How Green Tea At A Chinese Restaurant Helped Me Learn

We always enjoyed drinking green tea when we visited a Chinese restaurant. Indeed it was money saving as we could purchase a pot of tea and it would provide cups for the two of us and they offered free refills. A good way to have a cheap date in our younger years!

In an attempt to recreate the flavour of the jasmine tea we loved we purchased a box of green jasmine tea and followed the directions – cover with boiling water and steep for 1-3 minutes. We tasted our tea and were disgusted as it was very bitter and strong and tasted nothing like we hoped it would.

We tried to shorten the steeping time until we were eventually reduced to pouring the boiling water over the tea bag and taking the bag out straight away – resulting in a still bitter tea but with very little jasmine flavour. The box of tea remained untouched at the back of the cupboard.

When we eventually returned to our favourite Chinese restaurant we asked what brand of tea they used. We explained that their skilled choice must make all the difference to getting a great flavour.

The manager was a bit confused. He said that they didn’t use a particular brand, but simply used the cheapest jasmine tea they could source at the time.

We tried, once again, to recreate the tea drinking experience. This time, we purchased a box of loose leaf tea so we could control the amount of leaf in each brew. This was a new concept to us and staff said it could make all the difference.

After much trial and error with different amount of leaf, steeping time and water temperature, we finally were able to make a lovely cup of jasmine tea and re-use the leaves.

We also discovered from the restaurant that they would re-fill the pot with water a number of times and simply re-use the leaves. We didn’t realise that tea leaves could be used many times.

Armed with this new information and our tea leaves, we put in a little less leaf and followed the instructions on the pack: add boiling water and steep for 1-3 minutes.

The result? Horribly bitter and strong.

What disappointment! You wouldn’t imagine that making a cup of tea could be so tough.

This time we looked online. Newsflash – the instructions on the box were wrong.

Green tea needs a lower water temperature than black tea. Typically, hot water somewhere between 75 and 85 degrees centigrade. Definitely not boiling water.

Although we have a thermometer now, we had to do some guesswork back then. Luckily, the next brew we made was finally more like the flavour we were used to at the restaurant.

After much trial and error with different amount of leaf, steeping time and water temperature, we finally were able to make a lovely cup of jasmine tea and re-use the leaves.

This learning process was not a quick one – at least, not the journey we took – but we went at our own pace and we didn’t give up. We worked methodically, improving our understanding at each stage.

From trusting the instructions on the pack of teabags to making our own decisions with specific amounts of loose leaf, we finally found the results we were looking for. Persisting with trial and error was a winning action, as was discussing our goals with other, more knowledgeable people.

Once we realised the possibilities, the world of tea was opened to us. Since those early days, we now drink all sorts of different brews. If we had given up at the first hurdle, we may still be missing out to this day.

Thank goodness for persevering. Next time you find something doesn’t work for you, pick yourself back up and find a new way to explore.



Natalie has spent many years employed as a scientist. Since she committed to supporting her children's whole-life learning, Natalie has developed a strong interest (both general and personal) in how and why people learn and develop. This interest led to the creation of the site you’re currently on, “Learning, Always”.

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