Pu-erh tea (also called Puer or Puerh) is earthy, aromatic, and full of health benefits. Chinese tea drinkers have cherished Pu-erh tea for thousands of years for its wellness qualities. Here’s a guide on how to steep Pu-erh tea. It’s super easy, and you’ll love this delicious dark drink!
5-Steps to Steep Pu-erh Tea
1. Heat the right water in the right way
Pu-erh tea is best steeped with fully boiled water, whether using loose-leaf tea or Pu-erh in cake form.
The best tea is steeped using spring water. There are multiple ways to heat water; I love my electric kettle because I can bring water to a full boil within a few minutes (no more burnt tea kettles).
Then, pour the boiling water into your teapot. Side note: Have you heard of Gaiwan? Traditional Chinese tea experts love using Gaiwan, a small cup with a lid and no handle to brew tea. Unless you have Teflon fingers or are into pain endurance competitions 😩 (like one of those Japanese TV shows), I don’t recommend it.
2. Prepare the tea
Whether your Pu-erh tea is in loose-leaf form or a solid cake, you’ll need to prepare it properly. How much tea leaves or how big of a piece (from cake) to use depends on how strong you like your tea.
If you are using Puerh cake, cut off a small piece. I recommend 1-inch by 1-inch steeping in 24 ounces of fully boiling water. This gives you 3 cups of tea (8-oz cups).
If you use loose-leaf Puerh, I recommend 2 to 4 grams of leaves, depending on how strong you like your tea.
For easy measurement, 3 grams of tea leaves is equivalent to one teaspoon.
Three grams of tea leaves is all I need for my entire day, as I re-steep the leaves for each brew.
3. First Steep: Rinse the Leaves
Did you know that in Chinese tea culture, the first steep is for your enemies? You don’t want to drink this “dirty” brew.
So rinse your tea leaves with a quick bath! Pour in the hot water and then drain immediately. The idea is two-fold:
- Cleanse the tea leaves
- Refresh the tea leaves
Why is this cleansing step important? Because the tea leaves have been dormant for years, and the quick bath is like a wake-up call. For humans, a cold shower wakes us up fastest. For tea leaves, it’s a quick hot bath.
This rinsing step opens up the tea leaves, releasing their fresher, earthier aroma.
4. Pour your Pu-erh
After you’ve awakened the tea leaves, it’s time to enjoy a fresh Pu-erh. How long do you steep your tea? The length of each steep depends on how strong you like it.
The stronger the tea, the longer the steep. It also depends on the round of steeping you’re at.
For the first two brews, a shorter steeping time is better because the leaves are fresher. In later brews, as the strength of tea has diminished, it will require longer steeping time.
Personally, I steep my first pot for about 1 minute, judging by the color of the tea. Here’s a tea tip:
I love using a glass teapot so I can see the color of the tea soup, which helps me see the strength I like, and add a visual enhancement for my tea experience.
As the day progresses, I steep each brew longer, from 3 to 5 minutes. Another tea tip:
Make sure you pour out each brewing from the teapot, so that you can re-steep subsequnent rounds. I pour the tea from each brew into my mug, the rest into a thermost.
When I need more tea, I add fully boiled water into my teapot for a fresh brew. That way, each brew is fresh, without excess steeping left in the teapot.
Want to explore why Pu-erh tea has such a cult following around the world? Here’s a good read to go with your new drink!
Enjoy your Pu-erh tea. Happy sipping!