Tea Making: Western Style vs. Chinese Style October 24 2013
The Western style of brewing tea denotes using a large teapot or infuser and steeping tea leaves for an extended period of time – usually a one-time process. Because the tea is steeped for a longer period of time, a smaller amount of tea is typically needed and the leaves are usually discarded after one or two steepings. This style of brewing is suitable for those who are making tea at work, on the go, or like to drink tea in large quantities. Tea made using this style is usually drunk in larger cups (as opposed to small, Asian-style tea cups), and sugar or milk is sometimes added to meet taste preferences of Western drinkers.
Eastern style brewing, also known as Chinese or Asian style, consists of using a small teapot or gaiwan (about 5 - 8oz) and infusing whole leaf tea multiple times in short durations. Depending on the style of leaf, 1/4 to 1/3 of the tea vessel is usually filled with dry leaves and after brewing, the tea is usually drunk in smaller cups with no added ingredients. Due to the larger amount of tea used and short steeping time, this method provides for a richer taste than the Western style of brewing and eliminates any bitterness that may be caused by steeping for a longer duration. When using the Eastern method, tea drinkers may also notice that each consecutive infusion reveals distinct flavors; a phenomenon especially evident when brewing higher quality teas. Chinese style brewing is suitable for those who really want to appreciate the flavor and health benefits (no added ingredients) of premium tea. When compared with the Western Style, Eastern brewing takes a bit more time, giving tea drinkers a great opportunity to relax in peace by oneself or enjoy the company of others. In China and Taiwan, Afternoon Tea (下午茶）is very popular and the tea is usually accompanied by various snacks or desserts.
For our tea, we recommend using the Eastern style of brewing. Most quality teas can be steeped four to eight times and will even change in flavor and character with each infusion. Moreover, this method gives tea drinkers the time to relax in peace or spend quality time with friends and family. If you have never experienced the tradition of Asian-style tea making before, you will be delightfully surprised at just how relaxing and pleasurable it can be.