We were at Ikea the other weekend, and I happened to notice that the blue and yellow gargantuan now labels their “Upphetta” cafetières as both a coffee and a tea press.
I’d been curious about how well a French press actually deals with tea for a while. Of particular interest was the possibility of doing away with the large tea filter bags I’d been using when brewing up Western style – the plunger’s built-in filter would take care of that – and at the same time giving the leaves more room to circulate. This is another drawback with the filter bags – no matter how large they are in comparison to the steeping vessel, as the tea leaves expand as they take on water they quickly run out of room in a filter bag.
The smaller, 400 ml version of this press only cost 59 Swedish Crowns, so into the trolley it went, along with a small table, a chest of drawers, and 6 pack of glass tumblers.
This size of press is just about perfect for Western style infusion for 1 or 2 persons, with 2 to 3 grams being an ideal amount of leaf. The tea being steeped in the above picture, for example, is a Keemun, about 2.5 grams’ worth, and was steeped using boiling water for 1½ minutes.
I’ve had my best results by pushing the plunger only a short way down when the tea has infused for the correct time, and then decanting the tea liquor into a suitably sized, warmed up vessel. I tend to use the bottom part of my Sama Doyo E-01 teapot for this, with the lid from another pot sat on top to retain aroma and heat. This method does result in another thing to clean up afterwards, but also avoids having the finished tea still being in contact with the leaves trapped in the base of the press, and oversteeping.
As you can no doubt imagine this method works best with larger, whole leaf, but I’ve also had equally good results with much finer teas, such as a Turkish Rize.
I was considering buying another Sama Doyo pot for when we are out travelling, but now I’m starting to think that a French press would make a just as good, significantly cheaper, “no big deal if it gets lost or broken” alternative.
All in all a successful experiment, then, and a good result all round.