Brewing tea is an art. Tea enthusiasts know this best. Lately, a trend has been growing where people are abandoning tea bags for tea infusers.
There are many ways of brewing tea at home, and one of these is to infuse loose leaf tea. Of course, you can still infuse your beverage without using a tea infuser, but for this article, we shall discuss tea infusers and how to infuse loose leaf tea with an infuser.
Selecting an infuser
You don’t want to go wrong with the first and most important step of infusing tea. Since loose leaf tea expands, you will need to ensure that you get a large enough infuser. You will only have to fill part of it and leave enough room for expansion. Otherwise, your tea will not brew well, and the taste will end up being bland. The expanding leaves will block the openings in the infuser, and the result will be a very little release of the flavor into your drink. If you are shopping for an infuser on the internet, be sure to check the diameter of the infuser, and see if it is smaller than whatever container you intend to use for your brewing.
Equally important is the type of loose leaf tea you are using. Some loose leaf tea varieties expand more than others, and as such, might need extra space. If you go wrong with this, then you might end up having to reduce the strength of your tea. And this might not be your idea of a good cup of tea.
The loose leaf tea should also not be too fine for your infuser holes. This is because the tea might simply escape through the holes without getting filtered at all, and you will end up with particles in your drink.
You also need to make sure that the tea infuser is not too large for your cup. The infusers are usually made with regard to the diameters of standard tea containers. Some are actually meant specifically for pots.
The procedure of infusing tea is the same, regardless of the type of infuser you are using. The difference is in the amount of tea you can brew at one time, and the convenience. For example, some infusers are simpler to open and add leaves, and also to get out of your brewed tea.
How to Infuse Loose Leaf Tea
To perfectly infuse your tea, you will need to use four grams of loose tea leaves for every 60 ml of water you use. You don’t need to weight four grams of tea leaves- just equate it to two tablespoons. Your water needs to be hot for perfect steeping. Ideally, you should boil your water to about 70 degrees Celsius or 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then all you need to do is to wait for your tea to get strong enough. Once this is done, you can withdraw the infuser, and enjoy your tea. Depending on the type of loose leaf tea you are using, the timing will be different. With full leaf white or green tea, the process should take between 2 and 4 minutes. For full leaf oolong, red or herb tea leaves, the process should take 5 to 7 minutes. If you are using full leaf black tea, you should time it for between 3 and 5 minutes.
The Different Types of Tea Infusers
There are different types of tea infusers. Like any other product out there, the infusers are made to different specifications by each manufacturer. That being said, they all fall into one of the several major classifications. Here are the three major classes of tea infusers:
Infuser balls are usually smaller in size compared to other types of infusers and are normally meant to be used with tea cups and mugs. To add the loose tea leaves, you need to open the ball. It is advisable to only half fill the ball since you want to accommodate the tea leave expansion we mentioned earlier.
When your tea brews to the strength you prefer, you can pull the ball out using the attached chain, if available. If the infuser ball has no chain, you can use a spoon instead. Then you can open up the ball and get rid of the tea leaves.
Spring Handled Infusers
Spring handled infusers are basically the same as infuser balls, except for the fact that they have handles like spoons. To add the loose tea leaves to these infusers, you need to open the infusers by squeezing the handles. Then you can clamp them shut, and wait for it to brew.
These are easier to remove from your drink since they have a handle. When you are done, you can squeeze the handles to open the infuser again and shake the tea leaves off.
Infuser baskets are typically larger than infuser balls and are therefore meant for larger containers. These infusers are shaped like baskets. The larger size of the infuser baskets allows for better circulation of the water, and also helps to extract the flavor of the leaves completely. This is why many people prefer infuser baskets when making a larger amount of tea.
Just like the balls and spring handled infusers, you will need to load the infuser basket with loose tea leaves and place it in a container. Then you should add hot water to the container and give it time to fully extract flavor from the leaves.
Once you are done, just remove the infuser and empty the tea leaves in a bin. You can turn it upside down and gently hit it for an easier time cleaning.
Different loose leaf tea varieties will expand to different extents. For example, sencha tea leaves tend to expand more than other varieties. You can always adjust the amount of loose leaf tea you use after trial and error attempts. It is best to first try filling the infuser to only a half its capacity and adjust from there.
To make your cleaning job simpler, you can shop for an infuser with smaller holes. These do not let even the smallest particles escape, and you, therefore, do not need to spend extra time cleaning through the holes.