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Yes, but imo cold brew tea is better cold.
No. This won't improve brewing at all and you'll get tea dust everywhere.
Depends on where you are. I like Twinings for bagged tea. For loose leaf... dragon well and tieguanyin, can't really go wrong there, and then there are some really good cheap "golden needle" or "yunnan black" type teas. What-cha if you're British, yunnan sourcing if you're not... upton, adagio, and some others are all good for flavored teas too.
Get a basket infuser like this (that one's one of the nicer pricier ones, imo they're all the same so find one that suits you). Fill it with different amounts of leaves depending on how much tea you're gonna make. It should fit right into a mug or a thermos.
Pay close attention to brew time and water temperature. Those matter! At some point if you stick around you'll pick up the difference between Western and Eastern brewing styles. For now, stick to western (what you've been doing).
It's funny, I didn't even realize Finum made coffee filters, although that should have been obvious.
Instead I was referring to their very popular Finum basket infuser tea filter, which works perfectly for even very fine tea fragments.
I use this [link]
I have the medium size at home (perfect for a single coffee-mug size)
and the large size at work (perfect for a travel mug)
Basket infuser. That, hot water, a mug, and some leaf.
Try steeping the leaf more than once, and if the result is worth drinking (to you), then don't throw it away after 1 steep. Probably it won't be, if you are brewing broken tea, but try it.
I use, and really like, this brewing basket. I like it so much in fact that I keep one at home and one at the office. I'd be curious to hear other's thoughts on it, as I've only recently begun getting into drinking tea. Finum Brewing Basket
Ok, that provides a great starting point. Either get a basic, unflavored, tea sampler with classic black teas and maybe a jasmine green tea or go with the herbal sampler.
Since they both consume plenty of coffee, they'll be used to bolder flavors and are fine with higher caffeine (like in those breakfast blends). They also probably already have favorite cups. lol
If you and your family want to venture into loose leaf teas eventually, this finum infuser with any mug is about as hassle free as one can get.
For some easy mug infusing, a brewing basket like this is a nice thing to have. Brewing tea this way is about as easy as throwing in a teabag, and you can use any tea you like.
I use this tea strainer everyday now. Works perfectly for mugs. I even brew for 2 people each time, just gotta steep the leaves twice. Currently $9, though every time I've bought it, it's been between $6-$7. I'll use teapots still too sometimes - but I find myself using this 98% of the time
Finum Brewing Basket, medium , black [link]
Teavana has a 2oz minimum per over priced tea (often mid range quality at best). If you want to pay that much, it's up to you. All samples they offer in store for you to try will be made with a lot of leaf and sugar. Their instructions tell you to use a lot less leaf.. They tend towards a lot of flavored teas - like Starbucks tends towards selling highly flavored coffees. (Starbucks owns Teavana)
An easy to use introductory infuser is one like a Finum that will work for any in-cup steeping you want to do. It's easy to clean, can be put in a dishwasher, and it gives a good amount of room for leaves to expand. (my husband uses one) But the plastic on it can pick up flavoring off of flavored teas.
If you want Assam and more traditional black teas, Upton tea (online vendor) has some. These aren't my preferred teas, so someone who likes them will have to weigh in whether Upton's offerings are good. Shipping is a flat $4.95 and they have samples of everything they sell. I think they also sell Finum baskets for a reasonable price.
This is the one I use and I adore it. It fills up an average size mug so your leaves have plenty of room to expand. The mesh keeps all particles out of my cup, and the cover acts as a convenient spot to keep the leaves when not in use so you don't get your countertop/desk wet.
Here's something I wrote in a similar post from the day after this one:
I'm lazy and don't use as many spices in my black tea "chai" as you do, but I have several versions of "Pumpkin Pie Spice" that have many of the same spices. I just sprinkle in one of the PPS's, and use a milk frother to mix the very dry powdered spices pretty easily. Sometimes I'll add another spice if not in the PPS, like cardamom, more ginger, etc.
Before I went low carb, I'd add milk and sugar to each strongly brewed** cup of black tea. Now I sometimes use milk or cream, sometimes not, and add only a tad of sugar (unfortunately can't tolerate any of the alternative sweeteners), and also add coconut oil sometimes (don't particularly like butter in this as I would in BPC).
Great flavors, and has always made me feel almost like I'd "eaten" a snack!
** I steep a fair amt of tea leaves in a mesh tea basket, for about 5 min with 3/4 cup of very hot water:
[link] (I have the "large" one)
> How do the infusers work with the dunking?
Just pour the hot water over it and let it sit (OK, sometimes I will dunk mine once or twice if some leaves didn't get wet, or there's a lot of foamy scum floating on top). When it's done, pull the infuser out and let it drip back into the mug/pot/whatever until it pretty much stops dripping.
> It says you can have multiple infusions so do you...
Not all tea is really suited to that. Sometimes 1 infusion pretty much gets all the good stuff out. Ususally it's tea in big pieces or whole leaves that is good for this. As you say, just set the used leaf aside in the infuser and use it again with fresh hot water.
> which infusers would you recommend
Ones that are basked-shaped, with fine mesh, and big enough to let the leaf unfold/unroll/expand. Something like this.
Use this. [link] Finum brewing basket. I use it at work and when I am out and about and have a limited space for storing things in my backpack. Combined with an alcohol or propane stove for heating water when camping, you should be pretty much good to go.
These are great [link]
Upton tea is my favorite US based retailer. They offer samples of just about all of their teas.
Stay away from tea balls, they don't allow the tea to expand properly. I'd recommend something like this [link]
I use a Finum brewing basket to make single cups at work. Very similar flavor and extraction to French Press. You can find them on Amazon. I use medium size as it fits in a mug perfectly.
Uhhh quick question if you don't mind. I'm looking at getting a loose tea filter that I can put in a mug. Does that sound good? Specifically, I'm looking at this one: [link] I assume this would work well. It seems to be rather commonly suggested by blogs, etc so I figured it was a good starter item since it's cheap.
> ingenuitea tea maker
I had one of those, and the same thing made by Teavana, and they fell out of use in favor of a simple Finum tea strainer: Amazon link
What tea have you had before and liked? Maybe I can give you some recommendations. I did my first order from adagio and rather liked it. Adagio is a good first website, as it does a good job making all the types of tea not seem overwhelming.
In order to start brewing, you're gonna need a way to heat up water, a brewing vessel, and some leaves. The way to heat up water can be as simple as the microwave or as complex as a zojirushi water dispenser. I'd recommend a stove-top kettle with a food thermometer or a variable temp electric kettle. As for the brewing vessel, it depends on how many people you're brewing for. I would recommend starting with a cup infuser like this, but there are plenty of ways to brew tea. And the leaves can be bought in many stores online or in person. If you're lucky enough to live close to a tea shop, I'd advise you to take a trip over, but I'd probably avoid teavana until you know a little more and can avoid their sales techniques.
Skip the tea ball, it doesn't have nearly as much room to expand as as you said, it gets really hot.
Go with something like a brew basket.
The top serves as a place to set your basket as you let it drip out before you dump it. It is durable and if it starts to get nasty a nice soak in half boiling water, half white vinegar cleans it right up. Because you're not hanging it in the waste basket, no worries about it getting tossed out.
I've had mine for 3 or so years now and it is STILL going strong. I usually use it 5-10 times a day. They were cheaper when I got mine, but still, for $10 it is a great deal (they also have a lot of other products if you want something else similar).
I have a teapot that looks like that, mine is a bit taller (using face for scale) and I often use my medium fineum brew basket in it. Quite a good fit and the infuser is the finest filter I have come across, you have to leave the lid open or pop it off and set it on top since the fineum has plastic wings so it sits above the tea pot's rim but it's quite ideal.
I bought this when I was in a dorm and had to conserve space. It works great and I've had no problems with it!
The other basket appears to be a Finum Brewing Basket which also has a lid that doubles as a saucer.
Personally, I use one of these when brewing my tea.
I have 2 "favorites" (read: can't afford to try past what I already own) teas that I typically drink, which is Irish Breakfast and Cocomint (which is a rooibos, so I'm not sure if it can actually be called tea). For what teas you should go for, it would help to know what your tastes are (this can be considered a catch-22 as you can't really know what you like/don't like until you've tried it).
Are you looking for earthier teas, caffeinated teas, black tea, green tea, red tea, etc?
One suggestion I can offer is to find a local tea house. The one near me offers really cheap cups of tea which allows you to sample many teas in a relatively short amount of time. Plus, if you do find one tea you really like, they will most likely be able to offer up other flavors that are similar (kinda like the Pandora of teas!).
Some like having the tea leaves float, others use an infuser. It's really your preference. I would suggest this. I use it quite a bit when making tea for myself. Word of advice, tea places like Teavana (while having some fantastic tasting stuff) are incredibly expensive/overpriced. There are much smaller shops that sell loose leaf at perfectly reasonable prices. Davids TEA and Adagio are my personal favorite online tea shops.
is kind of the same thing, but slightly cheaper and looks nicer, it sits nicely on top of my mugs ( I use the medium sized one), plus the lid thing can be used to catch water when your done infusing, something the tea balls can not do. It also allows tea leaves to expand, which is why most people use tea balls.
This is greenwashing at its finest, they are only compostable in a municipal facility so if your area doesn't collect compostable waste and you try stick them in your compost heap they aren't going to break down. Buy a brewing basket, I've had mine for over 5 years and it's still going strong, one cup at a time.
Oh, I guess I linked the large size for one. Here's the medium.
I really like this for one quick cup [link]
Try to find a basket infuser that can fit into a mug. Like for example
Finum Reusable Stainless Steel Coffee and Tea Infusing Mesh Brewing Basket, Medium, Black [link]
Teasource is a great company you can order loose leaf tea from. Their basic stuff (earl grey, breakfast teas, simple oolongs) is like $6-10/4oz and the nice stuff goes to like $20/4oz.
I like very black teas like some Assam blends for mornings, and greener-oolongs in the afternoons with honey.
And also Harvey and Son’s “Paris” is my favorite bagged tea. Only floral black tea blend I like
Idk if you have a strainer for loose leaf already but they are cheap online and can take you to new places tea-wise. Nice metal ones with really small holes are best
Finum (63/421.50.00) Brewing Basket, medium , black [link]
Tea Infuser,Tea Strainer,2 PACK 304 Stainless Steel Water Filter with Double Handles for Hanging on Teapots, Mugs, Cups to steep Loose Leaf Tea and Coffee,Cold Brew Coffee Maker. FDA Approved. [link]
Something like this?
Skip the single-serving pot and get a mug with a lid, of which Amazon has a huge variety. You might also want a basket infuser with that.
THIS Finum brewing basket is decent (similar to the MSR version).
Try teas from different origin countries. Try the different major categories of tea (ignore "yellow tea" for the time being, if you're on a budget). Read the FAQ. Look at the vendor list. Avoid buying from vendors who have lots of stuff that's all very similar in price. Get a mug infuser. Get a cheap scale.
It doesn't have to be expensive.
I think a Finum basket should work pretty well.
We have a few that are great but aren't made anymore. I think this is sort of the successor:
I wish they made it with a metal rather than plastic frame, though.
I'm curious about this one--if you try it let me know how well it works:
I use this lightweight tea basket you can get for eight bucks on Amazon. Makes fantastic, french press quality coffee with vastly reduced mess.
this is why i use a removable basket filter in my large teapots, or otherwise use a very small teapot that only will fill one cup.
If you are using a lot of flavored teas you may want to look into something like this- [link]
and if you are drinking a lot of unflavored whole leaf teas, maybe a gaiwan would work well for you.
here is a nice primer- [link]
Those particular baskets I find in Asian grocery stores for like 1 or 2 USD. I bought mine at Kam Sen Foods in White Plains, NY. My home town has a large Vietnamese and Cambodian population so there are plenty of those around. Anywhere around NYC there are plenty of Chinese grocery stores you can find them at. I've never actually bothered to search online for them!
However the Finnum Basket and For Life are popular at my office and here on /r/Tea. There are nice pots with them built in like this Hario.
Before you go out and buy a lot of tea, only to find out it's not to your liking, explore your options a bit by trying out sampler packs.
A bunch of good samplers where linked to over here, but that's mostly for straight unblended teas.
I hardly drink flavoured teas myself, so I can't really give you any good recommendations on that, but perhaps someone else will chime in.
Adagio carries a lot of samplers, many of them containing fruity tea blends, so you might want to check that out.
If you don't have anything to steep your loose leaf in, I recommend picking up an infuser basket that allows you to brew directly in your cup/mug. If you end up liking hot tea, you can always invest in teapots and whatnot later. (And so begin the hopeless teaware addiction many of us suffer from!)
This, and this should do well. Avoid smaller infusers such as this, as your leaf needs the room to expand and interact with the water while steeping. A cramped infuser will not allow your leaf to do so, and may lead to an inferior brew.
> I think I will start with some fruity tea, is it acceptable to put honey/sugar into that?
It's your tea, you're free to drink it however you like it best. I do recommend steering away from your usual preferences every now and then to experiment a bit. There's a lot of different flavours to be found in straight tea, and it'd be a shame not to give it a shot. If you like it better with sweetener though, by all means drink it with sweetener.
> I had some tea bags but wasnt a huge fan, not very strong of a taste, would loose leaf tea be better?
Try pouring through one of these, brewing in one of these, or getting one of the aforementioned IngenuiTEA's.
Or, you know, you could just drink it if the needles that slip through don't bother you much. It basically comes down to personal preference, some people don't mind sediment and the odd bit of leaf getting past, and some absolutely want a clean cup!
This one is cheap and really easy to wash/use and pretty big!
I started with an IngenuiTEA but found it a little difficult to get the leaves out. It was also a little tough to clean, or to get the filter out, and I did have one mug that was very wide, so the IngenuiTEA wouldn't fit on top. I just had to hold it over the mug and press the bottom up with my finger for it to drain. It is really neat to use, though.
I now use this filter from David's Tea at work: David's Perfect Infuser
At home, I use a similar one I got from Amazon: Finum Brewing Basket
The latter two are similar to the KATI cup (I think) and I prefer them for being easier to dump/clean.
I prefer the thinner mesh on this one: [link]
I have the ForLife and Finum basket style infusers, and I like both, but for me, the Finum is far easier to clean.
Really I'd recommend getting a filter like this one and an electric kettle. They have some cheap ones (like ~$15) that you should be able to use in your dorm room. Just put water in and hit the button, it shuts off when it's done. There are more expensive ones that allow you to set the temperature which is nice for some of the more delicate green and white teas but in a dorm setting, I'd just go for something like this.
As for tea, I highly recommend anything from adagio. They also have some kettles but they are Stainless Steel and more expensive. They are also the makers of the IngenuiTea which you can get from them or elsewhere. My coworker has one and it's nice. I prefer the strainer I originally linked to because I can just store it in my mug and it doesn't take up that much space.
If you want to buy off amazon, I'd recommend this one. It's plastic (unlike the nice metal one kittypoopappledrink posted) but mine has held up pretty well. (I actually have 2, one at work and one at home).
The reason for the bigger strainer is it allows more space for the leaves to expand and impart their flavor to the water. If you are going to get a ball type strainer, I'd recommend the more open, meshy one.
A tip is to not let your tea steep too long or it can become quite bitter. The general rule is about 5 minutes, less for green or white teas.
I've been very happy with the teas I get from adagio which is highly recommended on /r/tea and for good reason. They also have some nice sampler packs so you can try different kinds of teas.
I'll also recommend an electric kettle of some sort. There's a bunch out there. I find it easier and quicker than using the microwave or the stove to try and heat water.
Just going to toss this out there, the sweetened Starbucks tea will be much different to a plain Japanese green tea or matcha. My husband can drink the Starbucks/other shops version but complains that my tea tastes like bitter vegetables and grass.
You might have better luck with mild Chinese green teas or, as was suggested, a Jasmine green tea since it is a sweet Chinese tea. It can be iced. Some of the greener oolongs are mild and sweetish, too. A milk oolong and oolongs in general are good for anyone that doesn't have much tea experience. (They can be easier to brew)
If she doesn't have tea ware or much experience with loose leaf (if you get her loose leaf) then you might look at a Finnum brewing basket. I know with my mother in law that she claims to really like tea but doesn't have much experience, interest, or patience for anything beyond bagged teas. Not everyone wants more then 1-2 step teas.
I have one of these I picked up from a thrift store for a buck. If you use coarse-ground coffee you don't really have to use a filter.