Living a Loose Leaf Tea Lifestyle: A Commitment?

Tea Time

It has been just four short months since I made the commitment to start drinking loose tea. I thought it would be fun to take a look back and see what changes I’ve made to accommodate my loose tea lifestyle.

Loose Tea Seemed Too Complicated

During my tea bag years the thought of drinking loose tea seemed much too complicated.

First of all, I had no idea how to steep the leaves without having leafy chunks in my cup. Using an infuser/filter was a totally foreign concept to me at the time. Consequently, I placed the idea of drinking loose tea into an imaginary box in my mind labeled: I don’t have time to figure this out right now.

Plus, if it wasn’t on the grocery store shelf, I didn’t buy it. I was totally resistant to trying something new. This was partly due to the fact that I had had many undesirable taste experiences with off-the-shelf brands.

When I finally found a tea brand that I liked, I stuck to that brand for years. I ended up drinking a very limited selection of tea and rarely left my comfort zone of safe teas to drink.

But for some reason, a few months ago I decided to venture outside the tea bag. This required a few changes in how I approached buying and preparing tea. In a way, my loose tea drinking had become a commitment I was willing to make.

The Loose Leaf Tea Commitment

Here are the changes I’ve made to accommodate my new loose tea lifestyle.

Change #1:

I now spend a lot more time on the purchasing process. Unlike tea bags, I can’t simply go down to my local grocery store and find a variety of loose teas. Instead, I have to go online or travel an hour away to find a teashop.

I find myself spending a good 30 to 90 minutes every couple months on tea webstores like Adagio, American Tea Room and Art of Tea. Part of that time is spent reading tea reviews. The rest of the time, I’m like a kid in a candy store who can’t make up her mind which tea to buy because they all look so good!

When I only bought tea at the grocery store, the main challenge was trying to find a tea that actually tasted good. Now, my main challenge is trying to choose among a wide selection of delicious teas I want to try!

Change #2:

Next, drinking loose tea does require some additional equipment.

Tea Accessories

First of all, an infuser basket (e.g., Finum Brewing Basket) teapot or paper filter (e.g., Finum Paper Filter) is a necessity. That is if you don’t want tea leaves floating in your brew.

Here again, like trying to find loose tea locally, it is very difficult to find a variety (if any) infusers or teapots in my hometown. Unless of course, I want to use a tea ball strainer. Ugh! I’ve learned that these contraptions are fairly useless—they don’t allow enough room for the tea leaves to expand during steeping.

Another tea accessory I have found handy is a thermometer; I use it when I want to make sure the water temperature is just right for the tea I want to prepare. Luckily, it is pretty easy to find a thermometer at nearly any store that sells kitchen gadgets.

In addition, I’ve spent a small fortune on just tea canisters to keep the tea fresh longer. I also like to use a teaspoon to measure the tea. I’m not very good at using the “just a pinch” method of measurement.

Lastly, something I’ve come to believe is a requisite to fully enjoy the taste of loose tea is a water filtration system. I personally use an inexpensive Brita Water Pitcher with Filter and have found it quite convenient.

Change #3:

I’ve also been taking a little more time to prepare loose tea.

First, I use my Brita Water Pitcher to filter fresh tap water.

Next, I wash my infuser basket or teapot (if I haven’t done so already). If using a paper filter, I can skip this step. But I think it actually takes more time trying to get the tea to fit into a small paper filter then it does to measure it into an infuser basket or teapot. Therefore, I don’t use paper filters very often.

Then, I measure the tea with a teaspoon and place in teapot or infuser basket.

Once the water has been filtered, I pour it into an Electric Water Kettle and wait for the water to boil.

If I’m steeping tea that needs a water temperature below boiling, like a green tea, this takes a little extra time. I have to wait for the water to cool to the temperature I want before adding the leaves to brew. Although, it’s definitely worth the wait!

Lastly, I pour the hot water over the tea leaves and let them steep for the appropriate amount of time based on the tea I am using.

Overall, it really doesn’t take that much more time to brew a cup of loose tea than it takes to use a conventional tea bag but, it feels like it takes much longer.

It’s all perception I guess.

It Is Worth the Commitment

Despite having to spend a little extra time planning my tea purchases, finding tea accessories and preparing loose leaf tea, the effort is worth it.

I’ve never enjoyed tea as much as I have these past four months. Tea bags just cannot compare to loose tea when it comes to taste. It’s worth the commitment.

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Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

What are your thoughts about loose tea being a commitment? Or, how do you prepare your loose tea?

2 comments on “Living a Loose Leaf Tea Lifestyle: A Commitment?

  1. a girl with tea February 3, 2011 2:02 PM

    Hi Alex! I love the point you made about the importance of taking breaks and how tea can be an ideal break. I tend to rush the process, wanting to get back to work. You’ve inspired me to take a few deep breaths and just be in the moment next time a turn the kettle on 🙂

  2. Alex Zorach January 24, 2011 4:19 PM

    Drinking tea made from loose-leaf tea is a bit of a lifestyle commitment but I find that it never really takes time out of the day. People need breaks: it’s simply not biologically possible to focus around the clock on mentally demanding tasks. It’s why bus drivers are required to take a short break at the end of each run, why study breaks are so helpful.

    In my opinion, tea makes for an almost ideal break; the process of getting up and walking to a new area to make it, measuring out the tea, gets you using your body in a different way, and the process of waiting to brew it helps one to get into a more relaxing and mindful state. Then the small amount of caffeine provides a bit of a boost when you go back to concentrating.

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