Just like people develop a favorite tea, experienced tea drinkers develop a favorite way to brew their tea. Now you’re probably thinking, “Really? How different can it be? Tea leaves, boiling water, drink.”
Some teapots are now sold with an infuser basket that submerges the tea leaves in the water and is then removed when the tea is fully brewed. The baskets are usually metal. A large infuser basket allows tea leaves to swell up from the water and move around, releasing all the flavor and color. And then as soon as the tea is brewed, bam! Remove the infuser and you have an entire pot of perfectly brewed tea.
Another type of pot has a plunger that separates the brewed tea leaves from the water once it is finished steeping. Think of it like a French press for tea instead of coffee. The most important thing with plunger pots is ensuring that the plunger fully separates the leaves from the water; any contact between the two and the tea will continue brewing towards bitterness.
Many tearooms brew their tea in this way: scoop tea leaves into a pot and add hot water (believe it or not the best temperature for brewing tea is not boiling). That’s all. When pouring the tea into a cup, a little strainer is placed on the rim of the cup to catch the leaves.
The tea does become bitter using this method since the leaves are left in the water, but places usually refill the hot water to try and make it less bitter. I don’t think it works, but this is a very traditional way to brew tea.
Don’t get me started! Tea bags are obvious choices for individual cups of inferior tea 😉 To brew a large pot, use two or three tea bags instead of one and remove the bags like you would an infuser basket.
These little mesh or wire balls store enough tea to make single serving cups of tea quickly or larger pots of tea if you have more time. Just make sure that you do not scoop too much tea into the ball; the tea needs some room to expand and release its flavor. I’ve used one of these since my year in England and they are the perfect way to use loose leaf tea without needing to brew an entire pot.
As you drink more tea, you’ll develop a preference yourself for how you like your tea brewed. But the important thing is, never turn down a cup no matter how the brewer made it. We never waste tea here J