Method 2: The ‘Filter tea’ method
This method is where things get interesting. We begin using separate brewing and drinking vessels, and separate the leaves from the liquor using a filter of some sort.
We now have options to experiment with brewing times and tea strength, have more variables to play with and can also get more steeps from the tea.
The benefit of multiple steeps (aside from the fact that you get more tea!) is that you can start to really appreciate the different layers and depths of your tea.
The first infusion is often very light and fragrant. The second and third steeps tend to be more full and obvious, and the subsequent steepings reveal the deeper, less obvious notes of the tea.
Some teas give up their best flavour and aroma quickly, and it’s all over within 3-4 steeps, and some can seem like they go on forever, revealing layer after layer as you steep long in to the night.
Tea lingo: Teas that last longer are generally referred to as ‘patient’.
The road to mastery begins here
This method puts the tools in your hands to begin exploring the wonderful, mysterious world of high end tea for yourself.
This is the proving ground that raises you up from nervous novice to ‘gong fu tea’ pro.
The best part?
It’s really easy to do, you don’t need to purchase expensive equipment, and when you do it right the quality of tea you can brew is genuinely high quality.
I use this method when I am working or moving around. For example: I will have a bowl on my desk to drink from, and use a glass flask to brew the tea easily, as I move around the office or home.
Another common use case is when travelling. Often, you don’t have space to bring your entire gongfu set up, so levelling down using simple ‘filter tea’ principles is ideal.
Why ‘Filter Tea’?
I call this method ‘filter tea’, because that’s the extra factor we bring in to level us up from Method 1: Leaves in method.
The concept of ‘filter tea’ is very broad, and simply means that we will filter the tea between brewing and drinking.
The classic ‘English Teapot’ (often referred to as ‘Western brewing’) fits into this method, as does a glass teapot or flask with a metal filter built in, a french press (commonly used for coffee) or even a strainer ball inside your cup (although I don’t like this method as you are brewing with metal in your tea).
If you do use a french press, try to use a new one, not one that has been used for coffee. Coffee has a particularly lingering presence, and tea is particularly absorbent and easily affected by other aromas. You will lose the lighter, more subtle notes of Living Leaf Tea if you are brewing in a ‘coffee flavoured’ pot.
Don’t brew in plastic or metal
I prefer to work with glass or clean ceramic / porcelain for this method. Avoid using plastic or metal as it will influence the flavour and energy of the tea negatively.
You will notice that all the pictures above (which were found online) have some element of metal touching the tea while brewing, with the exception of the french press, in which the metal part can be raised above the water while the tea is brewing.
For this reason, I prefer to use a glass flask with a smaller filter, like this:
The metal filter on these flasks is raised above the water when brewing, and can be easily removed from the flask when adding hot water.
The double-walled glass is great for preserving heat and they are also very clean and easy to use.
I use it almost every day, especially when travelling or working.
These flasks are my number one recommendation for brewing Filter Tea, and you can purchase one directly from us if you like:
The Steps: How to brew ‘Filter Tea’
For this method you will need:
- Loose leaf tea (all Living Leaf Teas work well with this method)
- Hot water
- A vessel to brew the tea in (See above)
- A filter (usually attached to the brewing vessel)
- A bowl or cup(s) to drink the tea from
Important note: make sure the cup(s) you intend to drink the tea from are larger than the vessel you choose to brew the tea in!
You need to be able to completely empty the brewing vessel after each infusion. If you can not, the remaining water will continue to brew the tea, and it will become stewed.
Brewing this way takes about as much time as it does to prepare a filter coffee (maybe slightly faster), but less messy and you get multiple brews!
The steps are as follows:
Step 1: Add leaves to your brewing vessel
Add tea leaves to your brewing vessel (teapot, glass flask, french press etc).
A rough guide is about the same amount as you would find in a tea bag, but you may want to add more depending on the size of your pot (if you would usually add two tea bags to a large teapot for example, use the equivalent amount of dry leaves).
Step 2: Add hot water and brew
Pour hot water into the brewing vessel and allow the tea to ‘brew’.
You may wait anything from 5 to 60 seconds, depending on how much dry leaf you used, how strong you like your tea, how hot the water is etc. Start with 10-15 seconds and see how the tea comes out.
This is going to be the fun part that you experiment with over time.
(Note: in the picture my metal filter is above the water while brewing. Brewing with metal inside the water tends to influence the flavour of the tea negatively.)
Step 3: Pour (filter) the tea
Pour the tea through the filter into your drinking cup(s).
Step 4: Enjoy your tea & brew again
Your tea is ready as soon as it is cool enough to drink. You may enjoy smelling the fragrance of the tea in the cup at this stage, and you can also try smelling the wet leaves and steam coming from the brewing cup. An enjoyable fragrance is one hallmark of a high quality tea.
The wet leaves (pictured) can be brewed multiple times, depending on how much leaf you used and how long each of your brews are. At least 3-4 brews is a general guideline for this method.
Refining your Filter Tea Game
BONUS STEP 1: Wash and ‘wake up’ your tea before brewing
If you’re ready to start working on your tea game, you can add add an extra step between steps 1 and 2.
After you have added your leaves, but before you brew the tea, you can add some hot water (less than the amount of a full brew) give the tea a quick ‘swirl’ and then discard the water (using the filter, so the tea leaves stay in the pot!).
This extra step has the effect of cleaning the leaves, ‘waking them up’ (getting them ready to be brewed) and releasing some of the fragrance for you to enjoy.
I personally find it very ‘hard’ to brew without this step. Once you begin brewing with a wash pour, you will find it makes a nicer first infusion.
(Note: You have just taken your first step on the path to brewing ‘Kung Fu tea’ like a pro!)
BONUS STEP 2: Pre-heat your cup and brewing vessel
Preserving the heat is one of the most important aspects of brewing high quality tea (as we will learn about in ‘Method 3: Gong Fu Tea’ next). So for super bonus points, pre-heat everything by pouring hot water through your vessels before adding the dry leaf.
Add the hot water to the brewing vessel (including pouring it through the filter), then pour it out into your cup. Now add the dry leaf to the empty, but warm, brewing vessel.
Wait just a few seconds… and now smell the dry, warm leaf in the brewing vessel. Doesn’t that smell wonderful?
Now go ahead with your wash pour or first infusion.
This method is super simple, and my ‘most used’ method as I go about my day (ie. I am not sat down at my gongfu tea table). It is also very flexible. As long as the principles of ‘Brewing vessel -> Filter -> Drinking cup’ are held to, you can experiment freely with what you use for each of the vessels and filter.
Tea can be infused this way 2-3 times at a minimum, and up to 5-6 or more depending how long you are brewing for, how much leaf you used and the temperature of the water.