At Firepot, we take a fresh approach to steeping loose-leaf tea. Because tea is an art, not a science, we strive to impart an understanding of tea, water and heat to empower you to steep from a place of knowing and intuition rather than relying on recipes, metrics and tools.
We understand… it's easy to become overwhelmed by temperatures, steep times and how much of what kind of tea exactly to use. Not to mention, deciphering between Iron Goddess of Mercy, Shou Puerh and GABA oolong can be daunting!
It is time that tea lovers adopt a more organic approach and allow the journey to become the destination.
Here's the secret: tea is as sublimely simple as leaves and water! For millennia, people have been enjoying peace, clarity, focus and health in a cup of tea by simply pouring water over a few tea leaves. The magic is in the leaf; the details of time, temperature and weight all come with practice. Start with this simple knowledge and you will be well on your way.
Allow us to lead you down the garden path...Just for a moment, put away the directions, measuring tools, timers and devices, ie control! Through experimentation, you will discover the freedom in your own natural ability to confidently pour a perfect cup--the one that feeds your soul and allows you to experience and share the sublime peace, beauty and love in the leaf!
1. The Journey is the Destination
Start like Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, who, according to legend, discovered tea when a few leaves fell from a tea tree into his cup 5,000 years ago. In that moment, he fell in love with the way tea made him feel and shared it with all of his people.
Start with a pinch or two, a small handful perhaps, of tea leaves in your cup or pot. Add hot water. Sip your tea and just notice. Is it too strong? If so, add more water or fewer leaves and maybe decrease the temperature of your water. Is it too weak? Try adding a few more leaves, adding more heat to your water to extract more essence from the leaf, or letting the leaves steep longer. Pleasure is the point of tea, so there is no right way other than what pleases you!
2. Embrace Flexibility
When it comes to tea, there is no formula that works for everyone. Directions can be a useful place to start, but each person has their own preferences that cannot be dictated by a list of instructions. Furthermore, water quality and room temperature vary wildly from place to place. If you live in Alaska, you will have a completely different experience with the same tea as someone steeping it in Florida using the same parameters. The tea ware, the environment, even your company - it all affects the experience of tea.
Rarely in life does one method work for all. So, embrace flexibility. Let the methods and metrics be beacons to guide you on your path, not the path itself.
3. Follow Your Intuition
“Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” - Madeleine L'Engle
Because change is the only constant in life, it is not wise to lean too much on tools. Rather, hone your instincts and your senses so that you become skilled and self-reliant. Let tea teach you this lesson as you cultivate awareness through steeping and sipping.
With each cup, take note of what can be improved. Is your tea too bitter? Try reducing the water temperature. Is your tea too weak? Increase the quantity of tea leaves or the temperature of the water. Trust yourself as you become more aligned with your preferences and ultimately yourself.
Consider a tea journal. Making notes as you go can lead you to tea nirvana and you never know what epiphanies might present themselves in a cup.
4. Waste Not, Want Not
It is heartbreaking to any tea lover to see tea leaves go to waste. Most standard teabags are made to be used just once, but when you graduate to loose-leaf teas, you will come to discover that most teas are made to be steeped many times. The first cup is generally light, as the water begins to open up the leaf. The second cup has more strength as the leaves have had some time to begin to express themselves more fully.
Depending on three factors: 1) The character of the tea, 2) How long you steep the leaves each time, 3) Whether you use a high or low tea: water ratio, you will find the third and consecutive steeping to be unique in strength, flavor and experience. If you are short on time or tolerance, save the leaves from your morning tea to be enjoyed in the afternoon or evening. Even the most extraordinary tea, when steeped to its full potential, is an affordable luxury that is worth, in experience and health, more than its weight in gold!
The Moral of the Story:
Let go. Surrender to the flow! Take that first step into the unknown. The world of tea has no hard and fast rules- herein lies its beauty; it is what you make it. Close your eyes, trust your intuition and choose whichever tea speaks to you! Have fun with this! There is no right or wrong. Then, begin to discover the joy of the journey. Just you, an exquisite tea, a cup, perhaps a teapot and a kettle or thermos of hot water is all you need to drop into a sublime space of peace and love. Before long, you’ll find yourself craving this daily ritual. You’ll discover tea’s healing potential as well as its ability to lift mood and promote overall body wellness.
To learn more about steeping tea the Firepot way, read The Agony of the Leaf: Open Vessel Steeping.