Do you enjoy a good cup of tea but aren’t sure how to brew loose leaf tea? This guide will walk you through tips and tricks that make it easy!
By: Nicole McKinney of Tea on the Trail
What is the world’s most common drink? If you said water, congratulations! Now, can you name the drink that comes in second?
TEA. No kidding. Not wine, not beer, not coffee – not even close! Reportedly, about 3 billion cups are consumed every day.
Erm, really? Tea from a bag? You might think, surely that could be improved upon, and you’d be right!
If you’ve read my last article, “Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags,” then you already know that the delicious world of tea can’t be contained in a tea bag.
But aren’t tea bags the most convenient way to brew tea? Eh, not so much. The right tricks can make a flavorful gourmet cup of loose leaf tea amazingly easy!
Let me share a few secrets.
How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea in a Teacup (No Pot)
A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of tea for no more than 8 ounces of water.
Experiment according to your tastes, because I usually prefer a little less water – maybe 6 ounces.
The main thing tea needs is room to expand.
A teaball like the one pictured below is almost always too small. The leaves expand, and flavor gets trapped inside.
A much better choice is a wand infuser.
But is your cup or mug bigger than 8 ounces? Probably! That means using more dry tea – so your brew isn’t weak. And THAT means more space for the flavor to blossom.
Here’s an easy solution: A strainer like this can hold a tablespoon of tea—and more importantly, it will release the flavor right into your cup!
If you already have a French press, that can be a great way to brew tea.
Just be sure to clean it thoroughly with baking soda if you have also used it for coffee.
How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea in a Teapot
One of my favorite options is a glass teapot. You can watch the tea leaves unfurl.
Glass has neutral effects on the flavor of tea (more about that later). And it’s easy to use and clean.
Usually glass teapots have a removable basket (glass or steel) that leaves only the liquid tea in the pot.
These glass teapots are made of Borosilicate glass, the same type of glass used in beakers over an open flame in science labs. So, pour boiling hot water into them and they won’t break!
(You know that curious me just HAD to try this out. One roaring campfire plus one glass teapot… and it worked perfectly!)
This teapot with a spiral wire strainer in the spout, pictured below, allows only the liquid to come out.
And, bonus: since loose leaf can be just as flavorful on the second, third, or even more steeps, a teapot keeps the leaves ready for their next little bath.
Specialty Tea Gear
Now let’s look at some teaware for specific uses:
The lovely vessel pictured below is called a gaiwan.
The gaiwan is used for all types of Chinese tea. The tilted lid holds back the leaves as the precious tea flows into the cup.
This style of brewing is called gong fu cha (simply, tea practice). It’s one of my favorite ways to slow down and really enjoy my tea.
Japanese green tea thrives in a kyusu such as the one pictured below:
I’m dreaming of this kyusu on Amazon.
The unglazed clay reacts with the tea to emphasize a bouquet of flavors.
Even more highly reactive is silver. As a little girl, I thought my mom’s silver tea set was so glamorous.
But it turns out that silver can drastically affect the taste of tea—and not always for the better. Some people like it with specific puerh teas.
I love to serve white tea in silver, but never green or black teas.
Let’s sum this up: your tea brewing options are endless, but not so complicated after all.
The key is to give the tea leaves room to give up their flavor. And tea, above all, is fun! So don’t be afraid to experiment with your tea vessels.
About Nicole McKinney
Nicole McKinney is a photographer, rare tea enthusiast, and nature lover. She lives with her husband in Eastern Kentucky. Follow Nicole at Tea on the Trail.