Loose leaf tea offers many benefits over teabags. The tea leaves are often fresher and more flavorful, there’s much more variety and it’s usually cheaper per cup as well.
The main reason people avoid loose leaf tea is the impression that it takes more work. You have to measure the leaves before each cup and store them properly in between to make sure they retain their flavor and don’t pick up other odors.
What makes many people turn away is the belief that you need a specialized teapot to brew loose leaf tea.
Actually, though, brewing a cup of loose leaf tea doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some ways you can easily brew your favorite blend even without a teapot.
How do you brew loose leaf tea without a teapot?
It’s easy to brew loose leaf tea without a teapot. You can drink tea with the leaves still in it or strain them out with a kitchen strainer or a specially made tea strainer. There are also disposable and reusable teabags that marry the convenience of teabags with the benefits of loose leaf tea.
1. Just leave the tea in the cup
This is the most basic method for brewing loose leaf tea without a teapot, but it’s also the one that takes the most getting used to.
Simply put, you can just leave the tea leaves in the cup after you pour the water in. (If you’re not sure how to heat the water, check out how long to microwave water for tea.) Once the tea has reached its desired brewing time, you can simply start drinking.
Drinking tea with leaves still in it seems weird at first, but in a pinch this method works, and you don’t need any special equipment at all. If you just can’t get used to the leaves floating in your tea and bumping up against your lips while you drink, you can try to use a spoon or fork to get most of them out.
Although this method will work just fine for some teas, you probably want to avoid it with certain black and green teas. That’s because one of the most common reasons for bitter tea is oversteeping. If your tea tastes bitter with the leaves still in the water while you drink, you’ll want to switch to another method.
2. Use a kitchen strainer
Even if you don’t like tea leaves in your cup, you don’t need to buy special equipment to brew loose leaf tea without a teapot.
For this method, all you need to have on hand is an extra cup and a common kitchen strainer. In the first cup, place your loose leaf tea. Leave the second empty and place a common kitchen strainer over its lip.
Next, heat your water (make sure you know the right water temperature for tea here) and pour the hot water into the cup with the leaves.
After you reach the desired brew time, pour the tea from the first cup into the second. The kitchen strainer will catch any tea leaves and you’ll be left with a perfect cup of tea.
3. Buy reusable teabags
If fiddling with a kitchen strainer is too much work, you can buy reusable teabags. These are premade sachets, typically of cotton, that you can put your tea leaves into when brewing tea.
This method is one of the best ways to drink loose leaf tea, because it reduces waste almost to nothing.
Just about the only downside is that if you are brewing a particularly strong flavored tea blend, you can sometimes end up with that flavor sticking to the teabag. Not ideal if you’re trying to enjoy the taste of white tea but your teabag still smells like cinnamon, chives and black pepper from a cup of loose leaf chai.
4. Buy disposable teabags
If you’re less concerned about waste and more focused on flavor, disposable teabags are the best option by far.
Just like commercially packaged teabags, these are small cotton packets that you can place tea leaves in. Once you know how much loose leaf tea for a cup, all you have to do is measure out the correct amount and put it into a teabag, then either fold or tie the bag closed.
After that, you just put the teabag in the cup and pour in the hot water. It’s all the convenience of commercially packaged teabags without sacrificing any of the flavor and other benefits of loose leaf tea.
If using disposable teabags makes you feel wasteful, many of them are compostable and will biodegrade. These are also great to have around the house for other reasons. If you’re crafty, you can even make packets of scented bath salts with them!
The main problem with disposable teabags is that they can be hard to find. Asian grocery stores usually sell them, though, and you can also get them through online retailers and specialty tea stores.
5. Buy a reusable tea strainer
If none of the other options are working out, you can also look into reusable tea strainers.
Sometimes also called infusers or sifters, tea strainers are made of stainless steel or another material that won’t pick up odors like reusable teabags. They also produce no waste, making them an ecofriendly option without sacrificing taste.
Tea strainers come in many different shapes and sizes, from whimsical strainers shaped like animals or people relaxing in hot tubs to simple steel balls. No matter what they look like, tea strainers will have some method to seal in the tea leaves, whether it’s a metal clasp or interlocking bits of rubber.
To use a tea strainer, measure out the correct amount of tea leaves and place them inside. Then close the strainer and add hot water. Once your cup is properly brewed, remove the strainer and empty out the used leaves or save them if you like to rebrew your tea.
It’s an easy way to make the perfect cup of loose leaf tea without a teapot.
6. Use a robot
Speaking of special equipment, how about a windup robot that prepares your tea?
It sounds like science fiction, but dolls called chakumi ningyo (tea carrying dolls) were a common aristocratic amusement in early modern Japan. As seen in this short video clip, when you put a cup of tea on the automaton’s tray it will carry it to your guest.
Admittedly, this method isn’t a very sensible way to brew tea or one you’re likely to use on a regular basis. But it is pretty cool!