Every morning before they leave home for work, many people in China put tea and hot water in the ubiquitous thermal travelers made commercially for this purpose. They drink tea from their travelers like those of us in the U.S. drink from the water bottles we carry around. When the liquid in their travelers gets low, they refill with hot water from just about anywhere: restaurants, schools, offices. People such as taxi drivers who don’t have immediate ready access to hot water, carry separate thermal containers full of hot water with them so they can refill their tea travelers at their convenience.
There are several tea travelers made commercially that are available to us in the U.S.A., but for one reason or another, such as the mesh being so coarse that leaf particles slip through or the metal tumbler or rim giving a metallic taste, I decided to make my own. My first one worked well for both Methods A & B, but the rim wasn't comfortable. For my second, I got a travel tumbler from Bodum and use one basket for Method A, a different basket for Method B, and a bombilla for Method C.
need for Methods A & B:
What you'll need for only Method A - to strain your beverage as you drink:
1. A fine mesh
basket infuser without a tab that fits into your traveler's mug or
For Method A with my second DYI traveler, I cut the hard plastic rim off of the People's Brew Basket so it can slip into the interchangeable caps of the thermal tumblers made by Bodum, model numbers: 1105-01B, 1105-01FM-D, 1405-01B, 1405-01FM-T, 1405-01FM-C, 10657-01B, and 10659-01B.
What you'll need for only Method B - to brew in the traveler before removing the basket:
1. A fine mesh
basket infuser such as a Teeli/Finum brew basket, available in sizes
Medium and Large, that fits into your traveler's mug or tumbler.
For Method B with my second DYI traveler, I use the large Teeli/Finum brew basket which fits snugly into the same thermal tumblers made by Bodum that I use for Method A. The large basket leaves almost unnoticeable scratches inside the tumblers causing the medium brew basket to be better for the 8 oz. tumbler. For the 16 oz. tumblers, the medium basket doesn't go down low enough into the water to give leaves enough room to expand for the best infusion.
What you'll need for Method C - to avoid staining your teeth:
1. Any traveler's mug or tumbler with an opening large enough for the stem of a bombilla ("bom-BEE-sha").
2. A bombilla - a filtering straw commonly used to drink Yerba that may be useful with teas and tisanes depending on the design of the bombilla. Some can be taken apart for cleaning, others can't. Some filters are fine enough for small tea leaves, others aren't. One of the best for travelers is the Ultimate Bombilla, product code 9002, from the Yerba Maté Café.
For teas that
may be infused multiple times in cooler-than-boiling water such as
oolong, green, yellow, and white teas; or tisanes that don't have a
maximum brewing time limit:
b. Insert basket.
c. Add hot
water and cap. Because tea will steep longer than usual, it's best that
the water is not much hotter than 120-140°F.
If you're an extremely slow sipper, taking several hours to drink your
tea at which point it's cooled to room temperature, make it a rule to
heat water to a minimum of 175°F, then let it cool, and discard any
brewed tea remaining after eight hours to avoid problems with bacteria. If
you’re not that slow, but the brew’s gotten too strong or too cool,
add more hot water to dilute the strength and warm it up again.
d. Let steep, then drink as desired.
e. Remove lid
and add more hot water, repeating as desired until leaves are spent. If
you want to save your leaves from one day to another, empty them into
something like a mesh brew basket where they'll be able to drain and
air-dry until you're ready to use them again which may be before they're
completely dry. Discard any brewed tea remaining and rinse the tumbler
well to eliminate bacterial growth overnight. This applies to anything,
commercial or DIY travelers as well as your tea vessels at home except
for cold brewed tea that's made and stored in the refrigerator the
For black teas
or other infusions with a maximum steeping time limit:
b. Insert basket into mug.
c. Add hot water and steep for desired length of time.
d. Remove basket carefully.
e. Add sweetener and milk as desired.
f. Cap traveler and drink as desired.
g. Rinse, dry,
and store basket. The People's Brew Basket fits perfectly into an empty
plastic Fleischmann's margarine tub.
If one drinks
only black teas, a Teeli/Finum brew basket is better than the People's
Brew Basket because the lid confines the heat making a better brew. It
also allows more room for the tea to expand and the extended tabs make
it easier to remove.
***Method C ***
For tisanes that don't have a maximum brewing time limit and teas that may be infused multiple times in cooler than boiling water such as oolong, green, and white teas, this method is particularly good for those who want to reduce tea staining their teeth since the beverage will enter your mouth behind the teeth we see when you smile:
a. Measure tea into mug; you may want to use less than usual.
b. Add hot water, bombilla, and cap. Because tea will steep longer than usual, it's best that the water is 120-140°F. As in Method A, above, be sure to prevent coliform bacteria from developing during the first sixteen hours of storage at room temperature by heating water to a minimum of 175°F or higher, then letting it cool. Because of other types of bacteria, make it a rule to discard any brewed tea remaining after eight hours.
c. Let steep, then sip through your bombilla as desired.
d. Remove lid
and add more hot water, repeating as needed until leaves are spent.
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