Teapot with internal mesh basket - should I get one?
- orangewasabi Jan 15, 2007 04:04 AM
I'm wanting to get all precise about tea (from a standing still, know nothing about it start).
Am looking at one of those teapots with the internal mesh basket you put the tea leaves into.
Should I get one? or is there a better way to brew a pot of tea? Are there any specific characteristics about these type of pots that I should know.
I have one and like it - make sure to use the correct amount of tea or you can accidentally get very caffinated (if you brew caff. tea)
hello, the big advantage of those 'baskets' is convenience in the clean-up. Good tea is best left unrestrained--no basket--for fullest exposure to the H20 and the leaves' subsequent swelling (most serious teas being whole leaf and thereby w. great expansion potential). Some call this 'agony of the leaves.' Two containers is best--one to steep/infuse, and after a monitored(which will control both the caffeine&flavor profile,enable multiple infusions from the leaves) time interval, pour off entire contents into serving cups and/or second container (I often use a thermos). Chinese teapots have a strainer built into the lower end of the pouring spout; the nice iron Japanese pots include a basket like those you fancy, I use them outside of the pot, pouring the tea through them.But I don't deny a tea drinker convenience, if that's essential to their enjoyment; it's also no coincidence that teabags are greatest in convenience and usually have the lowest quality of tea in broken or cut leaf grades, even 'fannings and dust'. cheers
I've had trouble finding a mesh insert that is large enough to let the tea leaves do their thing for a full pot of tea. For small quantities, they're fine.
Another thing I like is t-sac's -- these are large filter paper bags that you fill with your loose tea, and infuse like a giant tea bag. Very convenient.
Moto's right about the two container brewing though - I'll use t-sac or insert when I'm brewing for myself casually, but any time I want to make an occasion of it, or if I am serving guests, two pot is the way to go. The tea is better, and the ritual of it is pleasing.
From what you are saying, get the pot with the basket. I'd suggest a glass insert so that the metal doesn't impact the flavor of the tea. Also, you can get cups with inserts so that they can be removed once the level of flavor you like is reached.
I'm no expert, but I find no difference from the inserts than brewing the tea directly in the cup ... other than you can remove the tea and it doesn't over-brew and get bitter.
I have both a pot and the cups and use these exclusively.
I also have the little sacs that hold tea. They are fine, but still impart a tiny flavor of the sac.
I don't really understand using a french press for tea (though I've seen it done a lot). To get all the water out, you sometimes end up having to press down on the tea, which is not a good idea. As long as you don't press down on the leaves, should be Ok, but there are some other ways that are probably easier.
If you're making tea for one, you can also get a ceramic mug with a drop-in infuser. These are great I noticed some at Cost Plus recently, or there's one at the link below this.
You can see a good variety of teapots w/ infusers and other teaware at:
Franchia (http://franchia.com) in NYC has some beautiful ceramic Korean tea mugs for one with the built in infuser. You can mail-order from them. The Korean style ones are great - there's a lid, used to cover the mug while you're infusing the leaves, and then the lid flips over to hold the ceramic basket after you're done.
One thing that's really overlooked is the temperature of water - make sure you use an appropriate temperature of water for the type of leaves you're brewing. Green tea should be brewed at a lower than boiling temperature - the right temperature will depend on the type of leaf, but typically around 160-175 F.
You should almost always pre-heat your brewing vessel and teacups. To do this, pour hot water into your teapot or brewing vessel, pour out from there into your holding pitcher (if you have one), and then into any cups you're serving the tea in. Many people suggest a short rinse of the leaves before doing the first infusion (for certain types of teas).
I personally use more or less the "gong fu" ("kung fu") style of brewing - lots of leaf, short multiple infusions, either in a a small Yixing clay teapot with a built in filter, or a small "gaiwan" (a teacup with a lid, which is used to strain the tea), then poured into another cup or a holding pitcher). This method is used mostly for oolong (wu long) and pu'erh teas; you can use a fairly similar method for black or green tea.
Don't know if you want to spend that much effort, but in either event, a gaiwan is a great brewing vessel for tea. I got some great ones (a bit large for my style of brewing - about 6 oz) for $12 ea from teality.com.
Funny you should mention that. My once-favorite tea house in Shanghai, The Old Film Cafe on Duolun Lu started serving their longjing in a Bodum-esque French press instead of just giving me a big glass tumbler half-full of leaves and an industrial-sized thermos. They also switched from serving xiaolong bao and shao mai for snacks to stuff like popcorn chicken. Feh!
I agree with AnnaEA about t-sac's
I also brew tea in teapot loose and then use small strainer I purchased at han ah reum and pour into teacup