Tuesday, 15 November 2011

basic tea gear for a tea newcomer

Several weeks ago, I received a question from someone new to my blog.  It was just a general 'What's the best way to brew this stuff?' question, but my heart sank a bit when she indicated that she, her name's Elizabeth, only had teabags and really only wanted to brew up a cup at a time.

Nothing wrong with that, despite what Robert Godden might tell you, but once you've really been convinced about loose-leaf tea, it's difficult to get excited about teabags.  I've been suitably polite about how some teabags from some brands aren't that bad, but even I have a hard time actually believing it most of the time.

Today, I got another question from Elizabeth.  It was more along the lines of, 'How do I get into tea?'  Which really means, 'What sort of stuff do I need to do this right?'

I'm going to keep this blogpost as short as I can.  I 'd like to keep it as simple as possible.  One of the things I try to do with this blog is to pass exactly this sort of information on to people relatively new to tea.  Well, loose-leaf tea especially.

Firstly, I'll ask you loyal readers how you'd answer this question.  How would you introduce drinking tea brewed from whole leaf?

I use filter bags quite a lot.  Especially when I travel.  And I like to have them around for everyday use.  Especially with most black tea, I don't think it really matters.

But with any whole leaf tea, some enjoy watching the full leaves open up as they steep almost as much as they like actually drinking the tea.  For that, a glass teapot where the leaves can swim around freely would be ideal.  If you don't already have one, I'm not sure I'd recommend going out and getting one.

Let's make sure you like this tea drinking lark first, ok?

So my advice is to get a Finum Brewing Basket. The largest size is ideal because then you can make both smaller and larger amounts.  There are certainly other brands.  This is simply the one I know.  And I'd get that permanent tea filter basket first before choosing a teapot.  Just to make sure they fit one another.

Here's my Finum Brewing Basket

And what sort of pot?  I don't know what the rest of you think about this, but the simplest ceramic pot should be good for starting out.  Why not?

I'm sure you can find a Brown Betty or something similar from a variety of sources.  I'm not a teapot fanatic, so maybe one of the rest of you has better advice for this question.

Ok Elizabeth, once you have a few basic pieces of tea gear, we'll move on to the actual tea.  Curious how easy this is for you specifically and if anyone else reading this has additional ideas generally.


  1. On my mirrored blog over at teatra.de, Chris at 'Min River Tea Farm' offered this suggestion:

    '...Stump teapots – basically, the simplest and easiest way to get started (built in infuser, simple design and use). The complicated or traditional brewing equipment can come later.'

    Interesting. I'd like to check those out.

  2. Mine is made of steel. With the strainer on the bottom.

  3. I have a tea cup that is ceramic with a ceramic infuser inside it. The holes seem somewhat small enough to not let tea through. I will tweet you a pic of it to see if that is something that will work.

    Thanks so much for your help with this. :) I am really excited about this new adventure.

  4. We're going to have fun with this. As I responded on twitter, a cup of tea is ok, but if it's good tea, you'll eventually want a whole pot.

  5. I really like the Finum Brewing Basket. I think it's the best piece of teaware for a starter tea drinker and at least for me, it's one that I did not outgrow. It is still often my preferred way of brewing tea...and for finely-broken tea and herbs, it is the only way I like to brew.