Learn 5 Different Western Methods of Brewing Loose Leaf Tea
Some people think that brewing loose leaf tea is too complicated and time consuming, but actually it really is quite simple. There’s a few basic ways to brew tea western style, that is, outside of the Chinese methods of Gongfu brewing. You can use a tea pot with an infuser, a basket infuser that you put in your tea cup, a French press, a mesh ball, or fillable bags.
Let’s start with the bags. First fill the bag with tea. Then place the bag in the tea cup and pour water over over it. The advantage of cloth or paper bags is that they’re disposable. However, they’re wasteful, non-reusable, and depending on the material, it can contain harmful chemicals just like tea bags and tea pyramids. Some cloth bags are reusable but are a hassle to clean. Bags tend to inhibit the infusion process more than other methods.
Then we have the mesh ball. You fill the ball with tea and place it in your tea cup. Pour water in the cup and let it infuse. The advantages of the mesh ball are that it’s relatively easy to use and clean, and it’s reusable. However, when tea leaves are steeped in water, they expand. Due to the compact size of the ball and depending on how much tea you use, the tea can expand and fill the ball tightly with tea leaves, which makes the infusion process less effective.
Typically thought of for brewing coffee, the French press can also be used to brew tea. Place the tea in the French press and pour water over it. Place the top on and let the tea infuse. When the tea is done brewing, slowly depress the plunger and pour the tea. The French press is easy to use, easy to clean, and if you have a larger press you can brew tea for multiple people at once. Just be sure there is no water left in the bottom of the press between infusions or the tea can become bitter.
When most people think of brewing loose leaf tea they probably think of a teapot. The teapot with an infuser is the best option if you’re going to be serving tea to multiple people since you can brew a lot more tea at one time. You first add the tea to the infuser basket which can be stainless steel, glass, or even clay. Pour enough water into the teapot so that the infuser is submerged. When the tea is done brewing, either remove the infuser basket or pour the tea into cups so that the tea doesn’t over-infuse and become bitter. The teapot is easy to use and can be used for either one cup at a time or for multiple people depending on the size. The only downside is that you have to wash the teapot in addition to a cup.
That brings us to the basket infuser. These are usually metal or glass and fit inside a tea cup. This is one of the easiest ways to brew loose leaf tea. Place the infuser in the cup, then put tea in the infuser. Pour water over the tea until the cup is almost full and the tea is submerged. When the tea has infused, remove the infuser from the cup and you can even place it on the lid so it doesn’t make a mess. This method of brewing allows the tea plenty of room to infuse, has no potentially harmful bags, is very easy to clean, and is very convenient.
With any of these brewing methods it’s important to use the correct water temperature and infusion times recommended for the particular tea. Some higher quality teas like the ones at Three Brews Tea can be infused multiple times, which means you can use the same leaves more than once to make more tea.