What tea accessories do I need for loose leaf tea steeping?

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

For a wholesome tea experience we need a few accessories to make it happen. This becomes particularly important, when you drink a loose leaf tea - learn more about what to consider to make it a holistic experience.

Tea set with two cups of premium organic loose leaf tea.
Tea set with two cups of freshly brewed loose leaf tea.

In this blog post we will focus on going through the key tea accessories that can transform your daily tea drinking routine into a ritual you look forward to every day.

Loose leaf tea … where do I start?

Some of us may start with this very question, particularly, if you are switching from tea bags to loose leaf tea and are broadening your flavour horizons (trying all sorts of different tea types rather than just sticking to one ‘classic’ brew). If we had to put those key accessories in a list it would look like this:

  • Tea strainer/infuser

  • Drinking vessel - mug or a teacup

  • Tea canisters - tins or jars

  • For matcha: chasen and mixing bowl

What’s a tea strainer/infuser and how to choose one?

Tea strainer/infuser is your reusable ‘tea bag’. It’s small, light and portable so it’s perfect when you are travelling as well. (I take mine with me all the time!). Ideally your tea strainer is made of stainless steel and acts as a ‘multi use tea bag’ to brew your tea from loose leafs. Steel is always better than plastic (will last much longer), so try to get a good one. There are plenty of cute shapes and colours, I personally like it simple, but go nuts if that’s what you fancy.

Now, think about the size. You can get one that makes one cuppa, or can get bigger ones that are suitable for the whole pot - either way it’s all about separating the leaves from your freshly boiled drink. I like the ones that are ‘enclosed’ or have a lid - it’s important that the temperature doesn’t drop too fast, otherwise it will impact the final outcome (your tea won’t get the full flavour). It’s like creating a mini perfect environment for the tea leaves to unfurl and infuse the liquid. It’s also a good idea to make sure your leaves aren’t going to be squashed (again, you want your leaves to have enough space to open up and release the aroma).

How to pick teaware?

This is a very personal choice. Depending on how you like to take your tea (it could be as simple as a favourite mug or as fancy as a nice porcelain tea set with teacups and saucers) you will be using some sort of teaware to drink from. If it's a simple mug that you love just make sure it’s clean and ready to go. I like my mug to be warmed up, so I often pour boiling hot water in and give it a quick rinse before I make my tea in it. It’s not necessary, but I find that it helps retaining the right temperature for the tea steeping process.

Some people like clear drinking vessels to appreciate the aesthetics of the tea, especially if the tea is premium jasmine pearls or tea blooming balls. You could consider getting a double wall glass cup so you can keep looking at your tea while drinking it. There are plenty of choices and interesting options to look into.

I personally have a few different cups and depending on the tea type and mood I pick one that works for me best. For example, when I drink green tea I like little cups, and when I steep chamomile I prefer it in a bigger mug. Don't ask me why!

Getting a little teapot may also be a good idea, particularly if you enjoy making bigger tea serves and/or share it with others. I find that there is nothing more satisfying than sharing a delicious cup of tea with someone close (while drinking it from a nice teaware of course!). If you are a couple, you could consider getting something as cute as ‘couple’s mug’. I like my tea too much to share in this fashion but you may like it!

Storing your tea in tins or jars

It’s important to store your tea in the right way so you can enjoy it for longer. I have seen so many times how people just keep the tea exposed without any proper barriers and are surprised it doesn’t taste as amazing … Well. be smart with how you preserve your tea.

As a rule of thumb, it should be stored in a dark (avoiding sunlight) spot in an airtight container (jars and tins are ideal). It’s all about blocking the moisture/odours to get into your tea. If tea is stored properly you get about 2 years out of it. If kept in direct sunlight without much ‘barrier’ it’s going to lose it’s flavour much faster (like - it’s fine to drink but not as flavoursome). Same applies to tea bags, although they are much less flavoursome by definition (well, most of them) considering the type of leaves used for this is known as ‘tea dust’ - the lowest grade tea that doesn’t have much natural aroma in comparison to premium organic loose leaf teas. Of course, there are some great examples of tea bags, but this blog post is not about this. Try also not to keep your tea next to the stove - it will gradually absorb some of the cooking smells if you aren’t careful.

At Oolo, we use biodegradable cylinders and our packaging protects the tea for about 12 months if you store your cylinder in a cool, dark spot. If you like, you could move it into a jar or tin to prolong its life.

Matcha specific accessories

If you are into matcha (depending on how you buy it - powder or ready to go little tea bags), you might also like to consider getting a special tea whisk and a bowl to prepare your tea (whisking turns your powder into a nice creamy texture). The matcha whisk, otherwise referred to as a chasen, is a crucial element in creating a well blended and creamy tea. A chasen is carved from a single piece of bamboo into numerous ‘tines’, which can range from 60-240; most will commonly have 80-100 tines. There is a reason it’s made of bamboo - it’s flexible yet durable at the same time. When whisking matcha powder vigorously, it will bend to the shape of the matcha bowl to protect the bowl’s finish (so it’s not getting out creating a mess), yet retain its own shape when done whisking. Additionally, bamboo doesn’t absorb odours so it won’t compromise the flavour of your matcha tea.

Key takeaways

There are plenty of options to turn your daily tea drinking into a pleasant ritual. Whether it’s finding that perfect cup you will fall in love with or picking a perfect chasen for your matcha, it’s all a really fun thing to do.

Remember to store your tea properly with a key emphasis on:

  • No direct sunlight, and ‘exposed’ tea leaves (protect them in jars/tins from the sun, temperature and moisture)

  • Don’t keep your tea next to the stove/where you cook as it will progressively absorb un-tea like aromas (trust us, while tea blending is fun, tasting fish in your tea may not be as fun).

What are your favourite tea accessories? Do you have any other interesting tips on tea storage? Let us know by leaving a comment under this post or jump on our forum to share your thoughts.