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Ice-Fire Technique

ice-fire technique for preparing green tea
The ice-fire technique for green tea preparation. Tea in use: Taiping Houkui

In preparing green tea, very often we have to lower the water temperature for a smoother infusion and/or reduced bitterness. The down side of that is lowering of the brisk, or liveliness, in the liquor. While it is fine for some tea, it is not so desirable for others. To achieve the best of using both higher and lower temperature, there is the so called "ice-fire", or polarized temperature, technique. Here is how to do it:

What you need

  • ice cubes
  • boiling water
  • a tall infusing utensil, such as a glass chahai, which I am using here in the demonstration (if you are using a glassware too, make sure yours is temperature resistant, ie withstanding extremes of temperature)
  • a cover for the utensil
  • a decanter (another chahai, perhaps?)
  • a strainer (optional)
  • matching cups/glasses
  • a green tea that is suitable for lower temperature infusion (those that are already very mild even with higher temperature, or those that take a long time to brew are not suitable)

The process

  1. Put the ice cubes at the bottom of the chahai
  2. Put in the tealeaves
  3. Pour the boiling water quite slowly into the chahai, going around the inside of the perimeter, until the chahai is filled
  4. Cover to infuse for 6 minutes
  5. Decant and serve

The whole idea is to infuse partly at very high temperature and partly at a very low one, all happening at the same time. A tall utensil is the key because you do not want convection to happen too effectively so the discrepancy of temperature maintains for some time. The amount of ice decides the overall and averaged infusion temperature. In another word, the more ice, the lower the temperature, the softer the taste.

Use ample tealeaves

Another key to the technique is the amount of tealeaves used. As I always like my tea tasteful, I use 3~4 grams to each 200 ml capacity, which is the rough average of most tall glass chahai in the market. Lowering the amount lose the taste profile too much and the tea becomes too light for the temperature.

safer than cold infusion in TCM term

The other advantage of this technique is that your tea comes out ready to drink without being too hot. It is also cooling enough without the need of caution for TCM dampness and coldness when green tea is used in the cold infusion approach.

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