Brewing tea should be easy. Even when brewing rare teas or checking quality of new harvests, we avoid extra steps or equipment that don’t directly enhance our understanding of the tea. For everyday brewing, we usually simplify even further, using a travel thermos or infuser mug for a self-contained steep. In fact, we insist on high quality tea for the simple fact that it’s easier to brew without bitterness. But when tasting new teas or simply perfecting our favorite brew, we always weigh our tea leaves, no matter how fussy or extraneous it may seem. Here are three good reasons to try adding this step to your own tea routine.
1. Teas vary greatly in density.
Teas come in all shapes and sizes, and the same weight can look totally different depending on the harvest date and crafting style of each individual tea. A tablespoon of white tea made with lightweight leaf buds probably weighs no more than two grams, while the same spoon filled with densely rolled oolong leaves might weigh six or seven grams. This is one reason for the popularity of bagged teas, which offer the convenience of pre-packed single servings.
Weighing tea leaves is especially important for new drinkers who are just learning the differences between different styles of tea, but even after many years of brewing and drinking a variety of styles, we still weigh our leaves for every tasting. Not only does this help us get to know the unique characteristics of each new tea, but it also helps us be consistent and compare each new brew to our standards for the style.
2. Replicate your best brews.
We always recommend experimenting with brewing techniques to get the best brew for you. While time and temperature may be easy to observe and estimate, serving sizes can be deceptive. Different brewing vessels provide different visual cues for leaf quantities, or the impulse to savor a rare batch can result in a light-handed serving. In any case, guessing at how much leaf to use will make it much more difficult to replicate good results.
The serving size of leaves is one of the easiest variables to keep consistent when experimenting with a new tea, since it is not affected by the environment, like temperature, and does not require such precise attention as steeping time. It’s also one of the easiest to adjust when brewing loose leaves, since it can be measured before the brewing process begins. Spending a brief moment to note the weight of the tea leaves will make it the easiest to replicate, as well, so you can get a great brew every time.
3. Get the most value from your tea.
Every tea drinker has their favorites, but in our own experience, we tend to brew our daily drink a bit stronger over time as we become accustomed to the flavor. It’s easy to assume that by brewing the same tea every day, we come to know exactly how much leaf is required, but the search for extra flavor intensity can lead us to add an extra pinch… and then another. Soon, our daily brew is so strong no one else can drink it, and the quarter pound of tea that used to last a month is barely keeping us stocked for a couple weeks.
Working a new tea or two into the rotation can help combat this flavor tolerance, but weighing the day’s serving also keeps our tea consumption to a reasonable rate. As an added bonus, we can be sure that each cup will be up to our flavor standards, and not cut short by a stingy serving.
Of course, not every tea drinker keeps a gram scale in the cupboard, and we don’t mean to suggest that weighing your leaves is a required step for a good cup of tea. But a small investment in a simple tool can help improve your brewing techniques, and even save you money in the long run.
Do you weigh your tea leaves? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!
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