What to Use When You Infuse – Brewing Loose Leaf Tea
For many years tea bags have been a wonderfully convenient way to produce a decent cup of tea. However, it has to be said that loose leaf tea goes above and beyond this, to provide so much more in the way of delivering complex flavours, subtle aromas and individual characteristics of particular teas. Some people are reluctant to try loose leaf tea in the mistaken belief that its preparation will be time-consuming and messy, but there are many devices available that make brewing loose leaf tea a very simple and ultimately rewarding thing to do. Compared to tea bags, there are hundreds of fabulous loose leaf tea varieties to choose from, and leaves can usually be steeped a number of times, with each infusion delivering subtle variations in flavour to add interest to your tea-tasting experience.
The most obvious utensil for brewing loose leaf tea is a teapot. Believed to have been invented in China during the Yuan Dynasty, teapots have been used in Europe since the late 17th century, when they were imported from China along with consignments of tea. They have been made from various materials, including clay, cast iron, porcelain and silver, and today there are many weird and wonderful designs and shapes to be found. Loose leaf tea infused in a teapot may be strained with a tea strainer, or better still, in a teapot with a built-in infuser. When choosing a teapot, it's worth considering the material it is made from, as some types are preferable for certain teas. For instance, stainless steel and cast iron teapots hold their temperature well and are ideal for black and pu erh teas, whereas delicate white, green and oolong teas may benefit from vessels made with materials that don't hold the heat for so long, such as porcelain or glass. Such teas often fare better infused in smaller teapots to optimise their subtle flavours. Glass teapots are particularly good for attractive herbal mixes, as delicate leaves and flowers can be seen to swirl and unfurl as they infuse. They are also useful to gauge the colour and strength of tea required. Ceramic teapots are generally good for most teas.
Teapots are especially suitable for making multiple cups of tea, but if a single cup is required, stainless steel tea infusers provide the perfect solution in the form of a perforated handle that can be filled with tea and placed directly in a cup. There are many different designs of tea infusers made from metal, and some made from silicone, in the form of mesh baskets, spherical, and other cute novelty shapes. A Magic Tea and Coffee Maker/Infuser is another convenient device to infuse tea and release it straight into the cup. And if you still prefer to use tea bags, you can make them yourself by using 'Fill Your Own Tea Bags', enabling you to create whatever flavour or blend of tea you desire.