How to brew loose leaf tea without all the teaware

We love the ritual of steeping loose leaf tea: the boiling of the water, the measuring of tea leaves, the still, silent, serene, patience that comes with enjoying the tea over multiple infusions. It’s a sublime experience—but one that’s, admittedly, not easy to replicate outside the kitchen.

And, if you’re in an office setting or anywhere else without the proper teaware, it can pose quite a challenge. However, like many things in life, if there’s a will...there’s a way. We’ve compiled a list of creative get-arounds on how to brew loose leaf tea, sans much of the usually needed supplies.

Without a Gaiwan

Use a small cup, about the size of an English teacup, with a big empty tea bag or a brew basket. Have a small cup or a plate nearby so that you can rebrew your tea multiple times.

Loose leaf pu'er is best enjoyed with higher leaf to water ratio and shorter steeping times. This also means that if you use your favorite gigantic mug, you will need that much more loose leaf to avoid over-steeping your tea that extracts bitterness.  

Aim for the size of a gaiwan, so roughly 4 fluid-ounces.

Without a Kettle

Get the hottest water possible! You might have a hot water dispenser in the office, but, odds are, you have a microwave somewhere in there. Also, if you feel as if the hot water coming from the dispenser isn’t hot enough, don’t be afraid to pop it in the microwave for 30-second intervals. (Every hot water dispenser is different, and the poured water temperatures might differ from each.)

For pu'er, you want the water to be as close to the boiling temperature as possible. If this is not the case, you can extend your brewing time than what is recommended to compensate.

Without a Scale

This is where you can break-out your spatial reasoning skills, in lieu of a scale.

We recommend 3 grams of pu'er per session...but just exactly how much is 3 grams? Well, this really depends on a litany of factors, from the tea itself to how tightly it’s packed. But, generally speaking, 3 grams of tea measures-out about a tablespoon-and-a-half. Don’t have a measuring spoon around? Two tablespoons of loose-leaf tea will occupy about a third of your palm when placed in the middle.

Other teaware needs, such as tea tray and serving pitcher are nice to have for a proper tea session. But you can at least get your loose-leaf brewing without fancy teaware. For our detailed brewing guide on how to brew the perfect cup, with the said supplies, click here.