“There’s too much tea in my tea!!”
I uttered this exclamation the other day, much to the amusement of my tea companion. Her puzzled response (“um, did you just say that there was too much tea in your, er… tea?”) was accompanied by a bemused look, and upon reflection I realised how ridiculous this must sound.
What I meant, of course, was that there were too many tea leaves in my tea. This is something that I usually manage to avoid, but nothing is more irritating than taking the first sip of your tea (whether you made it yourself or ordered it in a shop) and finding out that you are sipping tea leaves rather than tea. Now, I am all for a few leaf fragments here and there. In fact, there are several teas that are traditionally drunk with some of the broken leaves left at the bottom of the cup (Japanese green teas, for example). But too many tea leaves is just not conducive to a good cup of tea, or a relaxing tea time.
But why does this happen? When brewing loose tea that is not whole leaf (that is teas where the leaves are broken up during processing) often the smallest bits will slip through the holes of the infuser. This is particularly common with teas that have a lot of tea dust. If you are brewing whole leaf tea, this will likely not be a problem, as the leaves are large enough to not slip through the infuser mesh. However, if you favour the method whereby you let the leaves brew in your teapot without an infuser, you might end up with one or two of them sneaking into your cup through the spout of the teapot.
So how do you avoid this? The key is to use an infuser appropriate for your tea. For finer teas, an infuser with a smaller mesh is required to prevent all of those bits ending up in your cup. If you take a closer look at your teawares, you might discover that some have infusers with larger holes than others. Ceramic infusers will often be among those with larger holes, and these teawares should be reserved for use with whole leaf tea, or tea where the fragments are large enough to not slip through the holes.
This issue is not just for tea; it also applies to herbal infusions. For example, a rooibos infusion consists of such fine pieces that an infuser with larger holes will not do you any favours. However herbal infusions made up of dried fruits will most likely be suitable for the same infuser, as the dried fruit pieces tend to be sizeable and will expand during steeping.
When I made my cup of tea the other day, I had inadvertently grabbed an infuser that was not appropriate for my finely processed tea. I won’t be making that mistake again—or at least not any time soon. So here’s to not having too much tea in my tea!
See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.
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