How to Make Loose Leaf Tea
Brewing the perfect cup of tea is an art form. There are many different ways to make loose leaf tea, and each method produces a unique flavour profile. However, with a few easy steps and great tips, you can easily become an expert at preparing delicious cups of tea in no time. Whether you're just getting started with loose leaf teas or looking to up your skills with existing knowledge, by selecting quality ingredients, choosing the right infuser, and how much loose leaf tea to use, you make every sip tea-licious.
Loose Leaf Tea
Loose Leaf tea is a type of tea that has been made from the whole leaves, stems, and buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Unlike other forms of tea, such as tea bags, loose leaf tea maintains more natural flavor and aroma since it has not been compacted or ground into small pieces. This makes loose leaf tea ideal for those who are looking for a unique, fragrant cup of tea with a distinct complexity.
The quality of the loose leaf tea is determined by how carefully the leaves were picked and processed. Tea grades can range from lower grade Fannings to higher grade Whole Leaves. The higher grade leaves will often contain more caffeine and offer a richer flavor profile than their lower grade counterparts. Additionally, organic varieties are also available which use leaves that were grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Loose leaf tea comes in all the varieties you would expect like black tea, green teas, white tea, oolong teas and more.
Ways to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
To make a cup of loose leaf tea, simply place your desired amount of loose leaf tea into an infuser or strainer and then add freshly boiled water from an electric kettle or stovetop kettle to steep. Depending on the type of loose leaf tea leaves you are using, it should steep for between 2-5 minutes before being removed from the water.
There are various types of loose leaf tea infusers and strainers available on the market, each are designed to provide different levels of flavour, aromas and connivence. They can include the following.
Teapot or Mug with a Built in Basket Tea Infuser
For those looking for a simple method of brewing loose leaf tea, consider teapots, mugs or tumblers with built-in infusers. You simply have to add the tea and water with a rolling boil. These types of infusers usually come with a mesh, basket style tea strainer which are great for larger leaf loose leaf tea varieties like hibiscus tea.
Tea Filter Bags
If you don’t have an infuser handy, tea filter bags are a great option. You fill these biodegradable tea bags with loose leaf tea and simply toss them in the trash or compost when you are done. They are a mess free way to make for anyone who doesn't want the extra dish. They are a great option for fine or powdery tea which would otherwise make its way through your tea strainers and into your tea.
Tea presses have the same design as a french press. However, we wouldn't recommend using the same one you use for your coffee, as it can cause taste transfer. To make tea with a press, simply place your desired amount of loose leaf tea into the press, add freshly boiled water, and then steep for 2-5 minutes. The tea press allows you to strain out the leaves when finished while keeping all of the flavour and aroma intact.
Mesh Tea Balls
Single cup infusers can easily be placed inside a mug or tea pot when you are brewing tea. Single cup infusers come in several stainless steel or silicone varieties, ranging from traditional mesh tea balls to more artistic designs. However, avoid using these for larger or fine leaves as they may not leave enough room for the tea to expand or for fine leaves which could make their way through the mesh.
For those who are looking for a more complex infusion process of brewing tea, there are gaiwans and double-walled cups available. Gaiwans are small lidded dishes used in Chinese tea ceremonies that allow for multiple steepings of the same leaves.
Double-walled cups offer an insulated way to both steep tea for larger amounts of tea without having to worry about cooling down the hot water too quickly. These cups also offer an airtight seal, allowing for longer steeping times without losing flavour or aroma.
When you brew loose leaf tea of any kind, it is important to consider the size and shape of your infuser or strainer. Loose tea tends to expand after being exposed to water so it is important to select an infuser that will allow the leaves enough room to fully unfurl while still containing all of the flavorful oils and aromas within the steeping vessel.
How Much Loose Leaf Tea to Use
The amount of loose leaf tea to use will vary depending on the type of tea and how strong you prefer your cup of tea. However, it is generally recommended to use about a teaspoon of loose leaf tea per 8 ounces (1 cup) of water. Some can contain more caffeine than others, so it may be best to adjust this ratio if you are looking for a higher or lower caffeine content. The same goes for herbal teas which often require a longer steeping time than regular black or green teas.
How to Make Loose Leaf Tea for One
Brewing loose leaf tea for a single cup is simple. All you need is the appropriate infuser, the preferred amount of tea leaves and hot water. We would suggest using a tea filter, a mug with a built in filter or a mesh tea ball or strainer for this method.
Here are some steps to follow when you brew loose leaf tea for one:
- Measure out 1-2 teaspoons of your desired tea leaves into an infuser or strainer.
- Put the infuser in your favourite mug or teapot and pour boiling water over it.
- Let steep for 2-5 minutes depending on the type of tea you are using, then remove the infuser before drinking.
- Enjoy your cup of freshly brewed loose leaf tea! When making loose leaf tea for one, be sure to select an appropriately sized infuser to prevent over steeping tea.
Generally speaking, light-bodied teas such as white and green should be steeped at lower temperatures between 175-185°F for 1-3 minutes while heartier teas such as black and oolong can be steeped at higher temperatures between 195-212°F for 3-5 minutes.
For the best water temperature to steep your at, check out this blog post.
How to Make Loose Leaf Tea For More Than One
Making more than one cup of loose leaf tea is simple and only requires slightly different preparation depending on the size of the batch. If making multiple cups, it is best to use a teapot with an accompanying infuser or a tea press. A larger strainer or tea filter bag can also be used when making multiple cups at once.
- To make four 8-ounce cups of tea using larger strainers, filter bags or a tea press, start by measuring out 4 teaspoons (about 8 grams) of loose leaf tea into the strainer/filter bag and attach it to the spout of your teapot or into your tea press.
- Boil enough water for all four cups, then slowly pour the hot water over the leaves in the strainer/filter bag for 2-4 minutes.
- Once finished steeping, remove the strainer/filter bag from your teapot and place it aside for future use. If you are using a tea press, press down to filter the tea leaves.
- Now you have four freshly brewed cups of tasty loose leaf tea!
No matter what type of vessel you choose when making multiple cups at once, be sure to adjust your steep time according to preferred taste. Still not sure which temperature or length to brew loose leaf tea variety? On each package of Clearview Tea you will find handy brewing instructions.
How to Make Iced Loose Leaf Tea
Making iced tea with loose leaf tea is a great way to cool down and enjoy a refreshing beverage. It is also beneficial as it allows to create more nuanced flavours that may not be apparent when drinking hot tea.
You will need to use the cold brew tea method. This can be achieved by adding 2-3 teaspoons of your desired loose leaf tea into a medium-sized pot or pitcher and then pouring in 6 cups of cold filtered water. Let steep for 8-12 hours in the refrigerator before straining out the leaves.
Once your cold brewed tea is ready, you can either serve it on its own over ice or mix it with other ingredients such as fruits or herbs for added flavour and complexity. For example, try muddling fresh strawberries with mint leaves in a glass, then pouring over the cold brewed tea. Or add in freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey for a subtle sweet and tart twist. Feel free to experiment with different combinations until you find something that suits your palate.
Tips for Making a Great Cup of Tea
Making loose leaf tea is an art form that requires patience and practice. Here are some tips to help ensure you get the best results every time:
- Use filtered water: Hard or softened water can negatively affect the taste of tea, so be sure to use filtered water whenever possible.
- Use fresh leaves: Tea that has been stored for too long can become stale and lose its aroma and flavour. It's best to use fresh leaves each time you make tea. Check the expiry on the package before brewing.
- Choose high quality loose leaf tea: Not all loose leaf teas are created equal. Choose a high-quality tea for the best results.
- Do not over steep: Depending on the type of tea, such as black teas, over-steeping can make your tea bitter. Start with a shorter steep time and adjust accordingly until you find the strength and flavour you prefer.
- Warm up your mug or tea pot before steeping: Pre-warming your mug or teapot will help to maintain a consistent temperature. This ensures an even infusion of tea blends throughout the steeping process.
- Cover your tea while steeping: Covering your tea while it steeps will help to retain heat and accentuate the flavours.
By following these tips (and drinking tea regularly!), you can become an expert on making loose leaf tea in no time. There's nothing quite like taking the time to create a delicious cup for yourself or others – so give it a try and see what you can do. Happy steeping!