How to Brew Loose Tea

12 Nov

Tea is important. Remember the Boston Tea Party?

I’ve found loose tea to be more delicious and often less expensive than tea bags. You’ll also have more control over the brewing process. I still have a variety of tea bags in my apartment, but I love loose tea. My friend Chelsy mentioned I should write about it on here (it’s easy to forget that some habits you have might be a new learning experience other people!), so here is a quick guide to ease your fears if you’ve never used loose tea.

Loose tea with infusers, teapot, and mug

You don’t need much to brew your own loose tea. You’ll need an infuser, which can be any shape or size (see two examples above – the sphere, which can be used in a mug or teapot and basket that fits into my glass teapot), a mug/teapot, and the tea.

Once you start exploring loose teas, you’ll better understand what makes up your favorite types. The components of bagged tea are typically ground to fit inside the tiny bag, but with loose tea you can actually see the individual ingredients. I have a teaspoon of Tra Que Chai from Tealuxe in the image above.

There are some great places to buy loose tea near Boston. My top choice is Tealuxe because they have a huge selection, prices are great, staff is friendly and helpful, and they’re a small business. The tea from Teavana is good, but it’s expensive. You can often find some loose tea in the bulk section of your local natural foods store (Whole Foods doesn’t have loose tea, but Harvest does). There might also be a limited selection of loose teas at some coffee shops. Here are a few places to find loose tea in the Boston area:

- Tealuxe (Harvard Square & Providence, RI)
- L’Aroma Cafe (Newbury Street & West Newton)
- Wired Puppy (Newbury Street & Provincetown)
- Blue Slate Coffee (Allston, Providence, RI & New Haven, CT)
- Harvest Co-op (Central Square & Jamaica Plain)
- Teavana (Prudential Center, Copley Place & Chestnut Hill; locations all over North America)

You have your tea. Now it’s time to brew it! I typically use one teaspoon of tea per cup of water; two teaspoons for a pot. Put the tea into an infuser or right into the pot if you want to strain it after it’s done brewing.

Boil the water. If you’re making a black tea, mate, or herbal tea, you can pour the boiling water right into the pot/cup (around 200 degrees F). For green and white tea, you’ll want to let the water stop boiling first (the exact temperature should be 175 F, but a slight rest after boiling will give you roughly this temperature).

Loose tea in an infuser

A good thing to remember: if you want stronger tea, add more tea and still brew for the same amount of time. This means stop leaving your tea bag in the water when you drink tea!

Loose tea brewing in teapot

Brewing time will vary depending on the tea you buy. In a tea store such as Tealuxe, just ask how long you should brew it. Green tea needs the shortest brewing time – only one minute! So if you’ve tried green tea before and didn’t like it because it was bitter, you probably let it brew for too long. Black tea needs 2-3 minutes; white tea 4-5 minutes; and mate, rooibos and herbal will need more time – between 5-6 minutes.

You’ll see the leaves and other ingredients in the tea plumping up once the water is added. And save the tea – you an re-use it once or twice if you’d like more later in the day (I wouldn’t wait much longer than that, though). After the correct brewing time, remove the tea and enjoy.

What’s your favorite kind of tea and where do you get it?

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4 Responses to “How to Brew Loose Tea”

  1. PeepThisPeeps November 14, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    You’re completely right. Learning to brew loose tea was something that was introduced to me after becoming a new resident of my house. It’s the little things we forget we had to learn. I agree, while Tevana teas are De licious, it is expensive. I can say, I’d choose loose over tea commercial teabags any day.

    • Liz November 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks for your comment! I should talk with you about whether some of your housemates make their own tea – I knew some folks in college who used dried herbs/fruits/etc to put together their own tea combinations. I’d love to try it out.

      • PeepThisPeeps November 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

        The persons who were most into making their own tea is no longer here, but we have tons of left over cool herbs and leaves to use and sample. We should set up a tea party!

  2. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic November 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    It’s hard to pick a favorite tea! I guess it depends on my mood, but green tea is a no-fail option :) I like the different flavors at Trader Joe’s like white tea pomegranate :)

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