! AAA+++++



Donna, thank you for your support too!

Oolong tea is semi-oxidized, so it is less sensitive to atmosphere degradation.

It is fine to let the wet leaves sit around in the same day. It will take several days for bacteria to grow, so same day is okay.

I also sometimes leave green tea for half day or so before drinking. There is some quality loss, but for an everyday tea it is okay.

After all we have to get on with our lives somewhat and fit tea around it.

I hope this helps.


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Jun 04, 2009
by: Ian

I would say the same, it goes for all teas I think that the more oxidised it is to start with the less quickly it loses flavour. I don't save green tea over the day myself and similarly, if I have some Green Oolong such as Tie Guan Yin then I probably wouldn't leave that either because I like it so much. I frequently leave dark oolongs, black teas and Darjeeling over the day, and I often even leave Puerh until the next day to re-brew. Interestingly with the Puerh, it brews darker the second day. Again though, if I had a very very good Puerh I would want to make the most of it while it's fresh.

Another tip is to leave the tea in water as it reacts less quickly and so retains more flavour. A cm of cold water on the leaves is what I sometimes do if I want to re-brew later on.

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