minimum that you'll need is:
2. Good water - if your water is chlorinated or you don't like the taste
of tap water, use filtered or bottled water for your tea, particularly
bottled spring water - it makes a difference!
3. Measuring spoon - the variable measuring spoons that slide from 1/8
tsp. and from 1 tsp. to 1 Tbl. are ideal. Although it's better to get a
pocket-sized scale that weighs in grams like the My Weigh 400Z because
voluminous teas are difficult to measure accurately with a spoon and
teas are measured by weight, not by volume, but when you're just
starting out with loose teas, you're more likely to buy smaller, broken
leaves for which a spoon will do just fine.
4. Kettle or some kind of pot for boiling water - I got my 3-qt. kettle from Big Lots for only $10 and
my neighbor got a
kettle for $6.00 from Wal-Mart. Both are stainless steel, whistle, and
have a lidded
opening on top for easy filling and cleaning. An electric kettle saves
energy by being faster to boil water than the stove, but the initial
outlay costs more. Using a microwave is not advised because it doesn't
boil water and it makes tea taste flat. Also, it's dangerous if your
microwave doesn't have a temperature probe you can set since microwaved
water may superheat and explode without ever coming to a rolling boil
like on top of a stove. If you insist on using a microwave, please be
sure to insert a microwave-safe object into the water such as a wooden
stick, plastic stirrer, or microwave-safe thermometer so that it doesn't
explode. Also, an instant-read thermometer may be used (outside the
microwave) to pre-determine how much time is required to heat water to
the desired temperature. Use that time setting religiously, remembering
that determining the appropriate time has to be done for each microwave
that you use because all are different.
you don't believe that people have been scalded without any warning,
please read about my personal experience
with exploding water.
5. Instant-read thermometer for oolong, green, yellow, and white teas - I bought
an Accurite thermometer for $5.44 from Wal-Mart that's in 2 degree
increments. A digital instant-read thermometer sells for <$12.
Microwave-safe thermometers are available online for about $8.00.
6. Teapot - if you don't already have one, a Pyrex
cup or anything into which you may pour boiling water without it breaking will
do. If there isn't a lid, a saucer, bowl, or plate should be used as a
cover in order to retain heat, flavor, and aroma while the tea steeps.
7. Timer that indicates minutes and seconds - I use the one on my microwave
8. Infusing basket or strainer - the best strainer I've found for
capturing small leaf particles and rooibos is the Empress Tea Room Tea
Strainer with Drip Bowl by G&H Tea Services that's available from
various websites for $4 to $4.50 (or more). Ekco makes a coarser-meshed,
but still decent stainless steel strainer that Wal-Mart sells for
<$2.00. The best brewing baskets are Chatsford, Finum/Teeli, and
SwissGold because they give leaves the most room to expand of any infusers
and have very fine mesh to retain leaf particles keeping your beverage
from oversteeping and clean so you don't get leaves in your mouth.
Cozy or towel to cover your teapot to help retain warmth.
10. Cup or mug.
Container(s) to store your tea(s) - Since tea is robbed of its freshness
and flavor by exposure to heat, light, moisture, and air, you need to
store your tea at room temperature in an airtight container in a dark,
dry location away from the heat of the stove. Tea tins or ceramic
canisters with air-tight lids are ideal for this purpose. Foil sample
packets may be folded, paper-clipped shut, and stored in plastic zip
bags. Tea readily absorbs other aromas and flavors, so don't leave a
container open around other foods and avoid storing open packets of
different teas together in a single container or reusing a storage
container for a dissimilar tea. It's possible for oolong or black
teas that are stored well to last 2 years (valued Pu-Erhs are known to
have been kept 30 years, but Pu-Erhs are the exception) although green,
yellow, and white teas should be consumed within a year. Here are a
couple of suggestions for inexpensive tins if your tea isn't available
for purchase in tins:
The 4 oz tins at Culinary Teas:
At Upton, the 125g tins and the 250g tins:
Other options are available from both sites as well as other places.