Brewing coffee using a French press is one of the simplest ways of preparing a brew – and as far as we’re concerned, one that produces some of the most delicious results. But did you realize you can also use a French press to brew tea? Here’s a guide to how to brew tea with your French press.
5 Advantages of using a French press to brew tea
Using your French press to brew tea has several advantages over other brewing methods, including the following:
1) Gives the leaves more space to unfurl
If you use a mesh ball to brew tea, the leaves don’t have the space to unfurl and expand. This will result in the tea not infusing properly. In a French press, on the other hand, the leaves will have all the space they need to open up when you pour in the water.
2) Good way to stop the leaves reaching your cup
The fine mesh of the plunger on a French press is a very effective way of making sure no small pieces of tea leaves or any other detritus from the tea ends up in your cup.
3) Good size for one or two people
If you have a regular-sized French press, it might be a better way to brew tea when you only have one or two people to serve. Sometimes, a normal teapot can be too large for a small number of people.
However, if you want to serve a larger number of guests, you need to have a large French press, like 44Oz or 51Oz.
4) Good for mixing herbal “teas”
A French press is a great way to mix and brew home recipes for herbal teas. You can put everything in the carafe and brew them up – and the mesh on the French press’s plunger will stop any bits reaching your cup.
5) Good way to make the most of your French press!
If you have a French press that you don’t use much, this is a great way to make sure it doesn’t just sit there taking up space!
A couple of disadvantages
– Not ideal for “washing” the leaves
While you can wash the leaves in a French press, it is perhaps not the ideal solution for this step. Something like a regular teapot with a proper filter with larger holes would be better suited to this part of brewing tea.
– Plunger crushes the leaves
If you use a French press to brew tea, when you press down the plunger, you crush the leaves. This will damage them and spoil the flavor of subsequent brews using the same leaves.
7 steps to brew tea with a french press
Step 1 – Clean your French press
The first thing you need to do with your French press – especially if you usually use it to make coffee – is to give a good, thorough clean. French presses used to make coffee will usually retain an amount of coffee residue, and before you use it to for brewing tea, you need to remove it.
If your French press is a regular glass version, you will easily be able to see any coffee residue in the carafe section. However, you should also make sure the plunger part is completely clean and free of coffee.
This step is perhaps the most important since if you brew tea with a dirty French press, the coffee residue and any grains of coffee stuck in the mesh will spoil the flavor of the tea.
Step 2 – Boil the water
Not quite as simple and obvious as it sounds since the type of tea you are brewing will determine the temperature of the water you use. For example, black tea should be brewed with water that is almost boiling whereas green teas would be spoiled by such a high temperature.
See the table below for more information.
To ensure the water is at just the right temperature, you can use a special kettle with temperature control, you can measure with a thermometer or you can just guess, depending on how accurate you wish to be.
Step 3 – Warm the pot
Warm the pot by pouring in some hot water and swirling it around a few times. Discard the water.
Step 4 – Add the leaves
Put the leaves into the French press. The amount will depend on how much tea you want to make and how strong you like it – as well as the type of tea you are using.
Step 5 – “Wash” the leaves
Although this step is often skipped, when making tea properly, the leaves should be “washed” before brewing. This means the dust and small particles are washed off and the leaves are “awoken”, allowing them to begin unfurling.
To wash the leaves, pour in just enough water to cover them, leave for just a few seconds and then pour off. To do this, you shouldn’t use the plunger as a filter because this will retain the small particles you are trying to pour off.
A better way might be to use a spoon to prevent the larger tea leaves from being poured out with the water.
Step 6 – Pour in the water and leave to steep
When you have washed the leaves, you can then pour in the rest of the water and leave the tea to steep. Again, this depends on the type of tea and your preferred strength – see the table below for guidelines.
Step 7 – Press the plunger and serve
When the tea is brewed to your taste, press the plunger down and serve. You can use the same tea leaves to brew several times.
Correct temperatures and brewing times for tea
Different types of tea require different water temperatures and steeping times. Here’s a guide to the correct temperatures and times to use:
Tea type Water temperature Steeping time
White tea 160-190°F 2-5 mins
Green tea 160-180°F 1-3 mins
Oolong tea 185-205°F 2-5 mins
Black tea 200-212°F 3-5 mins
Herbal tea 200-212°F 5-7 mins
Ideal use for your French press
As we’ve seen, using a French press to brew tea can work well. It can be a convenient way to brew smaller amounts of tea, it can be an attractive way to watch the tea leaves unfurling during brewing – and at the very least, it’s a good way to put your French press to extra use!