Our loose Da Hong Pao Oolong is the perfect large-leaf tea to let float in a cup, filter-free.
Did you know that the invention of the tea bag was an accident? It's true. Tea bags, as we currently know them, were created around 1903 by a tea merchant named Thomas Sullivan in New York. Sullivan was just looking for a simple way to ship his tea to consumers, so he placed loose tea in small bags, thinking that tea drinkers would remove the tea from those little bags before brewing. Instead, people just found it easier to pop the porous bags into hot water, using them as a makeshift filter.
Those tea drinkers were on to something — preparing tea from a tea bag is really convenient ... so much so that decades later people who wanted high quality, whole leaf tea with all the convenience of a teabag created tetrahedron-shaped sachets (before you Google that, we'll tell you that it's just a fancy word for a three-dimensional pyramid). These sachets, just like ours, can be filled with whole leaf tea and give those large leaves more room to expand when steeped in hot water, resulting in a fuller, more nuanced cuppa'.
But we have a quick question for you: Are you interested ditching the tea bags and the tea sachets and having a true cup of loose tea? Plenty of tea lovers swear by loose tea, and claim that it's the only way to get the most flavor out of the tea leaves. We don't disagree with that — although perhaps your palate won't detect a difference one way or another — but we must admit, there's a bit of an intimidation factor with loose tea leaves: so many uncertainties about how much tea to use, how many accessories are needed for brewing, how much time to let the leaves steep, if the whole affair is going to leave a big drippy mess on your counter tops ... and on and on.
So we're going to give you a solid piece of advice about loose tea: It doesn't have to be that difficult! For starters, if all you have is a nice pile of loose tea, hot water and a mug, why not just pour the hot water over those leaves and let the leaves steep in the bottom of your cup while you continue to drink it? This is a popular way to drink tea in China, and works best with the largest tea leaves. Some of the leaves will continue to float in your mug until they're fully saturated, so just blow them away when you're about to take a sip, and eventually they'll sink. And here's the fun part — discovering how the flavor of that tea changes as you continue to re-steep the leaves. Which of the washes do you like the most? The second, when the tea may be slightly astringent, or the fourth, when it might become smooth and extremely subtle? Watching the leaves expand is also fascinating, and depending on what tea you've chosen to steep, you might find your cup full of the in-tact "two leaves and a bud" of tea that we named our company after.
Forget about the fancy accoutrement of loose tea — you don't have to invest in any (scales, filter baskets, a tea pot), until you're ready to. Try using one teaspoon of loose tea per mug, and then up that accordingly, if your taste buds want to punch it up. Then, when you're really addicted to loose tea, there are about a million different little accessories out there to delight you ... travel mugs, French presses (just like coffee!), fancy contraptions, and all that.
For now, free the tea!