There's more than one way to do it.
While there aren't as many ways to brew tea (that we know of) as there are varieties of tea, it sometimes seems close. We'll demystify the myriad ways to make a good cup of tea and get you started on the right path.
Table of Contents
The Bare Essentials
You only need three things to make a good cup of tea:
- A way to heat up your water
- A cup
- A good tea
While a good portion of the world's population forgoes filtration and simply spits out their tea leaves as they sip, we recommend using a tea infuser or strainer to make your tea. With that in mind, let's add a fourth requirement:
Omitting any sort of infuser or tea bag sacrifices a lot of control over the steeping process and can quickly turn a premium cup into the sort of tea-like drink you'll find at your local corner store.
Making Water Hot
For a lot of teas all you'll need is a way to boil water. Most black teas are steeped at 212° Fahrenheit, so water straight off the boil will be fine. For these teas no special equipment is needed: you can even get away with microwaving a cup of water until it boils if that's all you've got.
For other teas, though, a little more control is desired.
Pot & Thermometer
When we say "pot" we mean your classic saucepan or stockpot. Anything that can be put on a stovetop that can get water up to the target temperature will work.
As mentioned, we recommend using a thermometer when your tea calls for a temperature anything less than boiling. Water that's been heated too far can quickly be brought back down with a splash of cold water from the tap.
The biggest downside to heating water like this is the lack of control when pouring. Some pots are big and heavy and
A saucepan, evolved. The traditional kettle gives you the capability of heating water with easier pouring thanks to it's spout. Some include a whistle to let you know when the water's at a boil. Some even have built in thermometers to help you get that 160 degrees a particular tea might call for.
Typically faster than a stovetop kettle, electric kettles are an efficient and easy way to heat your water. Some include temperature control as well, allowing you to set it and forget it. Going even further, some even offer a "hold" function that will hold your water at the desired temperature, making it easy to come back for that second cuppa.
Drinking Vessels, aka Cups
Though typical low tea and high tea uses fancy cups and saucers, any cup will work. In most instances, loose leaf tea isn't steeped in the cup it's drank from: it's instead brewed in another vessel and then transferred to a drinking cup.
Traditional Tea Cup and Saucer
If you want to be traditional about things, the common tea cup and saucer is the way to go. Typically 8oz in size, these cups are low and wide and normally have artistic designs. A matching saucer helps keep things tidy.
Coffee / Diner Mug
You've been born with free will. If you want to drink your tea from a mug you stole from your favorite diner, we certainly won't stop you. Not that we condone stealing mugs from diners, of course.
Insulated Travel Mug
One of our favorites here at The Whistling Kettle, an insulated tumbler is great for enjoying tea on the go. Brew it in the morning before leaving home and have a hot brew any time your taste buds call for it.
It goes without saying that to make a cup of tea you'll need tea leaves. Luckily for you we've got over 140 different teas to pick from.
Tea Ball Infusers
Tea ball infusers are a very common, easy and affordable infuser option. Simply add your tea inside your infuser, place into a cup or pot, and add your water. If you're looking to make a cup of tea for one person, a tea ball infuser can be a good choice.
It's important to keep in mind that with larger tea leaves a tea ball infuser might not give the tea enough room to expand - and finer teas like Rooibos or Honeybush can escape through the holes.
Paper Tea Bags
Tea bags are one of the most common ways to brew a cup of tea. It makes sense, as they make tea brewing and drinking extremely convenient and easy.
Tea bags can be sealed and pre-filled with tea leaves, or open and empty to allow for the tea drinker to fill it with the tea(s) of their choice.
From individual cups to pots, unbleached, flavor-neutral paper tea bags designed for loose leaf tea can be a quick, easy option. There are different sized ones available for all of your tea brewing needs, such as our one size fits all design letting you make individual cups all the way up to 30 ounces. Put in the tea, pull the string closed, and add water.
As convenient as they are, we prefer other methods when available.
Brewing baskets are a great, eco-friendly way to make a great cup of tea. While several varieties exist, stainless steel versions are more recommended as they don't affect the taste of the tea the way a plastic version might.
Stainless Steel Tea Infuser
We prefer infusers made of stainless steel as these won't impart any sort of flavor of their own onto the tea, and are easy to clean. These types of infusers typically fit into most teacups, mugs and pots. They have a generous size, granting your tea plenty of space to unleash its fullest flavor and most powerful health benefits. Laser-cut perforations are small enough to prevent all but the smallest particles from your tea from making it into your finished brew. Plus, good ones will come with a lid that you can use as a drip tray. Care is easy too - simply throw it in the dishwasher!
Teapots or Cups with Removeable Stainless-Steel Infuser Basket
A tea flask with a removeable infuser allows you to steep your tea during your commute and dispose of the leaves when you arrive to your destination.
If you're brewing tea for a few people, or just want to prepare a few cups in advance, a large ceramic teapot with a removable stainless-steel infuser can make the process a piece of cake.
Fill the removable stainless-steel infuser with your tea of choice, pour in boiled water and let your tea steep. Once the steep is done - simply remove the infuser and voila! Tea is ready to be enjoyed.
For Iced Tea
To make iced tea, you can use any of the above brewing equipment options and simply follow our instructions on how to brew iced tea.
However, a dedicated iced tea brewer is a must have if you're an iced tea lover. A glass iced tea brewer with a removeable stainless-steel infuser makes it quick and easy to brew up a large batch of iced tea.
Advanced Brewing Equipment
Specialty and uncommon teas often call for specialized brewing gear to get the full experience.
Matcha Whisk & Spoon
While matcha is a form of green tea, it has its own special way of making the drink that is vastly different from steeping a traditional cup of green tea. To make a cup of matcha, you simply whisk the powder with hot water and enjoy the bright green brew.
To properly measure your scoop, use a matcha spoon, typically of bamboo, to dispense just the right amount of matcha. Then, use a matcha whisk (or chasen, also typically of bamboo) to give your powdered matcha the perfect amount of froth while also removing any lumps.
A gaiwan is a traditional Chinese tea brewing vessel, which usually consists of three main components: a bowl, a lid, and a saucer.
Tea leaves are placed in the bowl, and hot water is then added. The lid is used on top to retain the heat and help with steeping the tea. After steeping, the tea is poured into a cup or pitcher by tilting the gaiwan back slightly to hold back the steeped leaves. The bowl is wide and shallow, which allows the leaves to unfurl and infuse the water more effectively. This method enhances the tea-drinking experience, enabling multiple infusions of tea leaves.
A Kyuso is a traditional Japanese teapot, especially designed for brewing and serving Japanese green teas such as sencha or gyokuro.
It has a distinctive shape and design and are traditionally made from clay. Some have built-in strainers to help separate the tea leaves from the liquid when pouring. They are considered an essential tool for enjoying Japanese green tea and are often used in Japanese tea ceremonies or everyday tea preparation.
A mate gourd, also simply known as a gourd, is a traditional vessel for preparing and drinking yerba mate tea. It's typically made from a hollowed-out dried gourd, typically from a type of calabash plant. It's carefully prepared and cured to remove any natural bitterness and to create a smooth interior surface.
The gourd is filled with loose yerba mate leaves. Hot water is poured into the gourd, and a metal straw (bombilla) is inserted into the tea. This straw has a filter at the bottom, preventing the leaves from being consumed while drinking.
Whether you prefer your tea hot or iced, this guide will equip you with all the necessary equipment to make your tea brewing experience a breeze. We've gathered all the essentials to kickstart your tea journey with confidence. From teapots to infusers and everything in between, we've got you covered.