To begin your journey in the world of true tea is to truly appreciate the beauty of loose leaf teas.
What is loose leaf tea?
Loose leaf tea is whole leaf tea usually withered, rolled, oxidized, and packaged without cutting the tea leaves into smaller pieces. When introduced to warm water, the dried leaves unfurl with a slow dance.
If your tea of the day is black loose leaf tea or oolong loose leaf tea, then your brew will be darker revealing hues of late twilight. The leaves that unfurl in your cup will tell you the tales of change and its beauty.
If your tea of the day is anything else like green loose leaf tea or white loose leaf tea, then your brew will change colors only in the slightest. White teas, under the light, tend to look like sun rays peeking through the window. Green teas remind me of peeking at the sun through a thick jungle canopy, everything lightly coated in the hues of the lively trees. The leaves in the infuser retain their original green color, as if to show just how much love and care the producer has put into retaining the memories within every single leaf.
Preparing a loose leaf tea with an infuser reminds me of watercolor painting.
But it took me a long time to get my hand on a Wall Tea Infuser. Wall Tea Infuser is a glass tea infuser cup that comes with an in-built tea strainer. It is a perfect beginner tool- a tea cup with infuser, that lets you enjoy the loose leaf tea without any hindrances.
I think I’d been working with Nepal Tea Collective for almost three months before I got in my hands on the infamously convenient tea cup with infuser. I’ve drank from that tea infuser cup every single day afterward.
This blog isn’t about the amazing qualities of Wall Tea Infuser (there are many) but about the long days before it. The pre-Wall Tea Infuser days were full of confusion and dare I say creative problem solving for my tea needs.
So before we get to that, let’s look at the infuser way;
How to prepare loose leaf tea with the Wall-tea infuser, the perfect tea steeper cup?
With the Wall Tea infuser cup it’s actually a very intuitive process. You can replace all your loose leaf tea set with a single utensil. I don’t remember needing a manual to figure it out. It is, in my humble opinion, the best tea mug with infuser.
I heard someone say that a perfect design is self-explanatory but it wasn’t until I held the cup in my hand that I witnessed it. It’s literally just scooping some loose leaf tea and pouring some water and drinking as soon as two seconds later.
It’s that simple.
How NOT to prepare loose leaf tea with normal infusers?
I’m not saying normal infusers aren’t a perfect design. I’m not saying that yet I struggled a little bit to perfect the nuanced logic of infusing the loose leaf tea.
Loose leaf teas aren’t like the CTC teas. They don’t retain their dry shape when mixed with water. The leaves unfurl with water to tease out the caffeine, the flavors, and the colors.
With greed to have the ultimate cup of tea, I jam-packed my loose leaf tea into the infuser and clamped it shut. I must confess, I had to ignore the loud crunch of the tea leaves under the pressure of my palm.
I dunked the fully loaded infuser into the cup with warm water and waited. I waited for 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and even 10 but nothing really happened. Little color was trickling out of the infuser holes and my tea was nowhere ready.
When I opened the infuser, the leaves were still dry!
I had shoved so many tea leaves into the infuser that there was no room for water to dance with the loose leaf tea. My tea was essentially just water.
So how do you prepare tea with an Infuser?
I sidestepped my greed and filled only one-half of the tea infuser or tea steeper with the loose leaf tea. Signaling my own growth, the loose leaf tea danced inside the infuser.
The more I dunked or swiveled the water, the better flavor the tea leaves gave me.
The bounty was beautiful. Infusers were an invention of the people, for the people!
But how does one prepare loose leaf tea without an infuser?
Remember I told you, I had to live many months without an infuser? I don’t know why I just didn’t order one for myself, but I didn’t. I can be mysterious like that.
I would also like to point out that by this time, I was working almost full hours in the tea world. I had been redoing the Nepal Tea Collective website and adding in my own experiences with the teas wherever I could. I was supposed to be drinking tea every day and writing about them too.
So here’s how I went by.
Method 1: Classic sieve and strainer
Before I entered the world of loose leaf tea, I did drink a lot of CTC tea. It is what is easily available and there’s little to no market for loose leaf orthodox tea in Nepal despite them being in high demand all over the world.
I didn’t even know what orthodox tea was.
So I had a strainer in handy.
I simply steeped the loose leaf tea in one cup and strained it into another cup when I felt the color and aroma were just right!
Simple and easy.
Method 2: Steep it, Drink it
I admit I can be a bit lazy. So there were days when going to the kitchen and getting the tea strainer, then warming the water and waiting was a bit too much.
So, I would just leave the tea leaves in lukewarm or even cold water and get to work. I knew the tea was ready when all the leaves had sunk in the bottom of the cup, nice and easy out of the way.
Method 3: Cotton Cloth infuser
Now I didn’t really try this method because as I mentioned earlier, I am lazy. But on days, I felt uber active, I did consider this. I knew it was possible to make a DIY infuser/ tea bag of your own.
Cut a piece of cheesecloth cloth roughly the size of 3 inches by 3 inches. Remember you should make it a bit larger for your tea leaves to expand otherwise you’ll just end up making the mistake that I made.
Scoop your desired amount of loose leaf tea inside it. Now, tie the corners to close the mouth.
Now pour hot water in a cup.
Dip your tea bag inside it and enjoy your cup of tea
No infuser, no problem! You have your loose leaf tea ready!