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Back when I was western style brewing everything I used this extensively
Basket like /u/picklechip5 is quite handy. Depending on the model and size of it, it can be used for single cup, gongfu style brewing, and for huge pot.
I use it with small 2dl cup when I want 1 cup with western style brewing, I also use it with same 2dl cup if I want 2 smalelr cups with gongfu style. It is not has handy to to use in gongfu style as teaware meant for gongfu, but it allows you to experiment and try out it.
If you want basket that fits all kinds of purposes, I would suggest rather tall one.
I have medium version of this one. Medium is sometimes too small, and it does not reach bottom of the cup if I use it for gongfu style. But then again, you couldnt be able to cover the cup with plate or other lid if you use large one.
Also, this kind of basket can be later used as a strainer when you get teapot.
Definitely a (good) cheese plane and a microplane grater, as mentioned below. Also mentioned mandoline and immersion blender (if only for making homemade mayo, but also handy for partly pureeing soups and stews to make them thicker).
few others off the top of my head:
...probe thermometer (for cooking meats primarily in oven)
...instant read thermometer (for cooking meats in skillet or anywhere)
...metal egg slicer (also works for quickly slicing whole mushrooms)
...all-silicone spatulas (for cooking especially)
...pressure cooker--I have regular stovetop type (at least for making homemade chicken stock from bones, but can do much more and cuts cooking time for anything a lot)
...rice cooker (even a cheapie one)
...wire mesh tea brewing basket, like this, e.g.:
I have 3, two 24 oz and a 45 oz. I love them. The infuser on the 45 oz is too small, so I use a large Finum basket instead.
I like the 24 ounce for teas that can be brewed in volume- blacks and herbals, mainly. I use smaller glass pots for teas that can be resteeped, like oolong. The Forlife pots look great, are easy to pour from, have nice brewing baskets (on the 24 oz), they're durable, and the gasket on the lid keeps it in place both with and without the basket.
Having recently transitioned from bagged to loose tea, I enjoy it. Their Irish Breakfast is great, and their English Breakfast is also very good. The Earl Grey is pretty good, albeit a bit finicky. I've found the spiciness of the bergamot (both aroma and taste) is at its best if steeped for 3.5 minutes using about 1 and 1/3 tsp per 8 oz., which is not how Twinings suggests making it. Their Lady Grey is fantastic.
Also, you may want to invest in a very fine mesh infuser, if you haven't already. British distributors tend to have very small leaves, apparently to maximize the caffeine content of the steeped tea, which does result in some tea dust. I've gotten great use out of this one, which comes in a couple sizes and colors: [link]
Others like this will do well too. I highly recommend them. If you can afford the loose leaves you can afford the basket. I actually got mine for about 7 bucks from a local retailer (I was surprised they were 10 on amazon TBH).
I use this in my teapot, or the medium one in an individual mug. Works perfectly and solves almost every one of your problems. Taking it out is easy because the top is plastic and the lid acts as a drip tray. This is the most important part for me because it solves the prepared tea storage issue with only one vessel. Also, I've found that the tea does have plenty of room to expand, though I'm sure it has a little bit more freedom in the press.
While some say any tea ball is a bad tea ball... they're not all horrible, and it depends on how much you are brewing. A single 8oz cup would have the leaves nicely fit in the ball and have room to expand.
As far as recommendations, I don't have any, sorry - but I can say that buying an infuser basket is just as convenient and tends to let the leaves open up a bit more, giving a better flavor typically. There are already posts on this, but here is my favorite.
As others are saying, a larger basket type infuser will make better tea. This is the one I use almost daily.
If you're set on something more like a tea ball, I used this one here and it's really nice. It's still small and doesn't allow the leaf to expand as much as a larger basket, but it works well for its size. It never leaked any leaf particles into my cup and the locking mechanism is easy to work and never opened up in my cup.
Get a brewing basket with super fine mesh such as this.
If you can only own one infuser strainer, it should be this one:
Oh, tea infuser. I have one of those.
Would this work too? [link]
I already have this.
I was looking for a new filter, something like This but now I'm really looking into the Perfectea steepers. Thank you!
To brew loose leaf you would need a teapot with an infuser basket or for brewing in a mug you would use a brew basket like this
I've been using Finum Brewing Baskets for the last decade or so for brewing one cup of tea at a time. The fine mesh is easy to clean if you rinse is out right after steeping. The large one is ideal for most mug sizes. I find the medium-sized basket to be a little too small for mugs larger than 10 oz.
EDIT: If you're looking for a decent and affordable tea pot, Hario makes some good ones. Despite the glass looking thin, it's actually quite sturdy.
Ceramic might hold heat better than a glass pot, but I doubt that you would get a noticeable improvement in the quality of the tea just from changing pots.
I don't think you need to upgrade, but if you want to purchase some extra pots to play around with, then that's cool.
I would recommend getting a brewing basket if you're getting another pot, tho. That gives you the flexibility to get any pot instead of restricting yourself to ones with built in baskets. Finum is a popular choice but there are other options. I like mine because now I can use cheap teapots I find at thrift stores for a couple of dollars.
Upton Tea has a decently cheap selection of teapots with infusers. It looks like these are on sale. They have other styles here.
You can also find a lot on Amazon. Just check reviews.
Gravity steeper? Like this?
Sample, sample, sample. You'll find what you like (There's so much to like! Match your mood!).
Here's a sampling of high-mountain oolong:
(Yeah, weird name but great tea)
Think about getting a variable-temperature kettle or an inexpensive thermometer. Stay away from tea balls and other tea-making stuff you find in grandma's kitchen; none of them are large enough to allow proper steeping. I use an Ingenuitea from Adagio or a gold-mesh infuser like this one:
The medium size fits into most mugs.
Good luck, and welcome!
I've had both. I'd go with the Green...it's a good introduction to teas in general, though it won't last beyond two rebrews. Though if you had it already, what do you like about them so we could give you better recommendations on what else to get?
For greens, 170 degrees, 1 minute or so in an infuser is good. At the store, they give you little chemistry-like sets if you want gaiwan (gongfu's typically for black teas), or a Finum infuser (I prefer and use ForLIFE's one) if you want to brew easily. Blacks brew at 190 or higher, and can be resteeped multiple times if it's good enough quality and a strong enough flavor.
Assuming for Western style brewing -
Finum is larger (even though it says pot sized it works best in a single cup or mug) and the mesh is finer, keeping more particles out of your tea. Buy the large size. Only downside is it contains plastic, but that doesn't seem to affect the taste.
ForLife is a little smaller (which means less room for the tea leaves to expand) and the holes are larger. The size is still acceptable, though, and this filter is entirely metal. Buy this infuser if you are set against having plastic in contact with your tea.
I'm a big fan of this one. Well priced, easy to clean, and a very fine mesh.
These ones are pretty widely recommended.
Bags are a lot more convenient than loose leaf teas, but I've found that the right setup makes it very easy to brew loose leaf at the office.
For a while, I was using the Finum brewing basket, and that worked very well, but it sat on the drip tray on my desk after I was done brewing, and could cause a mess if knocked over.
Last week, my gf got me this Aladdin tea infuser mug, and it is awesome. it has a basket inside, so you just fill that up with loose leaf tea, fill the container with water, and put the lid on / drop the basket and your tea brews. When it's done, just flip a lever and the basket goes up into the lid so your tea doesn't over steep. When you're ready to make another cup, just dup the tea from the basket into the trash and refill it.
The only problem is if you're going from two very different tasting teas, you might want to rinse the basket out. I have access to a sink at work, so it's not a huge deal for me, but it might be for some.
EDIT: fixed links
For that amount of tea drinking, perhaps consider just an infuser.
This one or this one are both nice.
The reason I suggest the infuser is because for 2-3 cups of tea, you can resteep. Instead of brewing it all at once, boil a kettle, put enough for the cup you are using into the infuser, and brew. Remove the infuser and use it again for the next cup or two.
I bought a 4 cup pot initially, but I use my infuser a lot more frequently because I can reuse the tea and have a hot cup each time. I can't tell from the link what size the infuser in that pot is, but it might work in a cup and make everything I just said moot.
Sorry if this came across as one of those replies that says 'don't do what said you want to do', I just know that I bought a pot and use it a lot less often than the infuser- I have the second one linked.
My vote goes to a gaiwan, but really it depends. Do you want to make a pot of tea and constantly pour yourself more as you go about your day, or do you mind taking the time to steep your tea fresh for each cup?
For instance, I use a 2.5 cup teapot when I'm making black tea to have with sweets and savories, or jasmine tea to have with sushi, etc. I would never put a really good tea in a large teapot like that, though, because no matter how well it's strained, hot tea will continue to change and strengthen after it is done brewing. Your last cup will never be the same as your first.
A one-cup teapot would be a better bet, but if you're going to make one cup at a time, you might as well just use a large gaiwan. A gaiwan is flexible - you can use it to brew gongfu style or Western style; you'll just end up with less tea from each infusion.
I guess after rambling for a minute, I think you should buy a gaiwan and an in-cup infuser like a large Finum brew basket or a ForLife infuser. That way you'll have the best of both worlds, provided you aren't wanting large quantities of tea to drink off of while you're doing something else.
Some of them are like that. I use ones like this because I find them easier to clean.
I really recommend Rishi's Earl Grey (Ancient Tree series). It's not terribly expensive and is by far the best Earl Grey that I've had. If this is her first venture into loose leaf teas, I recommend you also add in a brewing basket, I have this Finum brewing basket and I love it (there are different sizes so you'll have to figure that out). Throw in a nice mug and possibly another tea (like a green for variety) and you'll have a nice gift set.
Rishi also has a gift set that includes two teas and a brewing basket but it's out of stock at the moment.