Most tea drinkers probably have a collection of favorite mugs, and maybe a teapot or three. Those are great everyday ways to get your fix, but sometimes you want to experiment. Maybe you have a good-quality tea that deserves something special, or maybe you want a new way to drink an old favorite. Whatever the reason, here are 5 ways you can jazz up your tea drinking.
The name comes from tea blogger MarshalN (link: http://www.marshaln.com/2007/04/monday-april-23-2007/), who named it because that was how his grandfather drank tea.
This is probably the easiest (some might say laziest) way to drink hot tea. All you do is fill a large cup with tea leaves and hot (though not boiling) water. Don’t bother with an infuser and don’t worry about steeping times, and just top off the water when the cup is about halfway full.
Stick with larger-leaf loose teas (say that three times fast). Smaller-leaf teas may oversteep or turn bitter more quickly and are easier to accidentally swallow, if drinking leaves bothers you. I like this method because of how simple and laid-back it is—just you and your tea. It’s also great for tea addicts because you can honestly say that you’ve only had one cup.
A tetsubin is a traditional cast-iron Japanese teapot. Heavy? You bet. But they retain heat better than just about any other serving method, remaining hot for almost an hour. I guess you could time it, but it’s more fun just to drink the tea.
Pair this with a stand that can fit a tealight and your tea will stay hot until the last drop. Most tetsubin come with small cast-iron cups, usually containing 2-4 ounces, and the ritual of pouring tea into these dainty little cups feels exceptionally classy.
The downside here is that tetsubin do need a little more care than most teapots due to the potential for rust, but treat yours right and it’ll last for years.
In a pot
This is handy for when you want to make a lot of tea but don’t have a teapot, but it really shines for making traditional masala chai. There’s no reason that you have to limit yourself to chai, though.
This method is so simple that you can adapt it for any tea: just heat milk and water in a pot, and, when the mixture boils, add tea leaves and spices. The main advantage of using a pot is that you have a little more control over the results, since you can taste the tea and add or remove spices as it’s cooking. This makes it a good way to experiment with tea blends, especially if you have a less-than-great tea that could use the flavor boost.
You can get really creative, too. Try adding dried seaweed to green tea for a rich savory taste, or combine dried fruit and rooibos for a sweet herbal brew.
This is, bar none, the easiest way to make iced tea.
All it takes is a little patience. Teas packaged for cold-brewing are becoming more popular, but you can use any bagged or loose-leaf tea. You’ll need 1 teabag or 1 tablespoon of leaves per liter of water. Just fill a pitcher, add the tea, and leave it in the fridge overnight. Usually it takes at least 8 hours to steep properly.
If you like your tea strong, you can use more tea or steep it for longer. This is a fantastic technique for tea-drinkers in hotter climates, since you can still appreciate your favorite beverage without needing to turn the AC down.
Also known as a guywan or gongfu, a gaiwan is a small ceramic cup with a fitted lid and saucer. These use a higher ratio of leaves to water than other methods, resulting in a shorter steeping time.
The advantage is that the leaves retain their flavor longer, allowing you to steep each batch several times. More delicate teas usually last 3 or 4 infusions, while the most strongly-flavored pu-erh teas can sometimes last 10 or more. Gongfu brewing is ideal for high-quality teas, which often taste different with each infusion—floral in the first, vegetal in the second, and so on. A gaiwan is great for when you want to really focus on your tea.
Watching the leaves unfold with each infusion is a beautiful sight, and the entire process can feel quite meditative, like a tea ceremony for one. To serve the tea, you can either drink straight from the gaiwan or pour it into another cup.
Do you know any alternative tea brewing methods that should be included? From the practical to the not-so-practical, there’s room for everything. If it works better, it’s obviously worth trying. If it’s just for fun… of course that’s always worth trying too. So share your quirky and unique ways to brew tea with us so that we can share them with the world!