Enjoying the Dance of the Tea Leaves (aka The Agony of the Leaf)

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Enjoying the Dance of the Tea Leaves (aka The Agony of the Leaf)

Have you ever taken a moment to watch the dance of the tea leaves as  you brew your leaf? As water is poured over the loose tea leaves, they begin to move, dancing from one side to the other, spinning and twirling as they go.  


The dance of the tea leaves, also known as the agony of the leaf, is a term used to indicate the unfurling of the leaf during the steeping process.  It has captured the attention of poets, romantics and tea lovers for centuries. It’s something that the Stir Tea team never grow tired of watching, and today we’re here to share our love of this experience with you.

Watching the Dance of the Tea Leaves 

As part of the incredible craft of producing tea, the tea master guides the fresh tea leaf (camellia sinensis) through several stages of processing to arrive at a formed and dried leaf with a moisture level of around 3%, effectively they have put the tea leaves to sleep. 


As you commence brewing your tea the process of pouring your prepared water over these leaves, agitates them and awakens them or stirs them from their rest and they begin to present their dance.   The movement of the water in the brewing vessel gently teases and coaxes each leaf to open from their cocoon-like shape.  Each masterfully curled or shaped leaf slowly unfurls, releasing its stored oils, complex flavours and aromas. 


During this dance the tea leaves can move freely throughout the brewing vessel only restrained by the water they are within. The resulting brewed liquor will reward you with more flavour and complexity than other brewing methods where the leaves may by constrained and less able to expand and unfurl themselves.  


We have outlined below how to achieve the best expression of this dance.  We find it fascinating to observe how the different styles of tea present themselves to us  - the elegant Silver Needle white tea is along the lines of a waltz, the Assam black tea is more jive and the stunning jasmine pearl presents a gentle ballet performance as the two rolled leaves unfurl.  Engaging your senses with tea in manner is a wonderful opportunity to bring a moment of stillness into your day.  


Achieving the Perfect Cup of Tea with Your Dancing Tea Leaves 

“How do you achieve the perfect brew?” we hear you say. Well, it all begins with your decision to purchase the best loose leaf tea you can afford. From here, it’s all about the storage and preparation, and we have a downloadable PDF which details the process for you.

To watch the dancing tea leaves, we recommend brewing your cuppa in a glass vessel, such as a glass tea mug or teapot. Measure the recommended quantity of tea into your warmed vessel, then pour your water (prepared at the recommended optimal temperature  for your tea type) across your leaves.  Leave the tea to steep according to its variety, before using a strainer or infuser to remove the leaves (set aside to be used again if green or white tea leaf).

We’d love to talk more with you about creating the perfect cuppa and share with you our love of the dance of the tea leaves. Please get in touch via phone, email or meet with us at one of the local Queenstown markets we attend.

Contents Tea Research  Tea Culture  

Posted: Monday 30 September 2019