Taking time for tea

I was pleased to read a post about teabags on nannachel's blog yesterday as a follow up to my link to how tea bags are made.  Chel wrote to Neranda, the maker of the tea she buys. You can read here what they wrote back. This tied in well with my planned post today because a few readers wrote and asked what's the best way to make tea using loose eat instead of tea bags.  They've all been tea baggers in the past, have never made loose tea, and want to change.  So here goes.  

If you make frequent cups of tea or coffee, it's a good idea to set up a tea station. Organise this close to where you keep your cups and electric kettle, or next to the stove where you boil water. In addition to the tea, store your sugar, honey, tea spoons, tea strainers and tea pot there. 

There are many different tea balls and baskets of varying shapes and sizes, the ones I have here are just a few of the vast variety.  Buy what you think will work best for you. I can't tell you which shops have these things but you'll probably find them in Kmart and Target as well as the kitchen shops.  You'll also need some loose leaf tea.  Like Chel, I buy Neranda tea.  I buy the 250 gram pack for $3. It's always cheaper to buy loose leaf tea and it's usually better quality tea.  This pack will last us 4-6 weeks. How much you use will depend on how strong or weak you like your tea, how big your cups or mugs are and how many people you're making tea for. Don't buy too much at a time. A 250gram pack is good for a single person or a couple, 500 grams for a larger number. 

The tea basket over the side of the cup and the tea basket in the cup will help you make a good cup of tea for one using loose tea.

Of course you could always pay much more for organic black loose leaf tea - it's at least double the price but I'm happy with Neranda. It's grown and processed in Australia, it's insecticide-free, it's very tasty and I can get it locally at a very good price. I'm also fond of Earl Grey tea, which is just black tea with the essential oil bergamot added. However, a 125 gram pack of Twinings Earl Grey loose tea costs $7, so it's an occasional buy, not a frequent one, here. I used to buy King tea but I haven't seen it in any store lately.  Another one bites the dust.

A tea pot and a tea strainer will have you making tea the same way your great grandma made it.

The traditional way to make tea is in a tea pot.  I have a large tea ball (above) in which I put three teaspoons of tea and cover with boiling water. I let it brew with the lid on for about three minutes.  Large tea balls are very handy because they'll retain the tea leaves and you won't have to strain them through a tea strainer when you pour the tea.  However, you can easily just throw the loose tea into the tea pot, cover with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes to brew.  If you make tea this way, you can either use a tea strainer or carefully pour the tea into the cup. If the tea is brewed properly and you don't shake the pot, most of the tea leaves will remain at the bottom of the pot and you won't need a strainer.


Above and below, these tea balls are like tea bags. They float in the boiling water and slowly the tea is brewed. When you remove the ball, it sits in the little cup to drain. They can be used repeatedly for years and are easily cleaned in the dish washer or can be washed by hand.


A pot of tea is ideal for a group of two or three, or more.  If the tea is for you alone, use one of the little tea balls, or a tea basket hooked over the side of the cup or a basket inside the cup.  One teaspoon of tea, pour over boiling water and let it sit for three minutes. The crucial element here is time.  Tea needs time to brew. The boiling water will soften the tea leaves and leaving them to steep for a few minutes will give you a full flavoured cuppa. You can then add milk, honey, sugar or lemon, depending on your taste.

Tea can be reused a few times before all the flavour goes. If you've got a few people to make tea for, make up a pot, pour the tea into all the cups you need, then add more boiling water to the pot. Allow it to steep for four minutes, remove the tea ball from the tea pot and put a tea cosy on the pot to keep it hot for a second cuppa for everyone.  And when the tea leaves are discarded, throw them into the compost where they'll decompose with the organic matter already there. The leaves will break down just like fruit and vegetable peelings do.  You can also use tea leaves on your blueberry bushes. They add a bit of acidity to the soil which the bushes love.

Good tea can't be rushed. Making tea like this and taking the time to slow yourself down enough to do it helps build slowness into your days. The urge to move through the day going as fast as possible is challenged by the process of making a cup of tea, especially if you make a pot and you go through the ritual of pouring tea from a pot. The ritual slows you down before you sit down to enjoy the tea. Surely in these days of multitasking and doing as much as you can in a day, the time you take to make a good cup of tea is an investment in your own mental health. 

32 comments

  1. I loved this post Rhonda - thanks so much. I really enjoy the whole "ceremony" of making a pot of tea, letting it brew & then sitting down to enjoy it (often with a slice of homemade cake)! I just wanted to add that you can always keep your leftover teabags OR loose leaf tea & use it to tea-dye calico & other fabrics, as I do. Often I will be making something & only have white fabrics ... but a quick soak in the tea will soon give me the creamy colour I need. Happy Thursday to you Rhonda. Thanks again for your blog & the pleasure it brings.

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  2. I was actually just reading Chel's blog. I use a small teapot and also one of those infusion spoons exactly like the one in your third photo. I take my mason jars to the organic shop and fill them with various combinations of dried herbs.
    I love my coffee every morning and have never been a big tea drinker but make a habit of making a pot at least once a day with my herbs. I am finding that I'm enjoying it more and more. It really slows me down and I feel very calm afterwards and can think straight.
    I'm trying to move my husband away from teabags. I gave him a teapot infuser for his desk at work which he uses off and on but I think a teabag may be easier at times. I'll show him the clip once again.
    Have a lovely day Rhonda.
    Kylie

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  3. I love Nerada Tea and they were so helpful when I emailed them asking about the process used for making tea bags. I have the large tea ball but I don't thnk I have seen the red and green ones. Making tea is such an interesting topic, Rhonda. Have a great day. Really windy today and cool after 30C yesterday.

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  4. When I was in England I went on a tour of Wordsworth's house. They said he and his family used to use teas 6 times, then they'd pass it on to a poor relation for them to use.

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  5. I have recently stopped using tea bags and use a 'tea ball' that I got for $1 at the op shop. It is a fine mesh ball that pops apart when you squeeze the handle. You scoop the loose leaf tea up and release the handle and the 2 sides of the ball close up.
    I have also introduced a friend to the delight of tea made in a pot and subsequently found her a 'teapot for one'in an op shop. It comes with a matching cup and the pot sits on top of the cup for neat storage. I gifted this to her with a packet of loose leaf tea(funnily enough it is Nerada tea) and she was thrilled.
    I also use Nerada because it is Australian grown and I believe in supporting Australian farmers where possible and it also reduces the food miles.
    Claire in Melbourne

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  6. I love the idea of tea but have never really liked the taste. I think that I have to try some of the straight herbal options to enjoy the tea ceremony

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  7. Hi Rhonda

    I read your post last week and now we have moved back to tea leaves. We use Nerada too. And topping up the pot really makes it go further. Much tastier and less expensive. We have a basket that sits in the top of the teapot and then straight into the compost it goes.

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  8. I'm from a long line of tea drinkers! My parents, and both sets of grandparents always made a pot of tea. I own about 5 teapots - excessive, I know - but my son buys me a new one at the school mother's day stall every year! I drink my tea black now, but I remember as a child one of my grandmothers (who also drank black tea) looked into my cup at the pale, milky brew I was drinking, and said to me "That's not tea, that's tilk!"

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    1. Ha! I make tilk for Jamie. It's his favourite drink.

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  9. I read Chel's post yesterday as well and have enjoyed reading yours, and the comments. Being at home, means that we can indulge in making a pot of tea and sitting down at our leisure to enjoy it. We have a male friend who comes around once or twice a week just for a cup of tea and the company. Also interesting to read Frogdancer's comment. I also visited Wordsworth's house in Cockermouth in the Lake's District, and was told the same story. Perhaps we could be economising further and reusing our tea another time. An interesting thought. Thanks for an interesting post Rhonda. Have a nice day.Pauline

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  10. I had to laugh, Rhonda. My grandma would NEVER use a tea-ball or any kind of infuser. You must lightly pack the tea in a spoon; one for each person and one for the pot. Another no-no is leaving tea leaves afloat in a cup, they must be skimmed out unless you are ready to read a fortune. My grandmother was head housekeeper to the Duke of Wellington; of course it was many years ago, but she taught me to make tea one summer when I was twelve years old. She would not have approved of my use of teabags, either; but had nothing against using the left over leaves to dye fabrics as has been mentioned already. But the best tea is made loose-leaf after all.

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    1. Many of us had grandmas like yours Hopflower. I'm glad we're more flexible and accepting of difference now.

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  11. We still use tea bags because my husband is averse to change but it could be afoot very soon : ) The tea bags are always composted and I do pull off the string staple and tag because I worry about the wild life. I read once about birds using dried tea bags when making their nests and the young ones got the string round their legs and therefore cutting off the circulation. We humans are very careless at times and we really need to think a bit more before we take actions.

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    1. I have heard of similar situations, Angela. And I, too, try to be cognizant of wildlife and their needs. It is important after all. Look what a mess we have made of this world already; taking care of our animals is a priority. I am pleased to know you are aware and active in this.

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  12. Nanna Chel urged me to watch the video clip yesterday, so it's definitely no more tea bags for us. Back to loose leaf tea brewed in the teapot, or if it's just me, a small amount of tea leaves in a strainer sitting on the top of my tea mug, boiling water poured over it, allowed to steep for a minute before adding the milk. Going back forty years!

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  13. What a timely post! I have spent the day with Nanna Chel and friends and visited not one, but two, tea shops. Bought some beautiful bergamot and pear tea, along with a lovely caddy to store it in. Have just had a cup of New York breakfast tea, brewed in my little tea pot for one that has an inner basket. It needs a little tea cosy. Will have to look into that!

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  14. I'm still using teabags but will make a conscious effort to switch over. You wrote a post a few years back about making tea in a teapot, about how it is a ritual, that helps you to slow down. We did it a few times, but then just went back to the teabags. I like the idea of these infusers. My husband has a cup of tea every night (just him). I drink it every now and then. I'm going to try to convert him and make it part of our routine!

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  15. i drink green loose leaf tea, occasionally black when i feel a change is needed (or more pep up) sometimes it's herbs, depending on the bushes available (very dry atm & most haven't got any leaves!) i make all mine in a teapot & i never do the recommended amounts or the teaspoon per person & one for the pot anymore, i found those amounts to be wasteful & was going through the tea way too fast plus green tea is awful if it's made too strong; in a small 2 cup teapot i usually just put in a level teaspoon or less & it comes out lovely & refreshing.
    great post Rhonda
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  16. I've got to admit that I love the process just as much as the actual drinking of the cuppa.

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  17. Thanks, Rhonda, for a fascinating article. If nothing else, it shows how similar but different we all are in our preferences. It's been a joy to read all the comments as much as the original article. Thanks all!

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  18. Nice post Rhonda.
    Recently, I shared with a friend how I wished she lived next door so if we were unable to sleep we could put our respective light on and know the other was awake and have tea.

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  19. Lovely post and comments reminding us of the joys of our own particular "Tea Ceremony " Growing up next door to my British grandmother meant many hours of chatting and hundreds of cups of tea and family stories shared.
    A very lovely tea for everyday can be made by mixing your normal black tea with 1/4 volume of Earl Grey, or adjust to your taste.

    It is interesting to read customs and old tales associated with tea, it would be fun to post some soon for all the new tea makers.
    2 of my Nan's were.....'if you can't find the teapot lid you will probably get a visitor'
    'Don't stir the tea in the pot to make it strong quicker, stirring the pot stirs up trouble'
    I'm sure some of us 'vintage ' ladies can pass on some more sayings or customs.

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  20. I must say the video showing how tea bags are made shocked me when they said there is some plastic in the material. No wonder they take so long to break down in the compost.

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  21. Great post! I absolutely love tea! I do splurge a little in this department and have a variety of loose leaf T2 teas.

    I find a cuppa is a great way to unwind and get my thoughts straight. I always have a cup with me when I am sewing. My usual line of work is quite stressful, so a cuppa when I get home from my shift is always a great place to start!

    I've grown up with loose leaf and it has always been my preference. Tea bags are convenient for when I go camping, but I think it's time I re-think that. The bags can't be healthy for you when you can see the film it leaves in your cup after adding hot water...

    MargaretP I absolutely love your Nan's second quote!!

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  22. Hi
    I am your subscriber for a long time.you are my inspiration when it comes to homemaking .i always read your blog when I feel lazy to start working at Home. It inspires me to get up and enjoy what I have to do.
    In India we always have tea which is brewed or made on the stove and had with milk . I love tea and it relaxes me after a busy day,it's my time when I sit with a cup.Those interested in the art of making Indian tea should watch a video although it changes with every home and family but the basic method remains the same.

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  23. My tea making life has been transformed by an electric water pot. It would take me 15 minutes to boil water on the stove. The pot does it in under three minutes. I make a pot of tea in the morning. One cup for me and one for my husband, then the rest goes into a carafe to keep it hot. That's enough for us to each have another cup. I work from home, so I will usually make a second pot in the morning. I like good quality loose tea and I serve it with honey and cream. I've told my husband that I require three things for happiness; tea, honey and cream. He likes Lapsang Souchong (smoky tea) but I sometimes tire of it.

    If you are really rushed (and this is tea in bags), Builders' tea is great. It steeps in less than a minute, so I keep some on hand.

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  24. We use pots that have a mesh basket that sits under the lid of the pot. Love them. I have a small pot I use for 1-2 cups, and bigger pots for when there are more of us.

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  25. Lovely post on tea, Rhonda. I can tell that you love it. Now that it is getting cooler here in California, I am drinking tea again. I like to make yogi tea from scratch. It has cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. I add soy milk and honey...delicious!

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  26. Hello Rhonda.
    Tea reheats well. You can make a pot of tea, and when it is brewed you can pour some through a tea strainer into a jug and let it cool to reheat later for a perfect cup of tea.

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  27. What a lovely post! We have just a little counter space in the kitchen, but we have a dedicated coffee/ tea area to one side of the sink. We sacrificed the dish drainer space for this as the drainer can be brought out,used, and put in the pantry after dinner, but tea is an all day event.

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  28. I have a tea station set up by the sink. It's on a tray bought from Ikea, glass jars for tea, sugar and biscuits and of course the all important kettle. We do use teabags, I can't convince husband to go to loose tea, or use a teapot which I do indulge in myself on occasion. Tea here is also an all day event.

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  29. Thank you for this beautiful post! I always learn so much from you! Such as today I learned why Earl Grey tastes slightly different from regular black tea. I love tea and serve it to my friends every Monday night when they come over to knit and crochet. Loose leaf tea is always so wonderful, I wish it was easier to find here in the United States. I have only found it from expensive companies. Oh well, tea in a bag is better than no tea at all!

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