brewing loose leaf tea
Whether you have 2 minutes or 2 hours available you can still enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea using a method that suits your lifestyle.
1. If you have no equipment available to you except a kettle, a cup and some tea then you're in business. Simply boil the water, add tea leaves to your cup then add some water. What could be more simple? You'll probably swallow a few tea leaves as you drink (which isn't a bad thing!) and your tea will become stronger the longer the leaves sit in the water but you'll find thousands, if not millions of Chinese drinking their tea like this. Once you've drank your tea you will be able to refill your cup with water several time more to give you more cups of tea without changing the leaves. And the best part is that no waste is produced. The tea leaves are fully bio-degradable and can go in your regular bin or you can compost them.
1.5 Just a small step up from using no equipment at all and something that makes drinking loose leaf tea a lot easier (especially at the office) is a tea ball or tea infuser. Traditionally made from stainless steel they now come in a bewildering range of shapes, sizes and colours. An infuser is basically a metal tea bag that will last you a lifetime. It'll keep you leaves together in your cup while allowing the water to circulate and make your delicious brew. It makes life easier in you're drinking your tea at work and for the price of a few pounds we would heartily recommend one.
2. If you're adamant about not buying any more items for your kitchen (and we don't blame you) then you can use your cafetiere. Depending on the size of your cafetiere you should add about 1 heaped teaspoon of tea for every mug sized cup of tea. We add an extra spoon to a 2/3 cup cafetiere as we like to refill it over the day. If you leave the remaining leaves in just a little water in the bottom of your cafetiere overnight then you'll be able to get another strong brew just by adding hot water again the next day. Some may frown on this but when the leaves still have so much to give there's no point in wasting them. You also get the pleasure of a while new taste from a second day brew. If you're drinking Tie Guan Yin then watch out for the caffeine kick you'll get!
3. After a while you'll no longer be able to resist and you'll need every accessory available. We would recommend investing in a little clay teapot and some small cups. A tea tray, used to catch the spilled water is also very useful and quite inexpensive. This is a great way to enjoy your Chinese tea at home and will also give you a chance to prepare Gongfu cha (Kungfu Tea) for your friends. Delight their taste-buds and take them on a journey through the mystical plantations of China. They'll never forget the experience and before long you'll be asked to prepare the tea again and again.
Many slight variation exist when it comes to preparing Gongfu style tea but here's our favourite. Once you have your teapot, cup and leaves set up on your tea tray pour some boiling water over the closed teapot to warm ans sterilise it. Next, add your loose leaf tea and fill the teapot with hot water. Pour this tea away as at this stage we are simply washing the leaves and 'awaking' the flavours and aromas. Fill the teapot again and allow to brew for a few minutes. You may finally serve the tea! Some prefer to decant the tea into a separate jug then refill the teapot with water so that a consistent strength can be drank each round and the choice is yours.