Tea bags are convenient, but aren’t necessarily the best way to make an amazing cup of tea. The tea is ground very small—sometimes so small it’s basically dust—which can lead to over-steeping and a bitter aftertaste. Loose leaf teas, on the other hand, allow for the leaf to fully unfurl and come into extended contact with the water releasing all of the flavors and aromas that you want from tea. Loose-leaf can seem intimidating, but it’s actually really easy to make. Here’s how to get started.
Heat Your Water
This Bonavita kettle can help you make the perfect cup of tea. Bonavita
There’s no real magic to heating water; you could do it in a pan on the stove, in a microwave, or a traditional kettle. But electric kettles are neat and clean, and bring your water to your desired temperature very quickly. For tea, it’s ideal to have a kettle that allows you to heat water to specific temperatures, because different teas have different needs. Delicate green teas can be burned with boiling water, but strong black teas almost require it. This Bonavita kettle is beloved, partly for its reliable temperature control.
A Secret Brewing Weapon
This French press makes one big mug of tea. Bodum
There are many different vessels for making loose leaf tea. A “gaiwan” is traditional in China, for example, and there are lots of specialized tea makers on the market. But here’s a secret: you don’t really need any of those! A French press is a perfect way to make loose leaf tea: It’s an efficient way to keep tea leaves freely floating in water and to completely strain them out. Plus, you can use it for coffee too, and we love a multipurpose gadget.
A Great First Tea
This rich black tea features delicate floral notes. Harney & Sons
Now, of course, the question is: where do you get loose leaf tea? It can be fun to build a collection: funky oolong from China, astringent Assam from India, clean sencha from Japan. But if you’re coming from American tea bags, give this English Breakfast from Harney & Sons a try. Harney & Sons is an American producer of fantastically high-quality teas, and this particular one is a nice strong black tea. You’ll be amazed at the improvement over a typical tea bag.