Green Infusion

George Chang

The two basic methods for infusing Chinese green tea require water at a temperature well below boiling. Water that is too hot will produce bitter tea. The glass method is simple and spectacular, allowing the drinker to watch the green buds unfold: Rinse a glass tumbler with hot water from the tap; place a tablespoon or so of tea in the glass, and add spring water heated to less than150° F (it should feel just warmer than body temperature). Infuse for at least five minutes, until most of the leaves have sunk to the bottom and the liquid has turned green. Add more warm water when two-thirds of the tea has been drunk—the tea keeps its flavor for only two or three infusions.

The second method is more precise: Place a similar proportion of tea in a zhong (lidded Chinese porcelain cup), fill with warm water (as above), cover, and infuse for three minutes or more. Using the lid to keep the leaves from spilling out, pour all the tea out into small cups for drinking. The second and third infusions may be steeped for a longer time.