Methods of tea preparation
There a many different ways to prepare tea for its final destination of your cup. Some methods are simple and others become an involved process. Depending on how much time you want to dedicate to tea preparation and personal preferences one method may be better than another.
First, the standard tea bag. This is a simple drop into a mug of hot water and wait. Often the tea that comes in tea bags is lesser quality compared to specialty teas and steeping the bag along with the tea itself may distort the flavor. However, the convenience of a quick brew and standard portion of tea in a bag is a big plus. Tea bags come in many varieties nowadays, from paper teabags to silk pyramid bags.
Another simple way to prepare tea is by dropping the loose tea straight into the water free and uncontained. This likely creates a situation in which one would have to drink the leaves while or dodge them while drinking. Depending on the shape of the tea leaves, they may sink to the bottom of the cup while steeping and cause little trouble while drinking. Dropping the tea freely into the cup also helps the leaves fully expand while steeping to release the full range of their flavor.
When using loose tea, a mug or teapot with an infuser is a good choice. Infusers are separate containers to hold the loose tea and place into the mug or teapot, although there are some teapots with infusers built into the vessel. The infuser is the same idea as the tea bag, but refillable with your own loose tea.
Tea can also be prepared without hot water, through a cold brew in the refrigerator, or sun tea in the sunlight. Both of these methods take much longer, but are good when making big batches of iced tea. Having the tea sit in a glass pitcher of water in sun all day for sun tea is a good starting point. For cold brew, sticking a pitcher of water with the tea in it in the refrigerator overnight is the simplest way to do it. Both of these methods also help prevent the tea from developing an astringent flavor, which can result from steeping too long in hot water.
These are a few of the ways to prepare tea that I have had experience with. There are several others that I would like to explore and share. More to come soon!