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How to Steep Loose Leaf Tea

Steeping a good cup of loose tea is quite simple, and attention to a few crucial details will generally assure excellent results. Good water, the correct quantity of tea, accurate steeping time, and a proper teapot are important for success.

If your source of water is suspect, try using bottled spring water or purified water; many teas have a variety of subtle flavors that can be destroyed or masked by poor water that contains heavy concentrations of iron or other impurities. Correct water temperature is essential as well. black teas should be brewed with water that has just come to a rolling boil. Oolongs are often best when steeped with water near the boiling point. For Green and white teas, always use water that is less than boiling to avoid a bitter infusion.

Steeping instructions often advise the addition of a teaspoon of tea for each cup and "one for the pot." However, a small, preheated pot will generally not require this extra spoonful, especially if high quality tea is used. Begin with a teaspoonful per cup or use our brewing suggestions listed for each tea in the online catalog, but do not hesitate to adjust the amount until you find the right balance of flavors. Each tea is unique, as is each tea drinker.

Steeping time depends on the type of leaf and its leaf grade. Many teas yield a pale liquor, so steep by time not color. If milk is to be added, the steeping time must be long enough for sufficient flavor elements and tannins to be extracted. Too short a steeping time will result in a thin, insipid tea. Conversely, over-steeping will yield a bitter tea with an overpowering imbalance of tannin.

The Chatsford Teapot makes the preparation of loose tea quick and easy for everyday use. Fitted with a convenient tab for effortless removal, the ample mesh infuser basket allows full infusion without restricting leaf expansion. Rinse the pot thoroughly with boiling water to warm it, and then pour this water off. Place the infuser basket with tea leaves into the pot and add the hot or boiling water. Cover with the lid, and a tea cosy if desired, and let the tea steep for the desired time. Once the infusion is complete, pull out the basket to halt infusion. Since dust-sized particles will inevitably pass through the infuser and continue to steep, serve the tea as soon as possible.

If you wish to steep the leaves loose in a pot or tea cup, be sure to pour the excess liquor into another pot to prevent over-steeping. A high-quality metal or nylon infuser will remove most particles of tea and result in a perfectly infused cup of tea.

For iced tea, we recommend making an iced tea concentrate. Simply double the amount of tea leaves and prepare as a hot tea, steeping for the recommended time for that tea. Let cool and pour over ice.

Milk Tea, also known as “bubble tea,” is a black tea that is brewed strong and usually topped with sweetened condensed milk. To prepare Milk Tea, first choose a full-bodied black tea, such as our Yunnan Black Snail. Double the amount of tea leaves normally used and steep for 5-8 minutes. Top with condensed milk. Enjoy hot or pour over ice for a refreshing treat!

Consideration of these few simple factors -- good water, the correct amount of tea, accurate steeping time, and a quality teapot -- will result in a great pot of tea.

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