Steeping time is probably the most subjective parameter in brewing with everyone having a different preference.
In essence, the longer that you brew your leaves the more that you extract. This makes for a stronger liquor. It's like turning up the volume on some music.
Some people prefer the tea to be light and engaging, others prefer it loud and powerful. No doubt, there reaches a point where the extraction becomes too strong and the tea becomes 'distorted' but there is plenty of room to play around to suit your moods.
I recommend that you start off with short steepings to get to know a tea. This goes against the standardised 'cupping' method which seeks to extract at volume 10 in order to reveal all facets of the tea (positive and negative). I prefer to taste the tea in movements. Let's first taste the light , fleeting aromatics and then as we continue our session we can get to know the more semi-volatile compounds before understanding the leaves' base flavours. In this way we experience the flavour in layers rather than merge them together.
After I get to know how the tea expresses itself over several shorter infusions I can have a good idea of what balance I want to achieve and brew accordingly.
Download our free brewing guide to give yourself a good starting point for brewing and then let yourself experiment to find the right volume for you.
Next up lets talk about the importance of Water Temperature.