Some people run in fear of loose leaf tea because they think that brewing loose leaf tea is complicated or messy. They’ve seen all the fancy setups and get turned off or intimidated. Steeping loose leaf tea is really not much different from using a teabag.
Things You Need
1. Tea – Choose a good tea. Life’s too short to drink bad tea.
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2. Hot water– at the right temperature. Good teas are more tolerant of hot water and produce less bitterness, but optimal temperatures can extend the life of your tea leaves and deliver richer character. A good kettle will help control temperature and allow for smooth pouring.
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3. A steeping vessel. This could be a gaiwan, teapot, tea infuser, or other. Avoid those infuser balls and similar gimmicky crap. If you want something that goes straight in a cup, get a brew basket instead.
What To Do
1. Get your cup and pot ready. If you want good tasting tea that isn’t weak and watery, you’re looking to add a good heaping teaspoon of tea for each cup of tea served at each steeping. Notice this is per steeping – don’t think that you need 5 teaspoons if you’re going to steep the tea 5 times. Most good teas can be re-steeped. In many cases, they can be re-steeped multiple times.
2. Heat your water. There’s all kinds of talk about how heating water in the microwave is bad. It may not be the best but it isn’t terrible either. Kettles are nice, and a Zojirushi is delightful. Aim to heat your water to slightly below a full boil- look for small bubbles, not a rolling boil. Most teas don’t need water that hot.
3. Add water to your cup/pot. Tea leaves will float. Try to pour so that all the leaves at least dip beneath the surface for a second.
4. Wait 30 seconds and then decant. “Decant” is just a fancy way of saying get the water off the tea leaves. You may be thinking that 30 seconds isn’t enough. You may be right. Use 30 seconds as a rule of thumb- as you learn to use the tea leaves you’ll find a your ideal amount of time. In most cases you certainly don’t need more than 2 minutes for a first steep. That’s just over-steeping tea leaves that can be better used on the re-steep. As you re-steep, steep a little longer each time – add 10 to 30 seconds to the previous steep time.
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