Learning how to brew loose leaf tea takes tea drinking to the next level when it comes to adding variety to an everyday cup.
A cup of loose leaf tea is usually the beverage of choice for a true tea connoisseur. The brewed leaf combines everything you want from a tea making experience. It is dependent on patience and perfect timing. If you want to get the best-tasting tea loose leaf is usually the way to go.
However, you may be asking yourself how to drink loose leaf tea in an optimal way. Fear not, we’ll cover that and more!
While tea bags are convenient, they don’t always allow users to create blends that suit their specific tastes. This is because already-sealed bags contain a pre-mixed blend of tea leaves, spices, herbs.
Brewing loose leaf tea elevates the tea experience because you have 100 percent control over what goes in your cup. In addition, you have control over the intensity of the flavors chosen.
This allows you to experiment with different infusions, flavors, temperatures, and colors. If you love tea you should definitely consider learning more about how to brew loose leaf tea.
Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags
Before we jump into the top two tips on how to brew loose leaf tea, let’s take a deeper look into the difference between loose leaf tea and tea bags.
Loose Leaf Tea
Loose leaf tea is tea leaves and other herbs and spices that are not sealed up in a tea bag. Many individuals choose loose leaf tea over tea bags not only for variety and flavor reasons but because steeping loose leaf tea gives the ingredients more room to absorb water as they infuse. This then allows more water to flow through the ingredients, releasing a wider range of extracted vitamins, minerals, flavors and aromas.
You can also get more use out of loose leaf tea. Bagged tea often loses its vibrancy after one or two cups, whereas loose leaf tea can be used 3-5 times and still taste great.
In fact, brewing loose leaf tea several times is likely to bring out new unique flavors and intricacies in the tea that were not there at first.
You should become a loose tea brewer if you are truly interested in the art of tea-making. Brewing loose leaf connects you with the tea making traditions of the past. It can be a spiritual and soothing experience as well as a tasty one.
Here’s the thing with tea bags, they come in two basic forms:
- sealed bags
- open bags
Sealed tea bags are the option many beginner tea enthusiasts start with simply because they are quick and convenient. Simply add your hot water, steep, and enjoy. If you are just looking for a quick cup of tea before work, then you will probably be reaching for a standard sealed tea bag.
Open tea bags are an option for those that want to create their own tea blends with loose leaf tea ingredients. This option is supposed to give you the best of both worlds: combining the convenience of tea bags with the experimentation of loose leaf tea.
Unlike with loose leaf tea, brewing with tea bags may restrict water absorption, meaning less of the good stuff is extracted into the water you drink. If you are not too fussy about the taste and you are just looking for a hot beverage then this won’t matter. Tea bags are probably the option for you if you are an avid tea drink rather than a tea enthusiast.
Reusable tea bags
Looking for how to drink loose leaf tea but miss the ease of tea bags? Great news, you don’t have to choose. Muslin tea bags are a great option, and you can get tons at a time as well. You’ll get the best of both worlds. Even better, unlike some other tea bags, they’re all-natural. They just need a little rinsing afterwards, so they’re friendly on the environment too.
It is the ideal product for a frugal tea drinker. And in recent years more and more tea companies have been offering high-quality reusable tea bags.
Muslin Tea Bags – Check it out
Things You’ll Need to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
When it comes down to learning how to brew loose leaf tea, there are some essential items you’ll want to have on hand. These items will ensure you can enjoy the tea making process and, more importantly, they will ensure every cup of tea tastes great.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you pick out some quality tea leaves from a reputable seller. While many choose crushed tea leaves, you can use whole tea leaves for a more pleasant experience. Whole tea leaves will give you a more full and potent flavor.
It is important to get the sort of tea leaves that suit your taste buds. The tea leaves are the basis for everything. If you don’t get good leaves the quality of your kettle or strainer won’t matter.
We love Teavana loose leaf tea. It tastes great and comes in cool flavors like Peach Tranquility, Berry Basil Blast and well-known varieties like jasmine and oolong. Not only that, but Teavana loose leaf tea is made from premium, responsibly sourced ingredients. It’s then blended in Seattle by tea experts.
When using whole loose leaf tea, the leaves absorb more water, and drinkers get the benefits of not only better taste and aroma, but through the infusing processes, drinkers get the added benefits of extracted vitamins and minerals.
If you’re wondering “where to get loose leaf tea near me”, you’re not alone! As we said with Teavana loose leaf tea, we all want top quality and the best tasting tea. It’s even better if we can make sure they come from farms with good practices.
The best advice is to do some research. There are health food, organic stores and cafés in most towns, and many will have experts to help you. If you do have a specialist in loose leaf tea near you, ask them for their recommendations and they might even let you try a few flavors too!
If you don’t have loose leaf tea near you, take a look on the internet. There are specialist suppliers like Teavana loose leaf tea, and independent stores.
Herbs straight from the garden are another great way to add not only flavor but additional benefits like vitamins and minerals to your cup of tea. Mint and rosemary are some very popular choices when it comes to tea flavors, as are basil and even thyme.
Fruits in tea? Yup, that’s right! It’s more like the zest of some citrus fruits that you’ll more than likely include into your loose leaf tea combinations. Some great examples include orange and lemon zest.
Tip: use a vegetable peeler to peel a thin piece of the fruit’s outer skin. Then, add it to your hot water.
When it comes to loose leaf tea, some different infusers can be used when brewing black tea, white tea, and any variety you can think of. Infusers, such as metal tea ball infusers, allow users to place loose leaf tea in them, then place them into their hot water to steep.
While some users prefer separate infusers, many kettles and cups come with infusers built right into them for ease of use. All you have to do is add your favorite blend to the loose leaf tea infuser basket and pour hot water over. They’re also super-easy to empty and clean.
Sure, many users choose to use a tea infuser to steep their loose leaf tea. However, there is an alternative method that is equally as effective at producing tasty and full flavors in every cup.
When researching how to brew loose leaf tea, many suggest simply adding your ingredients into the kettle once it has reached its desired temperature. This allows the tea leaves and other ingredients plenty of space to spread out and absorb adequate amounts of water for the infusion process to take place.
Once your tea is ready to drink, use a strainer to help keep all solid materials out of your cup. Unless you are brewing and steeping with the traditional Chinese method you don’t want bits of tea leaves floating around in your cup
Tea strainers can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, which include non-reactive fine-woven metal, such as metal wire plated with gold and even stainless steel (food grade), and food grade plastic that is non-leaching/BPA-Free.
This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are many different kettles on the market. Many prefer traditional, metal kettles that are used to make tea on the stove. However, electric kettles are gaining popularity because they have a heating element built right in. This way, you don’t even have to start up the stove to heat your water.
The downside of electric kettles: most are set to a given heat level. As a result, you don’t have control over the temperature. The last thing you want to do is scold your tea leaves because your tea will taste bitter and lose its flavor.
For those asking how to make loose tea in a pot, some units even have built-in infusers to allow loose tea to steep as the water is boiling. If you are intending to become a proper tea enthusiast then this may be the type of investment for you.
Cup Or Mug
Another one that might seem obvious, but finding a good cup or your favorite mug can be the secret for how to drink loose leaf tea.
As we’ve said, your cup might be decided by the one your handy strainer fits into, and even these can come in a few varieties. They can be regular pottery cups, or even travel products. If you like to check on the color as you steep your tea, consider a glass one.
Some tea lovers will only drink out of a classic teacup for the ultimate loose leaf tea experience. You can find traditional teacups and cool Japanese-inspired designs. Certain cups have been designed with the express purpose of drinking specific types of tea.
Some say that the cup changes the taste, but we think it’s up to you and what works with your how to drink loose leaf tea routine!
How to Make Loose Leaf Tea
While steeping loose leaf tea isn’t as simple as throwing a premixed bag into a pot of boiling water, it’s not all that different. Below, we’ve outlined two tips on how to brew loose leaf tea.
How to Make Tea with Tea Leaves – Temperature & Boiling Loose Tea
We’ve already talked about how brewing loose leaf tea is beneficial, so how does one go about it? Brewing tea, loose leaf or bagged, takes more effort than simply boiling a pot of water. Depending on the tea leaves you’ve chosen, you’ll want to monitor either the temperature or watch for it to boil.
While many teas can tolerate boiling water, there are some, such as white and green tea, that is too delicate to handle boiling water. White and green tea leaves can end up being “cooked” in boiling water due to how delicate they are.
Most other tea leaves can tolerate boiling water, but the best way to determine how hot your water should be is to give it a taste. If it’s too bitter, you may want to try steeping your tea at a slightly lower temperature.
What about the proper amount of tea per cup? The standard is usually one teaspoon of ingredients per 8 oz of water. This is equivalent to approximately 3 grams of tea per cup. This should ensure that you get the full flavor of the tea in every cup. As with everything, tea is all about balance.
How to Steep Loose Leaf Tea
You don’t want to just throw your tea leaves into hot water. Pour your hot water over loose leaf tea slowly. Allow the tea to steep between two and 5 minutes, depending on the type of tea leaves you’ve chosen.
This allows the leaves to oxidise and release the flavor. Of course, if you prefer tea weaker or stronger, you can leave it less or more time. Just be aware that too long might cause a bitter taste from over-oxidation.
The instructions on how to make loose leaf tea that come with your blend should tell you how long to steep. Your local tea store should be able to help too.
How to Make Loose Leaf Tea Without a Strainer
You want to make great loose leaf tea but you don’t have a strainer. Fear not! There are ways to fool the system and cut corners so that you can enjoy a proper cup of tea. You may also need to find an alternative method if you are unable to find an infuser. So here it goes.
There are two main ways of making loose leaf tea without a strainer that we suggest you try.
1. Steep In A Cup
This is the standard way of preparing tea in China. It is part of an old-age tradition and you will be able to get great tasting tea using this method.
Steeping in a cup is exactly what it sounds like. Pour hot water into your cup. Add your tea leaves of choice to the cup. Now it is time to be patient. Watch as your tea leaves float for a while in the hot water. They will eventually glide down and settle at the bottom of the cup.
This method of tea-making requires a little bit of patience. You will also need to be patient while drinking as some of the smaller leaves may float on the surface. All you need to do is blow them gently away and take smaller sips.
Drinking loose leaf tea this way can be a whole new experience. The gradual process may also make you think differently about tea. The tradition and the tranquility may impart a new appreciation for the making and drinking tea.
2. Double Cup
The double cup method requires some practice. It is a variation on the traditional Gaiwan method which has been around for centuries in China.
In order to replicate the strain without a strainer, you need two mugs and a cup.
You can begin by steeping the tea in one of the mugs as we have discussed above. Then once the tea has brewed you can “place the cup partially in the mug as you’re pouring the tea into the clean mug. It will act as a barrier to stop the loose leaf from transferring into the mug” (AdamsandRussell).
Straining tea this way can be a bit messy for a novice. It will require some practice to perfect. If you are unable to get hold of a strainer this is definitely a good way to get the results you want.
Explore Plum Deluxe tested-and-approved finds for the best tea accessories to help you make the perfect cup of loose tea! Check it out here!
How Long Does Tea Last?
You may be wondering whether that old box of tea in my cupboard is still drinkable? The answer is probably yes. Different teas last for different amounts of time but generally, tea takes a while to go stale and tasteless.
How long does teavana tea last then? Well, it depends. In most cases, unflavored teas have a longer life than flavored teas.
“Flavored teas and herbal teas are best within six months to a year if the package has been opened. After that, you can still drink them, but the flavors will start to dissipate. You can tell because the scent won’t be as strong, the tea leaves and herbs will begin to fade, and the tea just won’t taste the way you remember.”(Plum)
Fear not! There is nothing to be worried about when it comes to drinking old tea. It won’t hurt you it just won’t taste great either. So, make sure you store your tea properly and take some out to brew every now and then to see how the flavor has developed.
“Unflavored green and black teas are usually good for up to 18 months, while most oolongs are generally best within two years. White and pu-erh teas can age extremely well; may people age them on purpose with the goal of enriching their flavor.”(Plum)
Over time, loose leaf tea will mature and the breadth of flavor may expand. However, as we have mentioned the tea will lose its potency after a while. It is best to take advantage of the tea at its peak and not hang on to exposed leaves for more than a year.
Of course, some teas benefit from extended periods of storage. “There’s not really a limit to how long you can age them, either, though white teas are usually aged between 10-20 years; quality puerh, properly stored, can age for 50 years or more.”(Plum)
Take Your Time When Learning How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
Remember, practice makes perfect, even when it comes to brewing and steeping your tea!
Nobody shares the same flavor profile, meaning nobody shares the exact same taste preference. When first learning to brew and steep loose leaf tea, try experimenting with different flavors and temperatures.
Experimenting with different tea leaves, herbs and spices will help you find a flavor profile perfect for your individual taste. How to drink loose leaf tea – whether in a cup, with fruit or spices – is up to you. Follow our top tips to how to make loose leaf tea and you’ll be an expert in no time!
What methods do you use when it comes to brewing loose leaf tea?
Share with us in the comments below!