How do you infuse (or brew) loose leaf tea?
A lot depends on your preference; however we’ve listed a few ideas below for some guidance.
Of course we have to start this guide off by saying choose really good quality loose leaf tea and use good quality water – filtered if using tap water. Make sure you read the preparation guide for the tea you’re about to infuse (or brew) and boil the water (and if appropriate allow to cool) to the correct temperature. The method of how you infuse your leaves is entirely up to you. There’s really no right or wrong way, however there are a number of options available to suit you and of course many tea lovers use different methods depending on where or when they’re drinking their tea. Below we’ve listed a few of the more well known methods.
Paper tea bag filters
If you prefer the idea of using tea bags, then you could make your very own do-it-yourself tea bags, or as they are correctly known, paper tea filters. These items are ingenious, totally bio-degradable, chlorine free and are designed so your loose tea has room to move around whilst infusing. They come in various sizes to fit either a cup or large teapot, even a flask size, and are so easy to use. You simply spoon your tea into the filter bag and pop it in your cup or teapot. That’s it. Once done, you simply dispose of the filter bag and leaves, or throw on your compost. No mess, no blocked sinks, they really are very impressive.
Glass infuser mugs
Glass infuser mugs are great if you’re making tea for one. You simply place your loose tea in a glass infuser inside the glass mug, pour on your water then watch as your leaves unfurl and swirl in the infuser – sometimes it looks like a snow globe!! Once your tea has infused, you just remove the glass infuser and drink your tea. Of course you need to dispose of your leaves from the glass infuser and wash it (and your mug!), but the good news most reputable makes are they’re dishwasher safe. That said, they are glass, so if you do drop them, like any glass, they will break!
Glass tea pots
Now here’s how to impress! Glass tea pots come in various shapes and sizes some with and some without glass or stainless steel infusers. Those that don’t have infusers are generally used for flowering teas, unless very small, gongfu style, when often they have a strainer in the spout to catch any loose leaves. Where the teapot has an infuser, your tea leaves are placed inside and hot or boiling water is added. If you’ve got guests, you’ll find everyone watching the leaves unfurl and swirl…amazing to see and a great experience to share as, is of course, drinking the tea together.
Teapots with inbuilt infusers
There are some great designs of everyday ceramic, cast iron and stainless steel infuser teapots on the market. They’re really simple to use and can be very decorative too depending on your preference. Simply spoon your loose tea into the mesh infuser that sits inside the teapot, pour on your water and wait for the required length of time for your tea to infuse then simply remove the basket of leaves. Now you have a delicious pot of tea ready to serve! You can discard of the leaves into your bin or onto your compost heap, but either way, it’s very simple to make a great pot of tea without worrying about the mess of leaves.
Mesh ball infusers come in all shapes and sizes, from a single cup size to one that can be used in a large teapot. However, whatever size you choose, make sure you buy quality stainless steel. Some infusers are simply a mesh ball often with a chain; others, known as pincer or spring handled infusers, have long handles that when squeezed together open the attached mesh infuser ball to allow you to place or remove the tea leaves. You simply place the mesh infuser (holding the leaves) into your cup or teapot, wait the required brewing time then remove the infuser. Removing the leaves is quite easy but of course you’ll need to wash the infuser itself after use. Some leaves from very fine teas such as Rooibos can sometimes escape through the seal where the mesh infusers meet, but apart from that they are a relatively cost effective and reusable way to infuse loose leaf tea.
These are a more recent invention that allow you to enjoy loose lea tea in the convenience of a teabag. Depending on the source, most pyramid infusers have a reasonable amount of leaves contained within, however, you are restricted to adjusting the strength of your tea only by per teabag. The do have more space than traditional teabags allowing the loose leaves to expand when in the water and of course can be conveniently disposed of.
There’s nothing wrong with a simple tea strainer as long as you realize that any residual tea leaves left in the teapot will continue to infuse and if you’re making normal camellia sinensis tea your tea will become more astringent and possibly very bitter unless you pour all the contents of the teapot out into cups when the tea is ready.
When you’ve got good quality loose leaf tea you’ll want to keep it in good condition so it’s really important to store it properly. Your tea should be stored away from light, moisture, strong odours and kept in an airtight container. Tea should not be stored in the fridge. We recommend using small tea caddies. This way, if you have a larger amount of tea, you can simply decant a smaller quantity into your tea caddy and keep the rest stored away, avoiding unnecessary contact with air, light, odours and moisture.
3 simple steps to making that perfect cup of tea.
Step 1: Empty a Royal Chai sachet into a cup or mug
Step 2: Pour 180ml of hot water & stir
Step 3: Enjoy your cup of Royal Chai!
A survey of British tea drinkers finds they consume the equivalent of two bathtubs of tea annually and spend £12,500 over their lifetimes purchasing tea.
Tea drinkers consume an average 17 cups a day totaling 70 gallons (265 liters) annually, according to results compiled by the Dreams Come True Charity. The charity for sick children teamed up with YouGov Research to survey English, Scot, Irish and Welsh tea drinkers to promote its June Dream Tea fundraiser. Donations enable the charity to make children’s dreams come true.
A report in the Irish Post revealed those over 55 drink two and a half times the amount of tea as those aged between 16 and 24.
“Interestingly, London boasts the least tea drinkers in Britain – consuming only two thirds of the amount of tea taken in the North of Ireland – yet spend the most on a cuppa, weighing out an average £15.94 a month per head in pursuit of a good brew,” according to the newspaper.
YouGov found 18-24 year-olds drink eight cups a week on average while those 55 and older drink an average 21 cups. Over half of all adults polled agreed that they associated a cup of tea with comfort with a majority stating they find tea drinking relaxing. A quarter of young people are likely to turn to a cup of tea when feeling sad and that a third of women will put a kettle on when feeling ill compared to 16% of men surveyed, according to The Telegraph.
Sources: Irish Post, The Telegraph
The quality of the water makes such a difference!
Did you know that water quality affects your tea?
You can have the best quality tea, the water boiled to the correct temperature, but if your water isn’t good your tea will not taste its best. In fact in can taste awful. Some people like to use bottled spring water to make their tea, but a very convenient and cost effective option is to filter your tap water.
Why filter tap water?
Natural water and normal drinking water from your tap, all contain dissolved gases and salts, including calcium and magnesium. These salts affect the ‘hardness’ of your water and can vary depending on where you live forming insoluble compounds such as lime, often referred to as lime scale. You’ll no doubt have seen this for yourself as the white scale left on appliances such as kettles, steam irons etc. wherever water is heated. In addition, some water can be affected by the pipes through which it flows and as a result contain traces of lead and copper. The presence of chlorine can also affect the taste of your tea. Using a water filter will reduce these substances in your water and make for a much better cup of tea.
What types of water filters are available?
There are many types and kinds on the market to suit everyone’s taste, demands and budgets and these can range from full blown filters attached to your incoming water supply to a simple water filter jug.
About me: Hello! I am from a small town in Northamptonshire. I want to accomplish lots of things in life but one of my top priorities is travelling! One of my favourite places I have been so far is a tea plantation in India.
My favourite HiraTea is: I would have to say that Bombay Cutting is my favourite tea because it complements my taste for adventure.
My hobbies include: Describing myself as an inquisitive individual, I enjoy travelling and blogging about my experiences. Since visiting a tea plantation on my study exchange to India last year, I’m constantly on the lookout for new Tea houses to visit and even tried blending my own tea.
Tea needs to be stored well in order for it to retain its freshness and flavor.
Experience your tea at its best
We take great care looking after your tea so that when you receive it, you will experience and taste your tea at its best. To ensure you keep your tea in tip top condition, store it in an airtight container away from light, moisture and strong odours and whatever you do, do not freeze your tea!
Keep it small
If you buy one of our larger pouch sizes we would suggest a good way to stop over exposure to air, moisture, odours and light is to decant smaller amounts into a small everyday airtight container like a caddy. Store the remaining bulk tea in a larger airtight container and only open when you need to refill your small container.
Tea at a restaurant used to be a simple business: an anonymous bag hanging limply out of some lukewarm water, the ordering of which marked you as an invalid or New Age health nut. But lately, ordering tea has ascended into another realm, a ritualistic ceremony with enough bowing and scraping to transport the diner to the days of the Raj. Entire sub-menus are devoted to tea, cataloging exotic varieties with long, florid descriptions.
For a long time, tea was an afterthought in restaurants. It fell behind wine, coffee, and even water. You’d visit the finest restaurants, have an amazing meal, and then finish with lackluster and poorly steeped teas. But that is changing. Over the last few years, a gradual shift in retail perception of tea has trickled down.
So why exactly should a budding chef or manager, someone who dreams of one day making a mark on the industry through their culinary or managerial prowess, exert the effort to create and curate a quality tea program? Why should they even care? In the end, my ideas have distilled down to three reasons why tea and tea service should be important to every restaurant professional. They are:
- Tea is every bit as complex and nuanced as wine.
- Tea and tea service should be held to the same standard as any other part of a meal.
- Tea is a valid alternative to soda, juice or “mocktails” for those who, for religious or personal reasons, opt to abstain from drinking alcohol.
To me, tea service is good service and good service must include proper tea service.
In the end, tea matters.
Whatever the kind, white, green, yellow, oolong or black, all tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. It is simply the way the plucked leaves are processed, that changes its character, chemical composition and appearance.
White tea, the youngest leaves
White tea is thought by many to be one of the highest prized teas you can drink. Always handpicked, a high quality white tea, such as Silver Needles, is given such care ensuring the natural withering process and gentle drying are the only process the leaves are exposed to. White tea is the name given to the new growth buds and young leaves that are plucked before they are fully opened. It is the silver hairs on the new buds that give the young leaves a white appearance. The removal of any real processing is believed to yield the high antioxidant health benefits associated with white tea identified in recent studies. Pale in colour with a wonderful, light refreshing taste white tea is enjoyed best without milk.
Green tea is one of the least processed teas and involves plucking the leaves once they have fully opened. As a result, green tea retains high levels of antioxidants (polyphenols), often referred to as ECGC or catechins and it is their abundance that provides us with specific green tea health benefits reported in many of the leading health journals – one of the more topical ones is of course green tea’s reported potential to boost the metabolism and burn fat to aid weight loss.
Various regions throughout the world produce green tea, each with their own unique taste. One such green tea, originating from Japan, is known as Matcha, a form of green tea where the leaves are pulverised into a fine powder. When Matcha is infused, the whole leaf is consumed thus causing higher levels of antioxidants to be absorbed and as such is considered to be very healthy.
Pouchong is classed as between Oolong tea and Green tea. It has a more mellow taste than Oolong tea yet stronger than Green tea. Pouchong tea is considered to be a special taste by tea experts all over the world. Pouchong tea is only slightly oxidised, between 8 and 10 % and the process involves solar withering, indoor withering, panning, rolling and then drying for the finished tea which produces a light delicate taste with a smooth finish.
Oolong teas as a group, are classed as ‘semi-oxidised’ which means the tea leaves have been left to wither, a process which produces a chemical change in the leaf known as oxidation. A physical change is visible as the tea leaves begin to curl and the edges begin to turn a coppery colour. To produce Oolong tea, the oxidation process is stopped before it is fully completed and thus the leaves are ‘semi -oxidised’. The varieties available of oolong tea are largely due to where the tea is grown and also the point when the oxidisation is stopped. This is where the skill of the tea master comes into play to ensure the quality and consistency required for that specific oolong tea is met. Colour and taste of oolongs obviously vary but are often referred to as light or dark oolongs. Oolong tea’, ‘wulong tea’, ‘wuyi tea’, ‘wu yi’ tea – what’s the difference? These are simply names for the same thing: oolong tea. The different names originate from the different areas they are produced. As with white and green tea, oolong teas are also known for their positive effect on health, in particular their potential to boost the metabolism and burn fat as an aid to weight loss.
Black tea, in its various forms, is probably the most well known in Western culture. The reason black tea is different from green tea , oolong or white tea is because the plucked leaves are fully oxidised. There are many variations of methods and processes used by tea producing regions throughout the world, hence the wonderful variety of colour and flavour. Breakfast teas are usually blends of one or more black teas from different countries. Darjeeling teas are most often from single tea estates from the Darjeeling region in India and are often referred to as the ‘Champagne of Teas’.