Congou tea is an exotic oriental brew with a lustrous quality and a rich, black appearance. This Asian beverage offers a hint of sweetness, a toasty apple-like aroma, and enough caffeine to boost your day.
On top of its baked apples scent, many manufacturers mix this Asian blend with other ingredients to bring you different flavour blends. For example, some popular variations include rose, lychee, Keemun, and Panyang. Our absolute favourite variation is rose congou tea because of its sweet flavour and floral, blossomy undertones.
After numerous cups and spills, we bring you our comprehensive guide on this iconic Asian drink. We will fill you in with all the best tips and tricks to achieve this fragrant brew and its variations. So, continue reading to discover how to brew this beverage in a matter of just 5 minutes.
What Is Congou Tea?
Congou is a black Chinese tea variety. It consists of thin, delicate leaves chosen through fine and detailed processes. Unlike other varieties, Congou tea leaves are usually processed and sold without chopping or crushing them to pieces.
It also comes in a spiral shape with a dark or black colour. To avoid the leaves from breaking, producers must handle and approach them with care.
In Chinese, this loose-leaf brew is also known as gongfu hongcha, which means black tea. The word congou specifically refers to the way of processing the leaves in a crafted and skilful manner. Interestingly, it also relates to Kung Fu, meaning time and effort.
What Is Rose Congou Tea?
Rose congou tea is made of congou tea leaves and rose petals. It has a floral scent with a sweet, fragrant flavour. In Chinese, this loose-leaf blend is called Meigui Hongcha. You can enjoy this variation with or without milk. But to experience the most out of the rose flavour, this Asian beverage is best served hot and without sugar.
Additionally, rose congou tea benefits drinkers with its high level of antioxidants. The longer you brew the leaves, the more antioxidants you have in just one serving. Other rose congou tea benefits include improved brain function, weight loss, menstrual pain relief, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you are an avid jujube tea drinker, why not switch it up and try this equally fragrant Asian brew? You will see how its fragrant taste can easily complement any meal.
How Much Caffeine Is in Congou Tea?
This Asian beverage contains 50 to 75 mg of caffeine per cup. So, this brew can be a perfect energy booster to kickstart your day. However, you can reduce the caffeine concentration by up to 50% by steeping the leaves with boiling water for less than 5 minutes. This is because boiling water turns caffeine into a highly soluble compound. So the longer you steep, the more caffeine you will get from the loose leaves.
How to Make Congou Tea
This fragrant drink can be achieved in a few easy steps:
- To make 1 cup of this brew, you would need one tablespoon of loose congou leaves to 1 cup of boiling water.
- Then, let the leaves steep in the water for 3 to 5 minutes. If you prefer a stronger and more caffeinated drink, steep the leaves for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Then, strain out the leaves using a sieve.
- Finally, add one tablespoon of milk or sugar before serving. However, we recommend you enjoy this beverage just as it is to enjoy its pure essence.
- We suggest that you use filtered water because there would be no impurities that can affect the pure taste of your beverage.
- The best temperature for the water is 100°C. Anything below this level won’t allow the leaves to brew completely. As a result, you won’t be able to effectively draw out all the flavours into your drink.
- Avoid cold brewing this beverage. Cold water isn’t effective in extracting the flavours and caffeine from these loose leaves and takes too long. Plus, it is more difficult to dissolve sugar using cold water. However, if you want to make iced congou tea, you should first steep the leaves using boiling water. Then, add sugar and stir until everything dissolves. Finally, throw in some ice before serving.
- Store the loose leaves in an airtight container in a dry and dark cabinet. You can leave the brew in the fridge for up to 4 days. After this period, your beverage will lose its taste and start to ferment.
There are several popular variations of this Asian beverage made with special ingredients. They each offer a unique taste you can’t get in traditional Chinese black tea.
If you want a fragrant drink that mixes fruity notes and floral scent, this variation does the job. In addition, you can taste sweet and tart-like flavours when sipping on this beverage. Brewing this blend will yield a darker, reddish-copper solution with an appealing depth. Preparing lychee congou tea is similar to the standard black tea. Furthermore, it pairs best with creamy cakes and biscuits.
This loose leaf variety yields a smoky and floral aroma with wine-like undertones. You can also taste a smooth, malty finish that resembles the flavour of unsweetened cocoa.
Moreover, you will find that there are three popular varieties of Keemun congou tea in the market. These include the Mao Feng, Hao Ya, and Xin Ya varieties. Kemmun Mao Feng has a mild aroma with a sweet aftertaste. Similarly, the Xin Ya variety has a subtle taste due to its low tannin level. Meanwhile, the Hao Ya variety offers an intense woody scent with strong, sweeter undertones.
The Panyang variety offers a nutty and sweet flavour as well as a smoky aroma. It also tastes less astringent, with a smoother finish when freshly brewed. You can enjoy this Asian beverage with salted crackers in the morning. Then, with its rich, toasty flavours, you can serve this drink with hearty dishes like roast lamb and lasagna.
This unique loose-leaf variety has more fine leaf buds than most other varieties. As a result, it offers a mellow flavour with a gentle fruity undertone. This variety comes in fine and cheap grades. The fine-quality product produces a coppery-golden brew with a sweet and less astringent aroma. However, choosing the cheaper option will give you a dark, brownish drink with a bitter aftertaste.
Preparing Congou Tea
- 1 tablespoon loose congou tea leaves
- 1 cup boiling water
- Transfer one tablespoon of the loose leaves into a cup of boiling water. Let the leaves steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Finally, strain the hot beverage using a sieve and enjoy.
- Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar or milk before serving for added sweetness and creaminess. Alternatively, you can substitute the sugar with honey. Using honey will add a distinct honey flavour to your drink.
- Always steep the leaves for at least 3 minutes for a solid and full taste. Don’t steep for more than 5 minutes to prevent your drink from getting bitter.
- You can use a tea egg or an infuser for the loose leaves instead of straining them at the end.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimate.