February 28, 2006

Well Equipped for Tea

by goob

You can spend a lot of money on stuff with which to make tea, if you want too. There are lots of kettles available in steel and copper. There are piles of teapots for purchase in all kinds and colors. There are all sorts of noodley, fiddly tea type things that invariably end up in the bottom drawer, unused and forgotten. I have a teapot, a nice little porcelain one, clean and white. I've stopped using it.

Tea needs room to swim as it steeps. My teapot has a little infusion basket to hold loose-leaf tea, and it cramps the brew (brewing without the basket makes the teapot painful to clean). Also, I can't see what's going on in there, and I often forget to set the timer. It's a lovely thing for serving tea, but it's somewhat unfortunate for brewing the stuff.

I've been taught these things by friends of mine who have been at the art and science of tea for quite some time now. My friends brew tea in a metal bowl with a plate on it, and then pour the tea out through a little strainer into mugs. It is worth noting, I think, that as their tastes in tea have grown more cultivated, their equipment has become ever more simple.

So: I was in the local cafe, eyeing the shelf of pricey things, and they had replacement parts for various sizes of french presses on display. One of them was the tempered glass insert, straight-sided and clear, and I thought: "that would be fantastic for brewing tea! If it only had some kind of markings..."


I bought some lab glass: a half dozen one liter beakers can be had quite cheaply, and make good gifts, besides. I can only make tea in metric amounts, but that's alright. The leaves swirl happily in there, and when covered by a saucer the beaker doesn't lose too much heat. I can see the tea, which is useful for those times when I forget to set the timer. It's also nice to have a touch of mad scientist littered about the kitchen.

Good tea!

Additional Resources

Lab glass is available all over the place; I had good luck with Lab Depot, Inc..

I have two kettles: a beat up ancient stainless steel kettle that I keep on the stove at home, and an electric kettle for work. The electric kettle came from Adagio Teas, and it's worked out great; the kettle has a thermostat, so I don't have to worry about the water being too hot.

The good folks at Upton will sell you tea as nice as you like.

Posted by goob at February 28, 2006 04:33 PM | Bookmark This

For everyday tea-drinking, nothing beats the convenience of Upton's plain white infuser mug. Just preheat, infuse, and drink, all using one bone-china vessel. The infuser fills the mug and offers ample expansion room for the "agony of the leaves." I received my infuser mug in 2002 and have been using it ceaselessly since.


For larger batches, I use a French press. I heat the water in an electric kettle (another wonderful convenience for the tea drinker), infuse the leaves in the French press (covered with a plate), and pour the resulting liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a heated serving vessel. Unlike yours, my electric kettle does not have a temperature setting, and so I must use a little math instead.


Cheers. --Tom

Posted by Tom Moertel at February 28, 2006 09:58 PM

I like my tea implements because half the point of tea for me is the ritual of making the tea. It allows my brain to chew on difficult problems while my body goes through familiar and reassuring motions. I love the french press I have (12 oz, or 355 mL if you prefer). Pushing the plunger down is so satisfying! Otherwise I think I might try your beakers idea simply for the character it would add to my desk at work.


Posted by Doug at March 1, 2006 09:16 PM

The lab glass also makes for wonderful watching of teas like dragon pearls, which (for the audience) are tightly wounnd balls of tea leaves that when placed in hot water unfurl to look somewhat like dragons. Often they are infused with jasmine as well, if you like that sort of thing.

Posted by Shelby Davis at March 6, 2006 08:09 AM

Just out of curiousity, do you use a pipette for your cream?

Posted by Doug at March 6, 2006 03:31 PM

That...is an interesting idea. Although I'd get less milk for my tea as the level in the carton fell...

Posted by Goob at March 6, 2006 05:50 PM

Not if you have one of the good ones with the bulb on top. You squeeze the bulb, place the tip in the milk, slowly unsqueeze until you get the right amount. Place over tea and squeeze it back out! Voila!

Posted by Doug at March 7, 2006 12:48 AM

What a great idea the lab glass is! Thanks! I'm not a big tea drinker (yet) but I'm excited about the possibilities for wine decanting. I'm considering the 2000ml Erhlenmeyer flask. Since a bottle of wine is 750 ml there should be plenty of room for it to breathe. Easy to pour, and with a high level of geek cred, what's not to like for everyday drinking? A set of 4 (gifts aplenty) is 45.50. You won't find another decanter that size anywhere near that cheap.

Posted by Will C at March 8, 2006 10:15 PM

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