Monday, February 02, 2009

The Fascination of Tea Infusers and Tea Flowers

I like to try different types of tea and collect tea accessories. Whenever I’ve written of tea and tea customs, I often received responses from readers who tell me about their favorite teas, tea time rituals and whether they collect items associated with tea making.

My daughter gave me a glass mug with tea infuser. I’d seen one of these…a glass tea pot with infuser when Jim and I had dinner with friends. But I hadn’t realized they came as individual tea makers.

Tea Flowers

The package also included a “tea flower” consisting of green tea scented with jasmine flowers. This made delicious tea, actually cup after cup to keep me going the whole afternoon.

In checking out information about tea flowers, I discovered they’re tea leaves hand sewn together in various bud shapes using different types of tea. When these flowers are steeped in hot water, they unfurl into attractive leafy arrangements. If you use glass tea pots or cups, you can watch the flowers take shape.

Tea Infusers

Tea infusers actually consist of almost any container that holds loose tea you can immerse in boiling water. Some of ehe more recent ones consist of glass or plastic inserts that fit into the glass, rather than metal. The one Beth gave me has small slits in the bottom for the water to seep through.

I’ve been experimenting with tea bags and loose tea, trying to decide what works best. I’ve enjoyed using some Earl Grey loose tea I had on hand.

Infuser Facts & Suggestions

In my research, I found a few facts about tea infusers.

*Infusers come in many sizes. Some fit tea pots and others are made for individual cups.
*Infusers are made in many materials.
*Infusers should be fairly large for your teapot or cup.
*To make good tea, the tea needs to have space to “swim” and the water to circulate.
*Tiny infusers made in novelty shapes will crowd your tea so the water doesn’t circulate through the tea leaves well.
*You should have at least twice as much space as utilized by a heaping teaspoon of dry loose tea leaves.

Now I wonder about those cute little tea infusers (sometimes called “tea balls”) I’ve been collecting. Some are no larger than a teaspoon of loose tea. One that I have is shaped like a teaspoon with a snap over top and will only hold a teaspoonful of tea.

Tea Time Accompaniments

CRANBERRY NUT BREAD - Grate rind of 1 orange and squeeze out all the juice into a measuring cup; add enough boiling water to make ¾ cup. Add the orange rind and 2 tablespoons butter, stirring to melt the butter.

Beat 1 egg in another bowl and gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating well. Add dry ingredients (2 cups white flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda), 1 cup chopped raw cranberries, ½ cup chopped walnuts, and the orange mixture; blend well.

Spoon into a greased, floured loaf pan or 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees for loaf pan and 30-40 minutes for other pan, or until bread tests done. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

©2007 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes from her multi-generational home in NH. )

1 comment:

Mary Q Contrarie said...

These Teas sound great. It would be great if everyone would learn how to dry flowers so that we can have more suggestions like yours.