Many tea drinkers think they don’t have time to steep fine, loose leaf teas. All that gongfu stuff and multiple infusions done just so. It all seems too complicated. They go for the quick fix, the easy solution. Thus, the tea scene is still dominated by teabags and sachets, as well as RTDs (ready-to-drink, aka bottled) teas. There are also tea syrups used by those coffee shop chains out there to mix up those fancy (and expensive) tea drinks, such as pumpkin chai latté. But you have another route for enjoying fine teas in a simple and satisfying way. The key is telling yourself that it’s worth it!
Tip 1 – Forget the Gongfu Approach
Even a simplified gongfu style tea time, like we showed here on our blog, can be too complicated for many people who just want a glass or cup of tea. How do you do this? Well, you move on to tip #2.
Tip 2 – Use Other Steeping Options
Images of teapots steaming as tea steeps inside them and of mugs with teabag strings and tags hanging over the side are often promoted as the way to steep tea. Others proclaim Yixing teapots to be best or even gaiwans. But there are no hard and fast rules in tea, no shoulds. Teabags certainly simplify tea preparation, but are not usually filled with fine teas. So opting for infuser baskets/balls, T-sacs, and steeping mugs is a good second choice. You get premium tea and a minimum of fuss. Some folks even steep in a glass.
Tip 3 – Set Up a Tea Station
We showed recently on this blog how a tea station in your kitchen can facilitate your tea steeping, and thus satisfy that craving for a cup of tea that much sooner. It can be set for any type of tea you enjoy most often.
Tip 4 – Keep Fave Loose Teas in Stock
Premium teas can be tricky to keep in stock. First, storage is an issue. The teas that are processed least (whites, greens, and lightly roasted oolongs) have a shorter shelf life (but you can extend it by storing the teas in the refrigerator – see our article here on this blog about how best to store these teas) than highly roasted oolongs, black teas, and pu-erhs. Even those teas, though, need some care in storing. Next, many fine teas are sold by year and flush, so the tea you loved from garden X might not be as good the next year, and the crop yield might be much lower. If you go for some of the more traditional blends, like our Irish Breakfast, this is not an issue, but you still need to adhere to tip #5.
Tip 5 – Plan Ahead
Whether you buy your teas at a store or tea shop or online, you need a bit of planning ahead to assure the tea you want will be on hand when you want it. We, along with other tea vendors focused on fine teas, keep in close contact with various tea garden representatives so we can offer you some of the season’s best even before they get “officially” on the market. Pre-ordering these teas assures they are available when you craving for them needs to be satisfied. Other teas are usually available all the time and are just a matter of restocking as soon as you see your supply getting low. And part of planning ahead is making sure your teawares are clean and ready.