Tea is the perfect breakfast beverage to help you get the day going. Afternoon tea is also a lovely ritual – with or without scones! And a lovely herbal tea such as lavender or chamomile in the evening can help you relax and sleep well.
Tea bags are a handy invention, but loose–leaf tea is the real deal. It is far more flavorful and you have more control over the brewing process.
What happens, though, if you find yourself craving a cup of tea, but, for whatever reason, you have no tea strainer, infuser, or tea ball? Maybe you misplaced it or you are traveling or camping.
Here are seven ways to brew fresh loose-leaf tea when you don’t have a strainer or infuser to hand.
1. The Traditional Method
This popular method of brewing tea in China is centuries-old. It is performed with something called a Gaiwan. A Gaiwan is essentially a large ceramic teapot with a wide top. If you don’t happen to own a Gaiwan, you can still follow this method.
Brew the tea in a mug as you normally would with hot water. Once brewed, use a small plate to block the leaves – bigger leaves work best – and pour your drink into a serving glass or cup.
You might be interested in our explainer on how much tea goes in a tea ball.
2. The Cheesecloth Method
Place in a mug or cup and place the loose-leaf tea in the filter. Then pour hot water over the tea and allow it to brew. Once brewed, remove the filter with the leaves inside and you’re left with a delicious cup of freshly brewed tea.
3. The Kitchen Roll Method
A similar method to the previous one involves a good old kitchen roll. Simply take a piece of kitchen roll, preferably good quality, and fold it twice into a square. Fold out one pocket and place it in a mug or cup.
Place the loose-leaf tea in the kitchen roll, pour over hot water, and leave to brew. Just like the coffee filter method, remove the paper once brewed and enjoy your cup of fresh tea.
4. The Sieve Method
Most people have some kind of sieve in their kitchen. You could use a kitchen sieve (the smaller the better) or even a slotted spoon, as long as the holes aren’t too big for the tea leaves. A fork can be used to carefully push the leaves back.
5. The Makeshift Infuser Method
Another option for preparing loose-leaf tea is to create your own makeshift metallic infuser with a small sheet of tin foil. Cut out a square of tin foil around 25cm x 25cm. Fold it twice into a small square. Using a sharp-pointed knife, twist holes into the closed corner.
Fold out one pocket and place it into a mug. Add the loose tea, pour in hot water, and allow to brew. You might want to give it a stir halfway through. Remove the tin foil infuser and enjoy.
6. The Double Cup Method
The double-cup method is fairly straightforward. You need two mugs and a cup.
Use one mug to pour in the loose leaf and hot water. Once brewed, make sure your other mug is clean and ready to use.
Place the cup partially in the mug as you pour the tea into the clean mug. The cup will act as a barrier to stop the loose leaf from transferring into the mug. This method can be a little bit messy, so you may want to practice over a sink first. Also, be careful not to burn yourself.
7. The French Press Method
Who knew that a coffee-making device could double as an infuser? Before starting this method, make sure the French press is nice and clean to avoid any lingering coffee taste in your tea.
Take out the metal plunger and drop your loose tea into the beaker. Pour in the hot water and allow to brew. Once brewed, put the plunger in the beaker and press down as you would when brewing coffee. Then simply pour into a mug or cup to enjoy some fresh tea.
The Final Word: How To Make Loose Leaf Tea Without A Strainer
If you find yourself craving a cup of tea, but you have loose-leaf tea and no strainer, fear not! These methods will allow you to successfully prepare all types of tea using utensils you likely have close by, or more creative methods if not.
And, of course, any hot tea can also become iced tea by letting it cool down and adding ice cubes, along with a little sweetener if you so desire.