Try this experiment. meter out a 1 litre pot of water. now meter out 18-20 grams of loose green tea. what you brew (if you attempt it) will be flat-out undrinkable.
There has GOT to be something better than the ISO standard here.
I just tried to do this again with a green lower grade Xinyang Maojian and it tasted like the over-steeped dreck conjured up in an airport coffee chains platitude scrawled cardboard cups. the cup was rich, but the astringency was like trying to drink a cup of drywall. It was utterly wasteful for anything more than just testing and the comical amount of tea I used to attempt this left me with a sense of remorse. The tea I made sat tangibly heavy in my stomach.
It is a standard, and I guess I never stopped to consider what a standard means and thats what this standard does a particularly great job of doing. Yes, Starbucks adheres to this standard and if you buy a venti will gladly (sometimes reluctantly) give you four tea bags in the cup but for the love of god yank them out after a minute or two at most lest youre looking to start up your own tannery in the terminal. Its quite strange to think of a standard as something you shouldn't make a habit of.
> This standard is not meant to define the proper method for brewing tea intended for general consumption, but rather to document a tea brewing procedure where meaningful sensory comparisons can be made. An example of such a test would be a taste-test to establish which blend of teas to choose for a particular brand or basic label in order to maintain a consistent tasting brewed drink from harvest to harvest.
On the other hand, it's very strange to me that the type of tea is not specified. Pouring boiling water over anything other than black tea typically destroys the aroma completely, and green tea in particular turns bitter and extremely taninnous. Also, 6 minutes of infusion sounds extreme for green or oolong or white tea.
For green tea, the nicest taste I've gotten by far is from very short brews with medium temperature (~80C) water with large quantities of tea, drinking 2-4 infusions from the same leaves. I've never measured the quantity in grams, but after the tea expands, it would typically fill the brewing pot.
The so-called gong fu method of preparation.
Average where? The most standard Ikea cup  that I can see in all the offices around here is 8oz, which is around 230ml. Personally, I drink coffee from that, but for tea, I always use some of the 10oz cups, which is more along the line of 300ml. A tea bag for 300ml is perfectly acceptable in my mind.
I've never seen anyone drink a teabag out of an espresso cup. You can, but it's non standard.
That cup cited is four ounces, an espresso is one ounce.
I primarily want to say how much I like the parent comment's writing. It is very evocative — "the tea sat tangibly in my stomach", eg, is the sort of description I'd expect in a well-written novel. Kudos nimbius.
Separately, I fully agree w/ the above point about a 2:100 ratio being well too much. The tea shop from which I buy generally recommends ~2g loose for a 175ml cup, but I still find this to be too strong at anything except a minimal brewing time. I tend to use about 1g/cup, ie a bit over 0.5% by weight.
> meter out a 1 litre pot of water. now meter out 18-20 grams of loose green tea. what you brew (if you attempt it) will be flat-out undrinkable.
You've ignored the maximum size of the pot.
> If a large pot is used, it should hold a maximum of 310 ml (±8 ml) and must weigh 200 g (±10 g).
> If a small pot is used, it should hold a maximum of 150 ml (±4 ml) and must weigh 118 g (±10 g).
Professional tasters have to suck the tea onto their tongues from a spoon, taste, then spit out the tea. See for instance this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9BoEfwQiJc
And, somewhat more complete and well defined than the wikipedia summary.
N.B. the PDF above references bsonline.techindex.co.uk, but that domain seems to have lapsed. The current BSI and ISO standards require purchase, and can't be linked to directly (that I can find).
I like coffee myself. I noticed that I usually prefer drip coffee, but there was a lot of inconsistency in how good my drip coffee was. So I talked to people, but mostly read people explaining what variables affect the taste of coffee.
I learned that what I don’t like is something that coffee lovers usually like. Taste sometimes described as “strong”, with a certain level of bitterness. I like my coffee with the least bitterness possible.
So I read that light roasted beans create a less bitter coffee, great one variable solved.
Also, specialists recommend that before pouring the whole water, you just wet the ground coffee on the filter and wait 30 seconds. This initial hot water allow the air to escape from the ground coffee, so when you pour the rest of the water, the absorption of the coffee by the water is more efficient. This is one of the things that will bring more bitterness out of the coffee. So I purposefully don’t do this. I put all the water at once, counting that the absorption won’t be as efficient.
So my recipe is: light roasted beans, with fast pouring water. I would have never learned this if not learning from other coffee lovers, even if they have different tastes than mine.
You may be better off grinding coarser, and not skipping the initial "bloom" phase. When not simply dumping water into the brewer, there are of course many other variables to tweak to try and achieve a tasty cup.
Fine grinding because the brewing time is short and fast pouring without initial “bloom” (just learned the term).
I am ok with this level of inconsistency. I believe that I don’t have the trained palate to even notice it.
When I mentioned inconsistency earlier it is because I did not know anything about coffee so I would arbitrarily use dark, medium, light roasts, different quantities even. Btw, I will try to be more exact using this 1 to 12 proportion he mentioned in the video.
About trying coarser grinding, I don’t grind it myself, I buy ground coffee. I could to find a place that grinds at the counter, but there is no such shop close by. I also optimize my coffee for laziness :)
Then different roasts can be brewed independent of bitterness and strength. The last flavors to leech are the most bitter.
But most people don't know any of this type of knowledge, they just know how they do it, and want to tell you why it's the "right way."
That's why talking to coffee and tea drinkers is often insufferable.
On the otherhand, talking to people with actual knowledge to share can be enjoyable. There's just not an easy way to screen for it.
Perhaps instead of brushing them away with a middlebrow dismissal, open your mind a little to the possibility that the world is more complex than you think it is.
Edit: to add to that, for anyone that is curious. There is a pretty rich history in writing on tea, especially in China and Japan. Food aesthetics is also becoming a bigger subfield in philosophy too, usually categorized under everyday aesthetics.
I love _something_. I hate talking to other people who love _something_. ...use the combinations you enjoy.
Bless the parent comment.
There’s a name for that
Tea is naught but this;
First you heat the water,
Then you make the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know.
Sure, but I think if you experiment enough you will converge on the kinds of brewing methods that are considered standard. Take for example gyokuro or certain kinds of sencha - it's quite objective to say that they shouldn't be infused in boiling hot water.
Or take smth like the delicate, flowery, fragrant Li Shan - would you mix it with milk, sugar, cinnamon etc.? Or flavor it with bergamot or jasmine? Sure you could, but you would objectively cover the flavors of the tea itself.
Don’t forget about the steeping time.
People here are missing the purpose of a standard. No matter the details, it serves as a standard way to brew and conduct tasting for tea traders and professionals. Nit picking whether this or that is fine but unless something drastically changes (such as dynamic range of tastes), it won’t matter much. Whether it follows tradition in your specific region is also irrelevant. This isn’t the “right” way to brew either nor does it try to.
Ironically, the bickering here is exactly why a standard is needed. It is proving its point.
It wouldn't surprise me if this standard was responsible for the terrible tea you usually get at a supermarket, especially in green tea. If the brewing method basically makes all green tea taste bitter and tanninous, the blandest, weakest teas will rise to the top, as they will be the least bitter when brewed in boiling water. Much better teas, that would have beautiful flavors if brewed in colder water, would never be favored.
No trader or professional dealing with gyokuro is using this method. The method's usefulness is limited to a very specific set of teas, which should be explicitly called out in the standard.
ISO 3103:1980 (ISO standard for tea making) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1138824 - Feb 2010 (5 comments)
ISO 3103: an international standard for brewing tea - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=95457 - Jan 2008 (7 comments)
Where I live our summers are cool enough and our winters warm enough that there is no need for climate controlled homes.
This has the concequence of widely fluctuating internal temperatures, especially in homes that are poorly insulated which is usually the case for older homes.
I lived in Seattle for 12 years, no air conditioning, it'd be lucky to break 70f in winter, and may be 75f+ during summer morning tea brewing period.
I'm sure he'd have enjoyed the notion of an ISO standard version (perhaps this is the very fluid the Nutrimatics machines deployed?)
The tea can be salty (J&K), incredibly sweet with thickened milk, with spices (cardamom, ginger among others), brewed with bhang (wet cannabis leaf), boiled with milk, leaves spices and sugar at the same time, or with each ingredient added in some specific order..
The possibilities are limited only by one's imagination, and my imagination often falls short of reality. :D
4 August 1986
30 December 1980
COOKIE MIX, DRY
This specification is approved for use by all
Departments and Agencies of the Department of Defense.
1.1 Scope. This document covers cookie mixes for use by
the Department of Defense as an item of general issue.
1.2 Classification. The cookie mixes shall be of the
following types, as specified (see 6.1):
Type I - Chocolate
Type II - Sugar
Type III - Oatmeal
2. APPLICABLE DOCUMENTS
Tea is our social drink and made by boiling nearly same amount of water and milk with loose tea. It's never fruit flavored, just tea.
(And hopefully someone from Pakistan can recommend somewhere in Britain with good chai.)
Taste depends a lot on tea itself. I have used Lipton Yellow Label (loose tea, available on Amazon) most of my life. Process differs a bit for tea bags.
I have yet to find a place of Pakistani tea here in UK.
> At the beginning of the twentieth century, the majority of Indians did not know how to make a cup of tea and were reluctant to drink one. Now that India is both the world’s major producer and consumer of tea, this seems incredible. It confounds the myth that the British acquired their love of tea from their Indian subjects. In fact, it was the British who introduced tea to the Indians. Although they barely changed the way Indians eat, the British radically altered what they eat and drink. While the introduction of a wide variety of European and American vegetables to India was an inadvertent by-product of British rule, the conversion of the population to tea drinking was the result of what must have been the first major marketing campaign in India. The British-owned Indian Tea Association set itself the task of first creating a new habit among the Indian population, and then spreading it across the entire subcontinent.
 http://library.lol/main/5677300D17F8B79988D323EDE13C2FA2 (Start at book p187, which is p208 in the PDF.)
Christopher Hitchens on (Orwell on) tea:
I like some elements but the bit where you heat the porcelain before putting the water in it is a recipe for disaster surely!
To save you the hassle of reading the piece ... Orwell advocates heating your dry porcelain over a naked flame before pouring actual rolling boiling water in. I haven’t actually tried this because I’m very risk averse.
I think this piece takes on a slightly different tone if you imagine a George Orwell’s tongue firmly in his cheek. I read it as a wry take on the sophistry of the English class system ...
On his tone, I get the impression that Orwell really IS this concerned about the right way to make tea. I agree with him about putting milk in last.
I looked up how to brew tea in her old Encyclopedia Brittanica. The most useful bit of information I gleaned was that 3 minutes was the optimal steeping time. You want to maximize caffeine while keeping the bitter tannins to a minimum.
I also found that drinking lots of tea caused muscle twitches. I did some research at the library and the cause, I determined, was that tannins also hinder the absorption of B vitamins. So take B vitamins if you start to have eye twitches, etc. Or drink less black tea.
My personal advice if someone likes to care:
Get a "professional" tea cupping/tasting set. No taste altering filter methods required. My best tea related purchase ever.
Quality loose leaf tea from all over the world to develop your taste buds. Please consider that 2g/100ml is too much tea. Don't fall for hyped teas. Find tea shops willing to prepare a sample.
I got this one from a very accomplished tea master during a class he gave:
Low dosage and boiling water and long steeping. Take sips inbetween. Drink it hot or let is sit for an hour. The taste profile changes with temperature. Good teas will taste good. Bad teas will taste bad. This procedure is simple but unforgiving.
I've usually preferred, and seem recommended, the opposite: high quantities of tea, medium temperature water, multiple short steeping. For good teas, the taste changes with every steeping, with the best aroma often being the second or third. For some teas, the first stepping is un drinkable (especially Pu Erh).
Especially for more delicate green teas, pouring boiling water over them will make them bitter, so I would never recommend that. If your tea is ever bitter, even the tiniest bit, that is the fault of your brewing method: either your water was too hot, or the ratio between tea, water, and steep time was too much.
I like my method. Easy to use.
Bitterness is not inherent to tea. I don't accept this in teas.
But have you really been able to brew green tea with boiling water without having it become bitter? I've tried with a few teas and never succeeded.
Still have Hubei Cui Lu and one green from Anji region. Another yellow tea. Neither has bitterness.
I did have bitter green teas as well. Not much going on for them. Even if carefully prepared. Eventually drank them.
Why does this standard even exist? The Wikipedia article mentions something about maintaining consistency of blends and harvests, but can somebody elaborate? If I was managing a tea plantation, I might certainly be interested in something like this, but why would I use the ISO recipe, rather than some plantation-specific technique?
It doesn't matter if it tastes good or bad. It just needs to be consistent, so the professional taster can analyse it.
They run the European Coffee Brewing Centre (ECBC) that tests coffee brewing equipment (this one is in English): https://www.ecbc.no/about-ecbc/
you can easily check for yourself by burning one momentarily and smelling the smoke.
psa for tea lovers trying to avoid endocrine disruptors.
You can clearly see how the standard is some weird compromise, disconnected from how people actually make tea, and not really helpful in making a good cup of tea.
Why would you assume that other ISO standards are robust instructions that should be followed to the letter, and not more of this?
Heat water, make tea, savor every drop, live happily.
1. Start boiling water on my trusty electric kettle
2. Open the Cardamom premix sachet and pour half its contents into the cup
3. Pour half-cup boiling water, mix and enjoy.
: full sachet with full cup of water is too sweet (except maybe for Indian palettes pre-trained with sweet stuff)