Every tea drinker likes their tea brewed a certain way – something that they have mastered or mostly, what is convenient to them. But to enjoy a great tea, or to increase the pleasure of tea time, it can be fun to experiment with different brewing methods. Basic requirements for this experiment – good quality loose leaf tea, tea cups, and fresh water. Guide to the perfect cup of tea.
Brewing the perfect cup of tea is fairly simple. You will extract the most pleasure from fine tea, steeped with care. Here are a few brewing methods that you could try:
A tetsubin is a traditional cast-iron Japanese teapot. They are very heavy but they retain heat better than just about any other serving method, remaining hot for almost an hour. Most tetsubin come with small cast-iron cups, usually containing 2-4 ounces, and the ritual of pouring tea into these dainty little cups feels exceptionally classy. The downside here is that tetsubin do need a little more care than most teapots due to the potential for rust, but treat yours right and it’ll last for years.
When making a lot of tea and especially masala chai, the perfect brewing method is the saaucepan.
This method is so simple that you can adapt it for any tea: just heat milk and water in a pot, and, when the mixture boils, add tea leaves and spices. The main advantage of using a saucepan is that you have a little more control over the results, since you can taste the tea and add or remove spices as it’s cooking. This makes it a good way to experiment with tea blends, especially if you have a less-than-great tea that could use the flavor boost.
The cold brewing method is simple and adds bags of flavour to the iced tea. Learn how to make a cold brew. The method works best when slowly infused. Jugs of iced tea can be made in advance for a party you are hosting, mix it up with alcohol and create yummy cocktails. Find iced tea recipes.
Also known as a guywan or gongfu, a gaiwan is a small ceramic cup with a fitted lid and saucer. These use a higher ratio of leaves to water than other methods, resulting in a shorter steeping time.
The advantage is that the leaves retain their flavor longer, allowing you to steep each batch several times. More delicate teas usually last 3 or 4 infusions. Gongfu brewing is ideal for high-quality teas, which often taste different with each infusion—floral in the first, vegetal in the second, and so on. A gaiwan is great for when you want to really focus on your tea.
Watching the leaves unfold with each infusion is a beautiful sight, and the entire process can feel quite meditative, like a tea ceremony for one. To serve the tea, you can either drink straight from the gaiwan or pour it into another cup.
The French press, originally created for coffee has found its way in to the tea world. Most French presses are made of glass, so you get to experience the brewing. See the leaves unfurl, the colour of the water change, use the plunger, and see the tea leaves dance.