Is It Too Much Work to Brew Looseleaf Tea?

Apr 11, 2008 by

Or why Tea Party Girl knows more than the ‘O’ Magazine’s editors.


I continue to be amazed how often I hear people tell me brewing looseleaf tea is too much work. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me in an age of microwave popcorn, baby carrots, and tubes of minced garlic. But just like most of our products grown from the earth, when we let technology take out the prep work, the quality diminishes.

And while The Tea Spot receives high marks for a fancy website and an ‘O’ recommendation, may I encourage my readers that you do NOT need an automatic teapot to brew your tea. First, it only holds 20-ounces, scarcely three cups of tea. This is barely enough for one serious tea drinker, much less two. Secondly, the only step in the tea-brewing process it claims to take care of for you is removing the tea leaves at the proper time. So in other words, for $69.95 you can own an expensive, fancy timer. Which, I might add, won’t even work for green tea despite their claims, as most green teas are recommended to be brewed for two minutes and the automatic tea pot is set at a three-minute minimum.

Now yes, the teapot will take the leaves out of the water for you if you happen to be brewing tea while making your bed, curling your hair, sweeping the front porch, or whatever other multi-tasking you find necessary during brewing time. But as many wise tea lovers have stated, if you are too busy to wait the few minutes for the tea to brew, life is too busy and you’re the one needing to slow down and drink tea the most!

Granted, learning to brew looseleaf tea takes a little time. You may make a couple mistakes and have to ask a few questions. But may I encourage you that it is worth it! If you have any skills at all in the kitchen (Do you use knives? Pour milk in your cereal bowl? Know which buttons to push on the microwave?) you can brew looseleaf tea. It will cost you less and I guarantee, please you more.

Won’t you give it a try? And instead of spending $69.95 on the automatic teapot, treat a friend and support your local tearoom. Even this amount of money can purchase one afternoon tea for the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel in New York City; unfortunately, you will need to pass on the lobster, black truffle, caviar and a chocolate pot de creme.

If you need a primer on looseleaf brewing, be sure to read my article “The Beginner’s Quick and Simple Guide to Brewing Looseleaf Tea“. Or feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

Fellow tea brewers, do you agree with my assessment of the automatic teapot? Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree that the $69.95 could be better spent!

    I set my oven timer for the appropriate brewing time, continue with my preparations for the day, and return to the kitchen to remove the tea leaves. If you live in a two story house, an kitchen timer or stopwatch you take with you as you get ready would work.

    But on other days I can stay in the kitchen and peruse a magazine while the tea brews in my sweet little teapot–and find better ways to spend the $69.95!

    Sometimes progress is good; but remaining “old-fashioned” about some things helps us keep balanced.

  2. sherry

    What is so difficult about setting a timer and subsequently removing tea leaves?

  3. Carina

    I absolutely agree with you, Jenny! Brewing loose leaf tea is certainly not difficult nor is an automatic brewer necessary. Even my 8 year old son can brew a perfect pot of tea for us! He does everything from measuring the water into our electric kettle, measuring the tea leaves into a tea pot, steeping the tea and then straining it into cups for us. He is so proud of his skill, that he often asks throughout the day if he can make a pot of tea for me and my husband!

  4. Teapriestess D

    I have a Sundream Tea drop which in essence is an automatic tea maker. It holds 28 oz of tea which is more than enough for me and has 5 different brewing settings which I have found is perfect for more the delicate white and green teas. I only paid $20 which is about what I would have paid for a tea kettle. Even with letting the Teadrop do the steeping and brewing for me still slows me down and makes me take my time as I pour the brewed tea into my warmed personal pot. Added bonus for me is that I don’t have to worry about drinking cold tea because my toddler has blown out the candle under my tea warmer or taking off my tea cozy to put his latest collections in.
    Not a perfect solution since I love the ritual of preparing the loose leaves etc. but it will have to do for now.

  5. There is no way I would invest that much money in an automatic tea pot. I use an inexpensive stainless steel whistling tea kettle to heat the water in. When it whistles, I take it off the burner, and measure in my loose leaf tea, set the timer, and then set a tea strainer of a tea pot, and pour the tea from the kettle in to the teapot. The wait time is great chat time. What’s all the fuss about? πŸ™‚

  6. Kim in ID

    I agree with you, Tea Party Girl! I didn’t look at the automatic pot you are talking about, but it takes me about 10 seconds to put my loose tea in my tea ball, pour in boiling water, and set my timer. Then I go do something else until it’s ready. Of course, I still make popcorn in an air popper and melt my own butter for said popcorn and I always chop up my own fresh garlic.

    Part of the beauty of tea is pouring it from a pretty pot to a pretty cup and hearing the hot liquid transfer from one to the other.


  7. Jessie from CA

    I’m must be exactly that kind of girl that is too busy to sit by the teapot to time the leaf removal just right. Even with a timer…I’m busy working, or cleaning, or gardening, which all involve multi-tasking, and inevitably… I mess up my brews far too often. The price of not ruining my good loose tea is more than worth the price of the pot. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the tip! πŸ˜‰

    ps. don’t you find that tea balls crush the leaves & don’t allow them to unfurl??!

  8. Kim

    I’m with you – I usually drink green or white tea, and they take about 3 minutes to brew – it’s actually quicker than a tea bag and much more civilized. I don’t need an automatic tea pot when I have my little teapot and the huge in-mug brew strainer. I like to mix it up with my teas, so I usually brew a cup at a time, anyway.

  9. Jessie from CA

    yes, i looooove me some greens & whites!! that’s usually how I brew mine too – one mug at a time, using a porcelain tea strainer. have a god one!

  10. Jessie from CA

    i meant a *good* one =)

  11. Annabelle

    I can definitely see the point about the teapot! I checked out their website and they have some nice mugs and cups…I also always brew one cup at a time because I can *never* get through a whole pot (even smaller than 20 oz!) without it getting cold before I am finished. Less is more for me!!

  12. I bought this teapot on the O-list – and it’s beautiful!! 20 oz is a good size for me and my boyfriend to share 2 cups each (5-6 oz?) of tea… and it’s so nice to just set the timer and make a perfect pot every time. Maybe $70 is an indulgence for a teapot, but for something that i use to make our tea every day, like my Capresso kettle or this Steepware teapot, I feel it’s a great investment for people living an active lifestyle. πŸ™‚

  13. Alice

    I grew up in England where making and drinking tea is part of life. There’s no need for such a tea pot – what a waste of money. All that is needed is some good quality loose tea, a teapot, perhaps a strainer to catch those odd leaves that don’t fall to the bottom of the teapot…to remember to pour freshly boiled water on to the leaves and leave it to brew for your required strength. The idea that you’d buy such an expensive tea pot is frankly ridiculous! Why you could spend this money on good quality tea!!!

  14. Sally

    I also bought this beautiful teapot as soon as I saw it on the O-List. $70 is nothing compared to the many expensive teas I’ve ruined by oversteeping! I certainly don’t have time to babysit my teapot in the mornings when I am trying to get my three children ready for school, and myself off to work. I highly recommend this teapot to anyone with a busy schedule and a love of looseleaf tea.

  15. Great articles & Nice a site….

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