Loose leaf or Tea Bags?


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Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Elwood » Oct 1st, '09, 10:59

I'm in such a conundrum here. My tea bags very rarely stay fresh, and despite being stored in a cool, air tight, dark container they still don't taste as fresh as when i first brought them home.

I try different water temperatures too, to no avail. So I considered loose leaf tea, but it seems with that the problem comes on infusing it, which requires an infuser.

But surely an infuser gives the same results as a tea bag and restricts the taste?! So which is better, if an infuser restricts it as much as a tea bag does, I may as well stick with using a tea bag.

Please advise me, I'm lost in a world of confusing tea methods!
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby olivierco » Oct 1st, '09, 11:09

Loose tea and a teapot (or a gaiwan) so that the leaves have room to expand.
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Chip » Oct 1st, '09, 11:12

Teabags are generally low quality teadust that lose freshness very quickly. But even fresh, they cannot compare to a good loose leaf.

Go for it, give it a try! There are many ways to steep loose leaf including the infuser basket which is a good starting point.
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Elwood » Oct 1st, '09, 11:38

so will any old infuser do the job or need it be a special one? Don't want a metal infuser to alter the taste of my tea. I will go buy some loose leaf just as soon as I finish up my last batch of tea bags. Don't want to waste money. Might use them to make some iced tea actually.

Oh and I ask what infusers are best, as im not going to use a teapot to make my tea. Means im obligated to drink three or four cups of it in one sitting then! Although, that still leaves the tea leaves in the pot doesn't it? Wont that make the tea far too strong, by leaving them in there?
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby virago_ns » Oct 1st, '09, 12:03

Brew in a small pot :D
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Ebtoulson » Oct 1st, '09, 12:09

there are several different types of teapots/infusers out there, so if your worried about having to drink 4 cups at one time then don't. The infuser also depends on which kind of brewing your going to do: western or gongfu. Since it sounds like your already used to western brewing here are some options: an ingenuiTea or equivalent, a small english teapot (there are some out there fairly small), or an infuser/basket that sits inside a cup. The teapots normally have baskets in them that can be removed to prevent oversteeping. I have some form of all three methods mentioned and I have to say I really only recommend the ingenuiTea, which I still use today.

If you do decide to get the ingenuiTea then make sure you select the starter kit under gifts. You get the pot and tea samples for the sample price you would if you just bought the ingenuiTea.
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby kymidwife » Oct 1st, '09, 12:43

I prefer not to use an infuser at all when I brew. My kyusu and smaller clay pots have built in filter/strainers which is nice. When I do a traditional Western brew in a larger glass or porcelain pot, I put loose leaf in the pot... add my water... steep... and pour through a simple stainless steel mesh kitchen strainer I picked up at Walmart. If I am making more tea than I can put in my cup at the time, I just decant it to another pot. I have never found an infuser that I liked... I like my leaf to be free to unfurl and swirl. :)

I also use Adagio's IngenuiTea quite a bit... it is great, but I don't suggest putting flavored teas in it because it's hard to get the flavor out of the filter. Other than that, I really like the IngenuiTea. Some steer away from using plastic brewing vessels, but I think it's a great little gadget.

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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Elwood » Oct 1st, '09, 12:45

I did debate making the tea in one pot, with the leaves floating free, then pouring through a strainer into my drinking cup. Its just, by the end of that you've got two cups to wash up and a strainer! Call me lazy, but its a bit of work!
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby kymidwife » Oct 1st, '09, 12:53

Anything worth doing.. is worth doing right. ;) I'm a very casual, relaxed brewer, not a Type-A stickler for every detail. But, I gave up on the path of least resistance when I really got into drinking tea... and now the process of brewing is part of the pleasure of tea for me. Plus, the improvement on quality with the extra effort is really huge, and that makes it all worthwhile.

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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Intuit » Oct 1st, '09, 13:11

You have several options. The easiest is to buy a larger tea mug and use a large infuser basket that just fits inside it. Thats the first step up from teabag hell.

If you haven't had loose leaf tea before, you're in for a treat! Please considering clicking on the Adagio logo in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window to take you to the storefront site, so that can begin familiarizing yourself with the many excellent teas available from our host.

The next step up from a mug is to use a teapot that is designed to brew looseleaf tea. The simplest design is a plastic pot in which you add tea and water, let it brew and dispense it through a port at the bottom directly into your cup. That's the IngenuiTEA, mentioned by EB, and made and sold by our host Adagio. About as convenient as an infuser and cup, but a step up because it makes full use of the vessel volume for infusing larger leaved teas. You can purchase the ingenuiTea as a starter kit.

http://www.adagio.com/gifts/holiday_ingenuiTEA.html

Your next option takes a bit more effort. It's a small 2-cup inexpensive porcelain teapot. You can purchase your pot with ceramic or stainless steel infuser baskets, you can purchase a plastic-and-nylon mesh version if your new teapot lacks an infuser, or you can go the old-fashioned route and use a small, handled strainer to remove tea leaves at the spout when you pour up your tea.

A little extra effort can yield a wonderful cup of tea, typically far better fare than can be had with inexpensive teabags. The cost isn't much higher, nor the effort much more than using a teabag.

Don't worry about unfamiliar teaware terms, like 'gongfu' or 'kyusu'. Let's keep it simple to avoid confusion and start with small steps.

Welcome to the world of Real Tea.

Since you are here, why not introduce yourself in the new member introduction section of TeaChat?

One more thing: there is a downloadable free tea timer that sits on your computer desktop. On the Adagio website, it sits just under the teaytpe banner at the top right of the home page. Once you download the timer and open it, you can select from a wide assortment of classic tea blends and pure leaf teas, set the timer and hit 'start'. You want to avoid overbrewing your tea to keep it from tasting bitter.
Last edited by Intuit on Oct 1st, '09, 13:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby geeber1 » Oct 1st, '09, 13:11

I second Sarah's suggestion on the IngenuiTea. If you get the big one, you can use it to make larger amounts for iced tea as well as one or two cups.

The PersonaliTea (also from Adagio) is a nice little pot also. I use it almost every day for smaller-leaved teas. It has a removable infuser so you can use it for both small/broken and full-leaf teas.

In a pinch I have used a Pyrex measuring cup with a plate over the top to brew tea. Whatever method you use, loose-leaf will give you such better quality you'll never want to go back to bags!

If you stick around here long enough, you'll learn so many tricks you'll be a pro in no time! :D
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Rainy-Day » Oct 12th, '09, 00:48

I use two large glass pots. This means one more pot to wash but it's easy because it has no leaves in it and I think once you're washing a pot it doesn't make much difference, one or two. Straining to cups is no good because 2nd/3rd cup will cool down quickly, and it's easier to take a pot and a cup with you than 3 cups.
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Re: Loose leaf or Tea Bags?

Postby Brinson » Oct 14th, '09, 16:08

A smaller strainer, ie the size of a spoon, would be helpful. Then you could just manually get the tea out when it is done.
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