Question about leaf tea


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Question about leaf tea

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Jul 21, 2010, 1:17 pm

This may be a silly question, but I am from the American south, where traditionally people only drink "sweet tea", which is made in an entirely different way.

I have been a hot tea drinker for several years now, and I've almost always used tea bags. I received two packs of loose tea that came in a carved wooden box I bought, and I've tried using it a few times. I even purchased one of those tea strainers that you sit on top of your tea cup from someone in Britain off of ebay. I put the leaves in the pot and pour the hot water over it. When it's ready, I pour the tea through the strainer into my cup. The problem is, it is such a mess to clean out of the pot. I end up having to rinse most of it down the drain in the sink because it's so hard to get out.

Question: How do you prepare loose tea? What am I doing wrong? There must be a better way!

Jul 21, 2010, 1:34 pm

Well, you're not doing it wrong, but there are neater ways to do it. Some teapots come with a strainer that sits down inside the pot, so when the tea is brewed you just remove the strainer, leaves and all. You may be able to find a strainer that fits your teapot.

I often brew tea one mug at a time, with a strainer that sits down inside the mug, and works the same as described above.

The Chatsford line of teapots and mugs come with their own strainers, and have a special notch at the rim of the pot to allow the tab to stick out so you can take hold of it:

Jul 21, 2010, 1:35 pm

P.S. Not a silly question!

Jul 22, 2010, 5:05 am

With small hands you can scoop out most of the spent leaves (once the pot has cooled down!) or use a spoon. They make excellent compost. If you have one of those waste disposal unit things, then washing them down the drain is fine. It does depend a bit on the leaf size, a small leaf loose tea can be a bit tricky! But no worse than ground coffee in a cafetierre.

The Bodem range of glass teapots with removable filters are stylish and very effective.

Jul 22, 2010, 11:22 am

Thanks for the tips! I love those teapots on the devotea site. I wish they had a red one, but I'll probably go with white.

Jul 22, 2010, 11:35 am

I second the bodem press pots. Very useful, and you don't have to remove the strainer until you are done drinking the tea. I have also been using the ingenuiTEA, which is nice for single cups in the office. It isn't as easy to clean as they claim, but it isn't bad.

Jul 26, 2010, 4:09 pm

After we have drunk our tea, we add more water to loosen the used leaves and in Summer/dry weather go out into the garden and empty the tea pot over the plants, especially roses and the tomatoes.

If it is wet we strain the tea leaves and put them in our compost box and empty them with all the veggie pealings into one of the three compost bins.

Editado: Jul 26, 2010, 7:11 pm

1> Hi indigosky -- although I brew tea by whatever method is available, at home I prefer to pour the boiling (or near boiling) water over the best loose leaf tea possible. Like reading_fox, I usually scoop it out and use for composting. You might be interested in this article about using garbage disposals; it might not be an environmentally friendly way to dispose of the leaves.

7> PixieMum, thanks for the tip! I plan to water tomatoes this way from now on. Unfortunately, it's too warm for roses here.

ETA: As a second choice, I prefer paper filters over the mesh or other tea balls (although they're less environmentally friendly than the reusable tea balls).

Jul 29, 2010, 5:24 pm

I shop at Cost Plus and purchase empty tea bags, which are larger than the store-bought variety. I fill them half way for one cup of tea they work great. I noticed some local coffee shops are using these for their loose tea as well.

Ago 28, 2013, 1:08 pm

I'm looking for a source for loose leaf tea after reading some alarming things about what may actually be in the bag, not just contaminants in the tea. I'd prefer not to buy on line, so suggestions are welcome. I'm in the southern US, land of sweet iced tea.

Ago 28, 2013, 2:22 pm


I think you can find Twinings everywhere. I don't remember buying any other loose-leaf tea in supermarkets in Louisiana. I was also getting tea from the Republic of Tea (California) and Upton Tea (Massachusetts). Strictly paper catalogue/phone service at the time, although now I buy from Upton online.

Editado: Ago 29, 2013, 2:22 am

My husband and I use these for brewing both coffee and tea.  We assign different colors to different beverages; one for coffee, green tea, black tea, and floral.

Ago 29, 2013, 8:39 am

I've got 3 tea balls and one of the ingueniTEA things, but I've found it's not worth the bother. I just add loose tea to a mug and pour hot water over it. Good green tea doesn't get bitter, and I like my tea the stronger the better. You get to appreciate how the leaves unwind this way.

Ago 29, 2013, 4:43 pm

I use those finum baskets, too. The best thing I have found for loose tea.

Editado: Ago 30, 2013, 12:25 pm

>10 varielle: I get my loose leaf tea from (though I just go to the store, which is nearby). Many great choices. (not sure whether or not they ship internationally, for those who might not be in the U.S.)

I think everyone else has covered the various brewing methods, though I would advise against those little tea balls . . . they don't provide enough room for the leaves to expand.

I will add one thing I learned from the folks at Teasource . . . how to quickly decaffeinate your own tea! (They have decaf teas, but I didn't like the flavor, or lack thereof.) I use a mug with the screen mesh insert to hold the leaves. I boil enough water for two cups. I pour enough water over the leaves to just cover them . . . and let it sit for 10-15 SECONDS . . . then dump that tea (but not the leaves) down the drain. The leaves are now decaffeinated (or at least decaffeinated enough for me) . . . now you can cover them with water and brew a cup as usual (which for me is 3-5 minutes).


Ago 30, 2013, 1:51 pm

>15 LucindaLibri:
No!! Blasphemy!! ;D

My roommate does that to her tea. I brought a lot of tea back from China to give to people... and she doesn't get any. Tea must be treated like fine wine.

No reason that wouldn't work well enough though. I looked up the solubility of caffeine and it's 67.0 g/100 mL at 100 degrees Celsius. Salt is 38.99g/100 mL.

Ago 30, 2013, 2:33 pm

>16 Settings: Trust me, this is not done willingly . . . doctor's orders :( but at least I can still enjoy my tea . . . :)

Ago 30, 2013, 7:18 pm

Hi, Lucinda, I'm in the same boat :-(

Being able to do a rough decaffeination on my favorite teas has been a godsend. It does sound appalling, though, to toss the first brew away!