A Gentleman’s Guide On How To Make Loose Leaf Tea
You’re the type of guy who has a taste for the finer things in life. You’ve got two pairs of Allen Edmonds in the closet, a wallet that was hand-made in Italy, and enough designer Oxfords to open a damn Oxford store.
You’ll take the time to do some research because you understand the importance of quality; not just in material possessions but in everyday experiences.
This leads us to two important things:
First of all, if you aren’t drinking tea yet, you should be. We’ll go over a few reasons why a gentleman of substance should learn to appreciate a nice cup of tea in a few moments.
Secondly, if you’re still making your tea using tea bags, it’s time you step up your tea game and allow it to match the excellence that you demand from yourself in other areas of life.
Tea is the most widely-consumed drink on the planet, but outside of a small group of enthusiasts (Albeit, a group that’s been growing a lot in recent years) most people are basically drinking the fast food equivalent of tea.
It’s time you open your eyes and step one layer deeper, into the delicious and relaxing world of loose leaf tea.
Tea can range from pennies a glass all the way up to $3,000 per kg for some of the world’s finest leaves. Don’t worry, making the switch to loose leaf green tea isn’t going to break the bank. It’s more expensive than typical bagged tea, but the quality of the experience is a lot more rewarding. As with anything in life, it’s a little bit more work for a much better experience.
A few of the benefits of drinking tea:
There are countless health benefits that have been attributed to drinking various types of tea, you can find the scientific studies very easily online, but we’re going to be focusing on some of the other benefits.
It’s a lot classier than “just water.” – Out for a bite, don’t feel like alcohol for whatever reason? Tea gives you another option besides ordering “just water”.
That little boost. – Tea has more caffeine than you might expect, but generally less than coffee. It’s a great way to keep that morning caffeine buzz rolling later on into the day without becoming a jittery mess.
Tea can prevent tooth decay and fight bad breath. – Granted, you should already be on top of these things, but who can’t use some extra reassurance every now and then?
It’s a healthier break from the day. – Cigarettes, cigars, sweets… There are many vices that help to break up the day, to relax, and to calm he who consumes them. None of those things are particularly good for you, but tea certainly is.
The Basics – What You’ll Need
You really don’t need to break the bank to get started with loose leaf tea. All in, you’re looking at about $20-$30 for everything you’ll need. If you’re okay with spending a few hundred (Which you should be), we’ll also take a look at a more refined setup in a moment.
- Some loose leaf tea – $5 (We’ll go over the different types in a few moments)
- A tea-infuser – $5-$10 (This holds the leaves.)
- A teacup – $5 (You drink from this.)
- A kettle -$10+ (This makes your water hot.)
Pretty simple, right? Cheekiness aside, there’s really not much to it. You can even get some teacups or mugs with built-in infusers. If you don’t want to use a kettle, you can simply boil water on your stove.
Advanced – What You’ll Want
Now, if you’re looking to take things to the next level (Aren’t you always?), you can look into some fancier tea rigs.
- High-end loose leaf tea – $50 (It all starts with the tea. You can really treat yourself, but at the end of the day you’re drinking leaves, not a pricetag, so go with whatever you enjoy the most.)
- Seven tea-infusers – $70 (You’ll need more than one, just trust us.)
- A unique teacup – $??? (Why settle for ordinary? Here are some of the most unique teacups on the planet.)
- An electric kettle – $100 (The Cuisinart PerfecTemp is basically the granddaddy of electric kettles.)
There’s no steep learning curve
Pardon the pun, but it’s true. You’ll learn the perfect amount of time to let your tea leaves steep after a few tries. Typically 3-4 minutes is best, but it can vary depending on which type of tea you’re drinking and how hot the water is.
Most quality loose leaf teas will come with guidelines to get you started, but honestly as long as you don’t let it sit for too long (this causes the tea to get “burnt”, essentially, and releases a bitter taste) you’ll be doing just fine.
All this talk of different types of tea…
Basically, there are six primary types of tea. They all come from the same plant, they’re all the same leaves, but they’re processed differently.
White tea – It’s the least processed. The leaves are picked, dried, and then served.
Green tea – The leaves of green tea remain green because they’re oxidized.
Yellow tea – This is a rare type of tea, you won’t see it very often unless you go looking for it. Yellow tea leaves have a very short oxidization process.
Oolong tea – This is a semi-oxidized tea. The leaves are plucked, wilted, and shaken up to bruise the edges which releases fluid to continue the oxidization process, and causing the leaves to turn a brownish color.
Black tea – This is fully oxidized tea, and is commonly what you’ll find inside tea bags in North America.
Puerh tea – The sixth type of tea is fermented, and can be aged for decades.
There are also a variety of other types of tea that are either created by blending tea leaves with other herbs and spices and various ingredients, or that don’t contain any tea leaves whatsoever. You can make a tea out of practically anything, from dandelions to turmeric, dried fruit to mint, and everything in between.
If you’re picking out loose leaf tea for the first time, try a few different varieties! There’s a Teavana or a David’s in most major shopping malls, they’re aren’t the pinnacle of tea but they’re definitely an alright place to start. There are also a lot of great, independent tea vendors all around the world when you’re ready to sharpen your tastes.
Men of Substance Drinking Tea
Are you under the misconception that drinking tea is “dainty” pursuit, or not manly enough for you? Do you think that if it’s not scotch, you should be ashamed to drink it (Actually, this isn’t too far from reality…) But in any case, think again. Here are some incredibly successful men, with unquestionable manliness, enjoying some tea.
Famous Men Who Drink Tea: Al Pacino, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, James Dean, David Beckham, Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Laurie and Michael Caine.