Unless you plan on drinking bagged tea for the rest of your life, I highly recommend branching out into the world of loose leaf tea and investing in a few essential tea brewing gadgets! Bagged tea is not bad…it just limits you. Once you try loose leaf, there is such fun to be had! Hopefully, these suggestions will make the brewing process much easier!
1. Buy a Tea Kettle – You don’t have to spend $50 + on a tea kettle. A kettle is the most basic tea brewing neccessity…and you can find a very basic one to fit your needs at most of the major discount stores. I have a stainless steel one. It’s not the cheapest out there and it’s not the most expensive…just a normal, everyday tea kettle. They all do basically the same job!
2. Get a tea thermometer – You have got to pay attention to your water temperature. This can mean the difference between a good cup of tea or a terrible one. Black tea and herbals require very hot water whereas greens and whites become bitter when steeped in extremely hot water. Measure your water temperature! Also – don’t dump your tea leaves into your infuser unless FIRST checking the temperature of the water. Pour the water in first, measure the temp, then you’ll know if you need to cool it down (just throw an ice cube or two in) before brewing a green or white tea. My tea thermometer was under $10 and I ordered it from The Republic of Tea. Many online tea retailers have their version of a tea thermometer on their site. Just look around for one you think you’d like.
3. Get an infuser – Tea balls, teapots with built in infusers, plain teapots…there are many different ways to infuse. Some of which may work more effectively depending upon what type of tea you are brewing. Remember, if you have a tea with a huge leaf…don’t squish it into a tea ball. I have an infuser from Teavana that I really think is worth the money. It’s about $20. Adagio sells them as well. My first infuser of this type came from Adagio and was about the same as my Teavana one. They both have a built in strainer and are so versatile that I once even brewed tea at my desk at work inside these infusers.
4. Find a Timer – I simply use the timer feature on my microwave oven. There are some very cute tea timers out there…but my microwave timer works out just as well. Over steeped tea can become bitter, astringent, and quite frankly — way too strong. Watch the temp and watch the time!
5. Use a Teaspoon – Hmmmm…wonder why it’s called a “tea – spoon?” This is the standard measurement for the amount of tea. Some teas (often herbals) require a teaspoon and a half. Nevertheless, the teaspoon is the measurement foundation for all teas. Every tea retailer sells their version of the perfect measuring spoon for tea. You don’t necessarily have to buy into this. Any teaspoon will do!