One of the joys of drinking tea is that you can have it any way you want. Making tea is a simple process but it can become really complicated. It all depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s that simple, can you actually make tea without a teapot? Read this article to find out!
The short answer is yes; you can make tea without a teapot. The long answer is that you can make tea without a teapot, but you will only get a small fraction of what your tea has to offer. Using a small teapot and brewing tea Gong Fu offers more complexity and depth.
Process of making tea
Making tea can be really simple and it can also get really complicated. Making tea in a simple way is fast, easy, and you don’t need any extra tools to drink a cup of tea. However, this simplicity has some downsides, which is why tea geeks avoid brewing tea this way.
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The simplest way of making tea is by brewing it Western style. This means that you take some tea leaves, put them in a strainer, and place the strainer in a mug or teapot. Pour hot water over the leaves and let the leaves infuse for a while. Then remove them from the mug/teapot.
Brewing tea in a more elaborate way can get as complicated as you want. One way of brewing tea this way is the Chinese Tea Ceremony. You need some basic tools like small teacups, a teapot, and a pitcher. Brewing tea this way is called Gong Fu Cha and has a long history because it turns drinking tea into a whole ceremony.
Keep in mind that when I mention tea leaves, I’m always talking about high-quality and unblended loose leaf tea, especially if you want to brew tea Gong Fu. The better quality the tea is you’re starting with, the better results you’ll experience. Stay away from teabags at all costs!
Brewing tea Western style
The simplest way to make a cup of tea is by doing it Western style. You put some leaves in a tea strainer, infuse them in a mug and remove them after a couple of minutes.
This is really simple but is not the ideal way to brew tea if you want to get everything out of the tea leaves. Brewing tea this way allows for partial extraction and you will only get a small fraction of the flavors, aromas, … of what the tea has to offer.
Simplicity comes with limitations so it might not be the right way to brew tea for you. However, if you’re in a hurry and just want a cup of tea, it might be exactly what you need.
You can make tea without a teapot if you’re making a cup of tea Western style. You only need to heat water, infuse tea leaves in a large mug and remove the tea leaves once they have steeped long enough.
Brewing tea Gong Fu
If you have time and you want to get everything out of those precious and expensive tea leaves; brewing them according to the Chinese Tea Ceremony might be your best option.
Gong Fu Cha has a long tradition and has been passed on for several generations. It has evolved over the years, but the essence has stayed more or less the same.
It basically means that you put a high amount of tea leaves in a small teapot, rinse the leaves, infuse them for a short time and pour the tea liquor from your teapot into a pitcher. Then use the pitcher to serve the guests (or yourself) by pouring tea into the small cups.
Brewing tea Gong Fu results in the best experience is almost always used to brew puerh tea and to brew Liu Bao.
Difference between Western-style and Gong Fu tea brewing
Brewing tea Gong Fu means that you use more tea leaves and infuse them for a shorter time compared to making tea Western style. Because of this, the tea or more concentrated so you will get more of the smaller nuances and details.
It seems counter-intuitive but brewing tea Gong Fu is more cost-effective compared to brewing tea Western style. You will get more tea liquor out of the same amount of tea leaves.
When you’re making tea Western style, you use around 3 g for a regular mug. With 3 g of tea leaves, you can make 2 or 3 mugs for a total of around 500 ml. Which is still a lot more than a supermarket teabag.
When brewing tea Gong Fu, you would use around 4-5 g of tea for a 100ml teapot. You can definitely do more than 10 short infusions, each one increasing in length. Which makes brewing tea this way more cost-effective.
So yes, you can make tea without a teapot but you’ll lose out on the majority of what your tea has to offer. It’s a real shame if you pay a lot of money and only taste 20-30% of it.
A comparison I often make is that of an orchestra. If an orchestra consists of 5 people, you won’t have the same music and diversity of instruments compared to an orchestra of 100 people. No matter how loud the small orchestra plays, you will never have the same depth and complexity as the big orchestra.