Whether you will enjoy your tea brew or not primarily depend on the effort, time and skills invested in its preparation. To attain quality and flavourful tea, you need to integrate different types of tools. In this ultimate guide, we have curated a list of essential teaware that you need to brew loose tea.
The teapot is the primary tool in any form of loose tea brewing. It is the tool to employ when you want to heat, steep or reheat the green herbs or drink. A beautiful teapot adds to the elements of decoration. In regards, it can also be a basic requirement when serving quality brew to your peers or guests.
There are wide varieties of teapots in the market that you can opt for. When choosing one, you should consider three cardinal factors: capacity, materiality and shape.
a. Teapot Capacity
The teapot’s capacity refers to the amount of tea it can brew once. Some teapots can contain up to 2Litres. While others can only steep 500Ml. When evaluating the capacity of the tea, closely consider the number of your guests and the scope of your teapot’s functionality. A low capacity works well where you are going to make a brew for two or three people. It is also ideal where there will be frequent brewing.
On the other hand, a roomy teapot is ideal where the brew is for several people. It works well with a large family. Or, where you are serving numerous guests.
b. Teapot Materiality
The scope of any teapot’s functionality primarily depends on its materiality. Popular teapots are made with porcelain, clay, glass, ceramic and cast iron. Each of these types of teapots has distinct characteristics, pros and cons.
Glass, ceramics and porcelain have a stunning aesthetic appearance. They offer cutting edge performance not only during the brewing process but also serving. You can choose them over other variants when brewing high-quality brews such as oolong tea. Additionally, you can count on the variants when brewing using the Gong Fu cha method.
However, it is worth noting that the three variants are highly fragile. You must remain highly observant when using them. They are not stove-top safe. As a result, they limit the user to specific conditions when brewing. Otherwise, their durability and functionality are not questionable.
Clay teapots are also widely used. These types of teapots pride porous surfaces that absorb the scent of the tea. A clay teapot is an ideal option for high-quality brews such as PU-erh. You will automatically like their stunning vintage design that mostly comes handy with Chinese inscriptions. Unlike porcelain, ceramic and glass teapots, clay teawares are highly durable and stove-top safe. They are also easy to wash, maintain and use during the Gong Fu tea ceremony.
Tetsubin, traditional Japanese cast ironware also falls in the list of teapots that are ideal for loose tea brewing. A big draw for this type of teapot is the enamel lining. This feature brings out the elements of insulation and also prevents the metals from being absorbed into the tea. Cast iron teapots are indestructible. They passionately withstand knocks for apex durability.
c. Teapot Design
Teapot design matters a lot in loose tea brewing. The shape of a teapot’s body and spout can either bury or enhance the quality of your tea. Common teapot body shapes include; tall and slender, dome-shape with broad belly, rounded belly with a narrow base and low, broad-shaped belly with dimpled design. All these shapes work well depending on the type of tea you want to brew.
Common spout shapes include long fluted and slender and straight spout. When choosing the best type of teapot to work with, be keen on whether the spout allows for dripping. Brewing pots with slender, long-fluted spouts work best for the Moroccan loose tea brewing. On the other hand, the handless and spoutless Chawan bowls –a vintage-shaped bowl of Chinese prefecture—are ideal for Matcha tea brewing.
The warm and aromatic feeling during a tea-drinking session is the reason behind unwavering loose tea addiction. However, it is a common belief that only the type of loose tea used determines it’s quality. In real sense, even the teacup plays a huge role when it comes to the flavour of your drink.
Just like the teapots, there are plenty of variants in the market when it comes to teacups. Popular teacups feature porcelain, glass and ceramic materiality. Glass teacups are the most common. They are not only stunning but also offer a fine, cosy and smooth feel with an unwavering level of sophistication. Glass teacups are commonly used for high-quality brews for special occasions such as weddings and popular tea ceremonies.
Porcelain and ceramic teacups are the closest rivals to glass teacups. They also come in classical vintage or super modern designs with inscriptions, mainly flowers. Some porcelain teacups feature transparent surfaces. You will often confuse them to their glass counterparts. Otherwise, the only downside of the three variants is their delicate nature.
The size of the teacup also matters a lot. Popular high-quality loose tea brews are sipped using small teacups. The cups are shallow to allow the guests to smell the tea before sipping. This shape also allows for oxygenation of the drink thus giving it a more flavourful quality.
However, some tea lovers use deep teacups featuring capacities of up to 100ML. Such teacups ensure that the drink does not cool easily while also eliminating constant refilling during a tea drinking session.
Lastly, the shape of the teacups matters a lot. An ideal teacup for loose tea brew should come handy with a wide top and shallow bottom. Classical and modern cups feature angled bottom for grip. The shape also adds to overall sophistication and acceptability more so where creating an image is a major cause for concern. Bottom line, when choosing a teacup, the shape, size and design should match your personality and the order of the day.
3. Infusers and strainers
From South American Yaba Mate to Japanese green Matcha drink, infusers and strainers are core requirements for loose tea brewing. These two tea accessories are used to hold the resultant tea to prevent loose tea particles from penetrating the final drink. This process finesses loose tea and enhances its quality.
Some teapots come handy with inbuilt infusers or strainers. However, in most cases, you will be required to acquire you’re a separate strainer. A separate strainer or infuser can be ball or egg-shaped. It features a meshed surface through which the liquid part of the brew passes leaving behind the exhausted leaves.
Some infusers are also held with metallic chains. To dip the infuser into the drink, all you need is to hold it using the chain and let other brewing magic take their effects. Once you have attained the required taste and brewing colour, you can use the chain to withdraw the infuser safely from a mug or teapot.
Just like any other loose tea brewing accessory, choosing the best infuser or strainer is a confusing and demanding task. A tea infuser is so crucial for any brewing session in the sense that it can inhibit or allow for the flow of taste. When enlisting your existing option, consider factors such as:
The size of the Infuser
The size of your infuser affects its surface area exposed to boiling liquids. A large infuser offers a small surface area to volume ratio hence enabling faster and efficient infusion. On the other hand, a small infuser limits the flow of the boiling liquid and its contact to the leaves. Therefore, you will need an additional amount of time to achieve the desired flavour using such sizes.
Besides, large infusers allow for expansion of the loose tea leaves. This property helps a great deal when it comes to achieving an ideal flavour and quality.
The type of Infuser
Infusers take different types. Common types of tea infusers include French press, infuser baskets, tea ball infusers and silicone tea infusers. A French press is the most common based on its reliability and efficiency. Otherwise, the other type of tea infusers can also be used during any kind of loose tea brewing.
3. Storage tea tools
Loose tea leaves are highly delicate. When exposed to air they absorb oxygen and other kinds of scents in the air hence attracting a bizarre taste. Additionally, exposure to air normally results in loss of moisture hence interfering with both resultant taste and quality.
Storing of loose tea leaves begins the moment they are plucked to immediately after use. Even during brewing, you still need to keep the leaves in an airtight container away from both air and moisture. Commonly used storage tea tools include:
a. Tea tins
Tea tins are the first option when it comes to storing your herbs. Also called tea canisters, the tools are mainly airtight containers that feature metallic materiality. Some tea tins are double-walled while others are single-walled. The double-walled are not only durable but also airtight and dark enough to prevent both light, moisture and heat from reaching the tea leaves.
At the top of the canister is an airtight lead. This is the place to open whenever you want to withdraw some leaves for daily use. It is advisable to use all the tealeaves for brewing since once you opened the seal, air and moisture is likely to penetrate in. A sealed container with air inside immensely affects the taste of the leaves more so when left for a long period. Otherwise, due to their minimalistic size, tea canisters are the ideal travelling tools. They enable brewing during camping session and other vocational adventure.
b. Wooden boxes
Wooden boxes are the immediate storage tools just after tea canister. Popular boxes feature wooden structuring made mainly with bamboo, pine or blue gum. They come in different sizes and designs to match different tea lover’s specifications. When choosing your tool, look at a complexly furnished box with unique shade. A vintage shaped box with carvings is ideal for storage of traditional brews such as oolong tea. Otherwise, a wooden box made of strong wood is not only durable but also airtight enough.
4. Additional accessories
Other than the storage and brewing tools, you will require additional accessories to make the whole brewing process a success. These accessories add to the sophistication while at the same time allowing for easier seeping, serving and sipping. Essential accessories include:
a. Tea trays
Tea trays are an essential requirement when serving esteemed guests. They are also a fundamental requirement during the Gong Fu tea brewing session. A tray offers an ideal surface for holding the tiny teacups when serving your guests.
When infusing your loose leaf in a cup using a tea ball infuser, you will need to test your water temperatures. Accessories such as pee-pee boy that are mainly used for the process are placed at the edge of the tray.
On the other hand, gong Fu tea brewing is always messy. It demands that the first infusion be poured over your accessories hence resulting in a pool of water. Adept brewers have tea trays specifically designed for that. The trays feature double layers. The first layer features hole-like structures to allow for the flow of the resultant water inside the tray. Once the water drips in the tray, it naturally drains towards a draining bucket placed nearby.
Gong Fu tea brewing demands for brewing tea in the presence of your guests. Therefore, any mess can colossally taint your social image and turn off your guests’ appetite towards the final brew.
A perfect cup of tea can only be achieved by using perfect tea accessories. Whether you are brewing a high-quality oolong tea, traditional Yaba Mate or the Japanese Matcha drink, you need different tea tools to make the process a success. The aforementioned tea tools not only guarantee quality brew but also ensure your safety during the crucial process.
Lastly, always remember to store the excess drinks properly. Various porcelain and glass teapots out there are designed for the additional purpose. Therefore, do not just choose a teapot for the sake. Consider something that features strings of uses to cut cost corners.