Brewing method: The French Press

ImageThis is easily one of my favourite methods to make a cup of tea. Unlike tea balls which often compress teas leaves, the french press allows full expansion of the leaves, and full immersion into the water, which is favourable for a pretentious tea drinker such as myself. Tea leaf expansion is important because without it, the leaves don’t release their full flavours or chemicals.

Today I am brewing a cup of green tea, and the particular tea is best suited around 84°C. Different teas demand different temperatures, and the kettle I have allows me to pick what temperature I want down to the degree. The other popular brand for a kettle like this is a Breville, which I use when I’m working at the shop, but I much prefer mine, as the Breville kettle only has pre-programmed temperatures, and I am a lot more obsessive than that. I kid you not when I say I have spent a couple of weeks trying to decide whether 72°C or 73°C was better suited for a particular matcha powder. What’s that you say? You aren’t an obsessive crazy like I am? Well, that’s okay, too because I’m going to do a post in the future about a method of cheating your way into the good temperatures for tea without one of those, so be on the lookout for that if you aren’t willing to drop a $100 or so on a nice kettle. I mean, I would suggest you do anyway, but again, I’m an obsessive crazy.

Now that the temperature is appropriate for the type of tea you are steeping, what you will want to do is warm your french press. Fill it a half to a third full of water, then leave it for about thirty seconds. Water temperature is very important, and even if you have a variable temperature kettle, if you pour the water into a cold french press, it will throw off the steeping, even to the point of 5°C, which is a big deal especially in delicate teas.

Instead of throwing the water down the sink, pour the warming water from the french press into the mug. Exact temperature isn’t necessary in mug warming, but it means that you can enjoy  a hot cup of tea for a longer time

ImageImageNow it’s time to add your leaves. Again, the obsessive part in me is going to suggest you invest in something. A scale. Different leaves have different weights, and again, we are aiming for precision tea steeping. Or I am, at least. As a rule of thumb, you can usually get a pretty good cup of tea, no matter the leaf (with the exception of oolongs, but more on that at a later date) with two or three grams of leaves per 250ml of water. Add your leaves to the french press, then pour water over them right to the top. Put the lid on, and adjust the “press” part of the French press so it is all the way at the top as well.

Image

Set a timer! I steeped these leaves for four minutes, but packaging will usually have a recommended steeping time. If you have a tea you are particularly fond of, feel free to play around with the steeping time and proportion.

Once the tea is steeped for the proper amount of time, press the pole down on the French press, and pour into your cup.      

ImageIn summary

1. Bring water to appropriate temperature

2. Warm French press and mug

3. Empty leaves into press

4. Pour water over leaves

5. Let steep for appropriate time

6. Press the press, pour, and enjoy!

Some final notes: Specially designed tea presses are made, but I haven’t found many advantages to them over French presses. From what I have noticed, they tend to function identically to French presses, but are less accessible, and often more expensive. One final note, don’t brew coffee and tea in the same french press. No matter the amount of scrubbing, flavours can linger.

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4 thoughts on “Brewing method: The French Press

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to the Gaiwan | Church of Tea

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