What if you want a cup of tea and you have a bag of loose tea but no teapot with infuser to brew it in? What can you do? This may seem like a big problem, but the fact of the matter is brewing loose tea is dead simple, and there are lots of ways to do it. In this article, we will present some smart ideas to help you learn how to brew loose tea without a teapot. Read on to learn more.
Use a tea ball
If you happen to have a tea ball knocking around in the back of one of your kitchen drawers, you’re in luck. A tea ball is a round or egg-shaped metal ball perforated with lots of tiny holes. The idea is, you fill the ball loosely with tea leaves and steep it in a cup of hot water just as if it were a teabag.
A tea ball is a good investment because you buy it once and it allows you to try lots of different kinds of loose teas. It is also very earth friendly. Your steeped tea leaves can just be tossed into your compost bin to feed your potted plants or your garden.
Use cheesecloth to make a teabag
If you don’t have a tea ball but you do (for some odd reason) happen to have cheesecloth, you can cut a 3” square, measure a teaspoonful of loose tea into the center of it, fold up the edges and tie it into a parcel with thread or string. Don’t make it too tight. Hot water should be able to circulate freely around the tea leaves.
Drop this bundle into your pre-warmed teacup and pour hot water over it. Cover the cup and allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes.
Uncover the cup and give the tea a stir. Use the teaspoon to retrieve your homemade teabag. Give it a little squeeze and then toss it. It’s not worth your trouble to try to reuse it!
Use a coffee filter to make a teabag
In a variation on the cheesecloth idea, you can use a plain coffee filter to fashion your own teabag. Just cut it to size (if you wish), measure a teaspoonful of tea into the middle of it. Fold it loosely and staple it shut. Use it as you would any stringless teabag.
Use two cups and a strainer
If you don’t have a tea ball or cheesecloth, you can simply steep your loose tea in one cup or mug and then pour it through a tea strainer into another cup or mug. If you have a large Pyrex measuring cup, this makes a good choice for your steeping cup.
Follow these steps:
- Put your water on to boil.
- Fill both cups or mugs with hot tap water to pre-warm.
- When your water has boiled, empty the tap water out of your steeping cup, measure in the tea and pour your boiled water over it.
- Cover the steeping cup with a lid (or an inverted saucer) and allow the tea to steep for 3-5 minutes.
- Empty the hot tap water out of your drinking mug.
- Place the tea strainer over the drinking mug and pour the steeped tea through it.
- Add sugar, milk or lemon as desired.
As a variation, you might brew the loose tea in your brewing cup in the microwave. To do this, measure the loose tea into the cup and fill the cup with fresh, cold water. Place it in the microwave and heat to desired temperature. Remove the brewing cup from the microwave and give it a quick stir. Cover it for three minutes and then strain your tea into a pre-warmed drinking cup or mug.
Make sun tea or cold brew tea
You can use a glass jar with a lid to make iced tea or tea that you can heat up in the microwave to enjoy as hot tea. Here’s how:
- Measure a teaspoonful of loose tea leaves per cup into a clean glass jar with a lid.
- Fill the jar with fresh, cold water and put the lid on tightly.
- Place the jar in direct sun for a couple of hours or in your refrigerator overnight.
- Use a tea strainer to decant the tea into a pitcher or another glass jar.
- Store the tea in your refrigerator. It will keep for about 3 days.
- Serve over ice or heat in the microwave cup-by-cup.
Don’t try to reheat previously steeped tea on the stovetop. It will become bitter.
Use a double boiler to make Turkish tea
Turkish tea is brewed slowly to bring out the richness of loose tea. Traditionally it is prepared in a special, double-kettle Turkish teapot, but you could make it in a double boiler. This would allow you to enjoy some very special loose tea, even without a teapot.
TIP: If you don’t have an actual double boiler, any two cooking pots that will stack securely with a tight seal between can be used. For the best tea flavor, be sure to use porcelain, Pyrex or stainless steel pots.
Here’s a charming video that demonstrates how Turkish tea is traditionally made:
To do this using a double boiler, you would:
- Measure your tea leaves into the top part of the double boiler.
- Measure enough cold, fresh water for your tea (plus a little extra) into the bottom of the double boiler.
- Set the bottom part of the double boiler on your burner and put the top portion in place. Use medium heat.
- Pour enough cold, fresh water over the tea leaves to just cover them.
- Put the lid on the top of the double boiler.
- Stay close by (stirring the tea leaves occasionally) and wait until you just hear the water starting to boil.
- Carefully remove the top part of the double boiler and set it on a strong, stable, heat-proof surface. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Slowly and carefully pour hot water over the tea leaves to make a strong tea concentrate. You should still have quite a bit of water in the bottom part of the double boiler.
- Reassemble the double boiler and return it to the burner on a low heat setting.
- Allow the tea to mull for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the concentrate into pre-heated cups or small glasses and dilute as you desire with hot water from the bottom of the double boiler. For safety’s sake, you may wish to use a dipper to transfer the tea concentrate and the hot water from the pots.
Turkish tea is traditionally made using black tea. It is called Chai, and it is served black with beet sugar cubes. Individual imbibers can dilute the tea concentrate to suit their preference.
Have strainer – will brew!
The bottom line is, if you have a way to make some sort of teabag or you have a container for brewing, a strainer and a container for drinking, you can make loose tea without a teapot. If you don’t have a strainer, allow your tea to sit until the leaves sink to the bottom and then pour it very carefully to avoid transferring any leaves.
Refer to these tips when creatively brewing loose tea without tea ware at home, school or office or in your travels.