My last post on Three Reasons to Buy Bulk Tea shared my warm and happy thoughts on loose leaf teas...but when purchasing teas whole leaf, it's easy to get a little overwhelmed at the idea of how to prepare them. So I hope this post will help take some of the anxiety out of fixing them AND hopefully share some tea steepers that really do a pretty great job of brewing a great cup of tea. My first foray into whole leaf teas took place many years ago as a newlywed eating at a local Chinese restaurant. The first sip I had of the prepared tea the waiter brought to the table rocked my liquid world...it was amazing.
|This steeper is so small, but it's really cute and I'll admit - fun to look at!|
My second reason for not liking them is that they let some of the tea leaves escape and that means a cloudy cup of tea. Not a drink spoiler but let's face it...it bugs me. I want my cup of tea "clean" as possible as that enables me to re-steep the leaves again. So, I pretty much do not use any of these unless I have a large leaf tea that won't come out through the holes. I still own these because my family, much less particular than I, will use them.
|Not all mesh is made alike; look for a nice tight weave which limits the amount of escaping leaves.|
Next we have the mesh tea steepers. Now I am interested. These make much more sense. However, most of the ones I have are made to filter the tea leaves and not to steep them.
Like the next two in the photos...
The one above swings so when you're done using it, it drips into its own little tray. Clever.
This is a classic English style... at least I've seen them used in BBC tv productions. But the vintage ones had holes in theirs and not mesh. These last two "steepers' are best used with a tea pot as you have to pour the tea from one container to the next. I actually like these two a lot and have used them, but they're not ideal for a single cup of tea.
Now we come to modern days with this really cool tea stick. I saw this in a coffee/tea magazine when we were managing a coffee house some years ago. I wanted one really bad at the time. My husband heard and promptly bought one for me for my birthday. I won't say how much he paid for it but trust me it was A LOT. My heart was touched and it really is the coolest steeper on the block. It does a better job than the steepers with holes, but is not as good as the mesh. I tend to use it for large leafed greens and it works fine. You can see how you slide the punched holed cover to measure your tea, close it, steep and stir your tea with just this stick. Pretty ingenious...just don't overfill.
Now we come this final steeper...the big "daddy" of them all. I actually bought this one as a part of a set. It came in a teapot which arrived broken. I sent the teapot back but kept the steeper because it fit everything from a regular mug to a 32 oz. teapot! This steeper won my heart. It's made of steel and no plastic parts (I don't care for plastic in steepers) and is perforated with micro holes so that not even the finest rooibos leaves escape. Not too mention that it is large enough to allow the tea leaves to happily swim about imparting their delicious flavor to the water. Three great reasons that make this the steeper I go to every time, whether for my teapot or mug. It was also a reasonable price and you can find this one here (replacement infuser).
Okay, here are my top three steepers. Actually the little teapot steeper is not very effective, but every tea collection should have one kitsch-y one... :)
There are also many types of disposable tea bags out there in case you don't want anything bulky to store. You can find a bunch here. I've bought and made my own tea bags before but have never used these particular ones. They make sense that they would work, but I would rather stick with a more economical steeper as we drink many cups. But these seem pretty practical too.
I also found this one called the Tuffy Tea Steeper.
It's collapsible so it's easy to store and made from food grade silicone. Because this one has holes, I think this could work for larger leaf teas; maybe not rooibos so much. It looks interesting though and tempting, but I am sticking with my large tea infuser for sure.
Okay, that's what I've found so far in my tea drinking journey...what's your favorite way to steep loose leaf tea?
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