Steeping and then straining your loose leaf tea can be an inconvenience sometimes, but the resulting tea “liquor” is worth it. The leaves get full contact with the water and lots of room to expand, releasing their ingredients into it. But in our ever-faster-paced world, where each moment counts, are steeping loose teas and having to pour through a strainer giving you cause to rethink your love for tea?
You may have to resort to using — gasp! — an infuser.
Infusers are increasingly popular and with good reason, since they have lots of advantages. For example, they let you steep a potful of loose leaf tea and then remove the basket from the pot so the tea doesn’t oversteep. (You can put the same infuser into another pot of hot water to get a second infusion while enjoying the first infusion.) There are also cup-size infusers so you can make up just a cupful of one of your favorite loose leaf teas. It still seems like a bit of a travesty, though, crowding those wonderful tea leaves, especially full and broken leaf teas, into a basket that doesn’t let them swim free. So, for me, they have been something to avoid.
I’m a realist, though, and know that it’s not always practical to steep tea loose in the cup or pot. Maybe you work in an office and prefer not to get stuck with the low-grade bagged teas usually available in the break room. Maybe you work in a small store and want to steep a good cup of tea during your break and the only space to do this is back in the stockroom. Whatever the reasons, you have a choice to make: go with lesser quality tea, fuss with steeping loose in a pot, or resort to an infuser.
Life is full of tough choices. (“Do you want that order super-sized?” is a real hard one for me.)
One of the best ways I know to reach a decision when the choices are tricky is the value system. Unlike eenie-meenie-minie-moe, paper-rock-scissors, or flipping a coin, a bit of thought has to go into this system. Basically, you assign a value to each of the choices. The choice with the higher value wins.
In this case, I would assign values as follows:
10 — Enjoying fine teas at home
10 — Steeping fine teas loose in the pot
9 — Enjoying fine loose leaf teas at the office (not quite as good as at home)
8 — Avoiding steeping fine teas using an infuser
2 — Getting a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (rates above low-grade “office tea”)
1 — Having low-grade “office tea”
It looks like enjoying fine loose leaf teas at the office is a higher value than avoiding using an infuser, and certainly higher than having “office tea.” Of course, the infuser still rates below steeping loose in the teapot — always will for me.
Working in a busy office can be straining enough as it is. The glaring fluorescent lights and co-workers chattering endlessly about some TV program or what their kids did or their weekend camping trip are just some of the annoyances. Why add to that by having to deal with steeping loose teas? Still, the soothing flavor and stimulating effects of Darjeeling, one of the finer greens, or Golden Tips Assam, can make me feel like I’m back home with hubby, all cozy, and typing away on the computer while listening to him play the piano. That settles it — I’m using an infuser, but just at the office! I can’t take anymore of that “office grade” tea.
I’m still steeping loose at home, though. It’s the only way to get the best of those fine loose leaf teas!
Visit A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, and infuse your life with a bit of good writing!