As I’ve promised in my last blog post, I’m going to help you discover a whole new world of tea. But before any great endeavour like that, we must first decide what tools we need. An explorer never goes anywhere without a plan!
While many of us prepare and drink tea out of the same container (the mug), tea leaves are at their best when brewed in a teapot. The reason for that is that leaves have a bigger surface area so they need more contact with water to develop their full flavour.
Lesson #1: the more space you give tea leaves to unravel and brew, the better taste of tea you’ll get.
Teapots are also a thing of beauty (whether you’re a tea drinker or not), and I have to say that in my experience the shape and material from which they’re made of (generally ceramic, fine bone china, cast iron or glass) do not influence the quality of the brew. It’s true you might to keep some teapots for black tea blends and others for lighter green and white blends, but more on that in a future post.
A good quality teapot should last for many years to come, so make sure you get one to your liking whether you spend £10 or £100. I promise I’ll show you mine in future posts!
Strainers and infusers
We have something to make the tea in, now we need something to separate the leaves from the final result.
There is a myriad of tools at our disposal for that: from novelty infusers like a mini teapot or a manatee to more traditional ones. My personal problem with these is that they are a bit of a faff to clean. Getting wet tea leaves out of any space can be a challenge, let alone a tight one! The more theoretical problem with them is that, like I mentioned above, they don’t give the leaves enough surface area to brew. If you cram a teaspoon of jasmine pearls in a manatee, you’ll prevent the little rolls of white tea from unravelling much. Or any other good quality leaf tea for that matter!
Strainers (like the Fortnum & Mason one above), on the other hand, are posh mini sieves which allow a tea that has brewed directly in the teapot to be separated from the wet blend at the moment of pouring. This allows for the most surface area during the brewing process but you have to be quick to drink it. The more you expose tea leaves to water (past 5 minutes or less with more delicate blends), the tannins will come out and replace the flavour. I’ll explain more about them in a future post, but they are the ones that make the tea bitter and make your mouth clench.
The best way of brewing tea that I have found is using tea baskets, like this one below from Whittard.
They come included in most modern teapots but if you prefer to make your brew directly in a mug, you can get special baskets for mugs – they’re taller and don’t have the indent for the teapot lid tongue. They’re quite cheap to buy and replace when needed (one above is just £4).
Mug or cup and saucer?
You’ll be happy to know that this is entirely your choice. I personally find that cups and saucers provide a sense of occasion to tea drinking. But I opt for a mug for my daily brew.
The material they’re made of is also a personal preference. Some tea drinkers prefer fine bone china over ceramics, but I don’t find it influences the taste much.
That’s it for now! Until next time x