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Easy Tea: How to Brew Puer Tea with Three Basic Household Items

What is the Easy Way to Brew Puer Tea?

For newcomers to the tea world, discovering the best way to brew puer tea can be a challenge. Especially when new tea drinkers often lack all of the equipment they see in tutorial articles and videos. However, even for regular tea drinkers, Puer tea brewing methods are often portrayed in an overly complicated light. With all manner of insider jargon, it is easy to feel lost in a sea of complicated terms and references. Did any of these tutorials consider maybe you don’t own a gaiwan? Or maybe don’t know what a gaiwan is? Can’t anyone make this simple?!

This article will cut through the complication and lay out an easy to use puer brewing method that requires only three basic household items (and your tea).

how to brew tea

One teapot. Two cups. Tea. And hot water.

What you will need:

  • teapot or other brewing vessel, such as a gaiwan [lidded bowl]
  • Cups, glasses, mugs, or any vessel to drink from (we recommend having at least two, one drinking cup and one receptacle cup for discarded water)
  • Hot water (at least ~ 90°C or 195°F, but preferably boiling water)
  • Tea (This is the easy tutorial, but if you desire to use a scale to measure we recommend roughly 1 gram of tea per 15mL of water, ex: 7.5 grams for 100 mL)

How to Brew Puer Tea

Step 1. Begin Boiling the Water

Tea Water Kettle

Boil water using whatever implements are convenient. In this tutorial we will be using an electric kettle

Begin to heat water with whatever implements are available. Bring the water to a rolling boil (100°C or 212°F) or to the temperature when bubbles are frequently breaking the surface of the water.(~95°C or ~200°F).

Step 2. Break the Tea Apart and Place it into the Pot

tea into the teapot

Pull the tea apart and place it into the teapot

Puer tea is often compressed into cakes or other forms. If the cake is pliable or easy to break apart by hand, tease the leaves apart and place them into the teapot. Allowing more surface area for your puer tea will lessen brewing times and allow for a more even steeping experience. If the puer is too tightly compressed, simply increase your rinse time and allow the puer tea to naturally open up.

As for measuring tea, if you have a scale, then measure out 1 gram for every 15ml of water in your vessel. If you do not have a scale, place enough dry leaf in your teapot to fill roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the vessel. If you are using a very large teapot and do not want to use that much leaf, you may alternatively use a smaller amount of leaf and increase the steeping times below by 20 seconds or more. Lastly, keep in mind that the dry leaf will expand upon brewing, so what may look like a small amount of tea is going to be plenty.

Step 3. Rinse the Tea

Rinse tea

Rinse the puer tea with boiling water

Rinse Puerh

Pour off the water from the rinse into the spare glass

Puer tea is often aged or produced in conditions which would benefit from a bit of rinsing. Rinsing your tea serves a dual purpose of washing the tea of any dust or debris and priming the leaves for steeping. In some cases, a puer tea might have been pressed many years ago. A rinse with boiling water will “wake up” the leaves and loosen them from their compressed state.

We recommended two glasses at beginning of the article. As we alluded to above, one of the goals of the rinse is to remove the excess dust and other undesirable elements. Therefore, the rinse water is poured into the receptacle cup and can be discarded.

Step 4.  Steep the Tea

Brew Puerh

Steep the tea with boiling water

Glass of Puerh Tea

The resulting second steep of the aged puer tea

Now the tea is primed and ready to be steeped. Pour the hot water into the vessel and allow it to steep very briefly (1-3 seconds) and pour it off into the glass. The tea is now ready to drink. Be careful of the hot temperature and enjoy!

Remove the Dregs

Unfiltered Tea

Fragments left in the cup

After finishing your first cup of (hopefully) delicious tea, you may notice that small bits and pieces of leaf are remaining in the glass. The remaining fragments of tea are not harmful, but can easily be poured off into the receptacle cup before preparing the next cup of tea. Using a filter or strainer is another solution.

Step 5. Continue the Tea Session and Make Adjustments

Tea Setup

The finished results and brewed leaf

As your session progresses, we recommend increasing the steep time 5 seconds or so for each steep (Example: If your first steep is 5 seconds, the 2nd steep should be around 10 seconds, and the 3rd steep around 15 seconds). Adjust the time using your own preferences of tea strength. If the tea is too weak, increase the amount of steep time. If the tea is too strong, use faster steeps or remove some of the leaf from the teapot until it is the desired strength. It may be helpful to take notes about the session and make adjustments, such as the amount of tea used or which steeping times produced the most desirable results.

After a few sessions of trial and error, compare the notes. Sooner or later brewing will become second nature.

Should the method in this tutorial produce unsatisfactory results, feel free to contact us in the comments section!

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