There are so many ways to brew tea. As you know, my favorite fancy method is to use a french press. Both my husband and I worked for Starbucks (not at the same time) and we got to use our nifty discount on sale items, so we have quite a collection of them. But you can get them for about $15 most places. Ikea even sells one for 5 bucks. I really only use the french press for tea parties or special occasions though, too much cleaning, and for this Goldilocks, the size is hardly ever just right.
So what do we do?? Well, in terms of brewing equipment I’ve probably tried everything on the market. Chalk it up to R&D or the consumer virus, but from bamboo strainers to cheesecloth, I’ve tried it all. And nothing really seems to work as well as my own simple method. When we lived in Seattle, we lived in an old apartment that had shitty drainage in the sink, so we couldn’t let anything down the train. I purchased a couple of mesh sink strainers at the dollar store to cover the drain. They came 2 in a pack and they worked great. Then we moved to Phoenix. I’m not really sure why I kept them, but they ended up traveling with us here where they sat in the ‘junk’ drawer. They got lost along with all the other very important things whose purpose had long since been forgotten in this drawer.
When I started drinking tea, I began, like most I presume, with the infamous tea ball. But, while convenient, it’s limitations are many. You can only make one cup of tea, it is a pain to clean, that little clasp never really stays shut or it just breaks off, and it doesn’t let the tea swim free. Now this last point is probably the most important. You see, your tea is alive. It has energy that wants to bounce around and seep out into your water. How can it do this if it is all crammed up in a little ball?? (enter clever symbolic life metaphor here) All kidding aside, you will get the most out of your leaves if you let them float about in your water as they please. So I started looking for something a bit more comfortable for my precious leaves.
Like any good consumer, I tried a number of ‘free’ strainers but none lived up to their marketed potential. The tea didn’t stay in the contraption (see it wanted to get out!) or it was a pain to clean or too hard to get leaves into. I had relegated myself to using the french press. Then one magical day my 18-month-old delivered me. I had just ended a fight with a ridiculous bamboo strainer (whose price tag begged for a second chance) that ended with me tossing it across the room, when I noticed Sevi had discovered the junk drawer. She had pulled everything out of it and was categorizing the pieces in some genius toddler way I was not privy too. While I reveled in her discovery of new and exciting things, in one pile, I spotted that old sink strainer.
I immediately put on some water and grabbed a mason jar. I threw a couple teaspoons of nettle in the jar and let it sit for a few minutes. What happened next was the type of divine event one regularly experiences while living with children, when you’re paying attention. I grabbed a random teacup from the cupboard and placed the strainer over the top. It. Fit. Perfectly. I strained the tea from the jar into my cup, dumped the tea garbage in the compost bowl and with a quick rinse I was enjoying a fresh cup of tea. No fuss. No muss. It was just right.
Brewing large amounts of tea.
When I want to make more than a few cups, I just use a quart size mason jars. However, when we make big tea for the sun tea jar in the fridge, I just put it in a 2 quart pot on the stove. Fill the pot with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, add 1-1/4 cups herbs, cover with lid and steep for at least an hour (I go about 8). For this I usually strain it into a large mixing bowl with a regular large mesh strainer, also bought at dollar store. To get even more use out of your fifty cent investment, you can keep it on the stove and ladle yourself one cup at a time using the sink strainer while it’s brewing, if you can’t wait.