Using a french press for tea

Ever make tea in a french press? Try putting the tea leaves on top of the strainer instead of below.

It works great for teas you want to infuse for a limited time (that is, most types of true tea.)

If you put the tea below the strainer (as you would with coffee grounds) you have to pour out all the tea when your infusion time is up. That’s kind of annoying if you’re making a pot of tea for one.

By putting the tea on top of the strainer, you can simply lift the tea leaves out of the water when it’s infused to your liking. You don’t have to pour all the tea out of the french press to avoid over-infusing your tea.

Allow me to illustrate:

Start with a clean french press.

empty french press Using a french press for tea

Measure how many cups your french press holds before you start so you know how much tea to add. This guy holds about four.

Insert the strainer attachment and put the appropriate amount of loose tea on top.

dry tea french press Using a french press for tea

Either add the tea to the strainer insert and then put the whole thing in the french press, or put the strainer in first and then add the tea, whichever you find easier.

Push the plunger down almost as far as it goes, then add the hot water of your desired temperature. Make sure you leave some space at the top of the press. Either lift the lid of the press with one hand and pour the water with the other, or, if you have room, you can just pour the water in the spout of the french press without lifting the lid.

add water french press Using a french press for tea

I’m using water at about 75C (about 170F) for this tea.

The nice thing about using a french press is you can watch your tea as it infuses. Here’s a gratuitous tea shot.

tea shot french press 2 Using a french press for tea

This green tea is called jade sword. I think the long leaves are very photogenic.

After your infusion has finished (about 2 minutes in my case), simply raise the plunger to lift the tea out of the hot water and halt the infusion process.

lift tea french press Using a french press for tea

The tea lifts out very cleanly.

raised tea french press Using a french press for tea

Tea leaves are preserved for more infusions.

When you pour the tea you have a couple of options. You can lift out the whole strainer, transfer the leaves to another vessel, then replace it and drink the tea at your leisure. Personally, I’m lazy and don’t mind the odd stray leaf in my tea, so I just leave the strainer in place at the top of the press and carefully pour the tea through the tea leaves. Very few leaves pour into the cup.

pour tea french press Using a french press for tea

Pouring the tea slowly means fewer leaves in the cup.

poured tea french press Using a french press for tea

For me, this is a very nicely brewed cup of tea.

Because the leaves are lifted out of the tea, the only thing you have to worry about in terms of how fast you finish the pot of tea is temperature. When you’re ready for a second infusion, just lower the plunger again and add more water.

second infusion french press Using a french press for tea

The second infusion of jade sword. I actually prefer the second infusion because I can’t tolerate much caffeine.

That’s it! It’s pretty straightforward, but I see people making tea in a french press pretty regularly and I haven’t seen anyone else do it this way. If you try this method out, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Hi! I blog about food and health for Supplement SOS. I like green vegetables, long walks on the beach and triple-blind placebo-controlled intervention studies with large sample sizes. Liked this post? Follow on Google+, Twitter or via RSS or email me!.

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11 comments on “Using a french press for tea
  1. E says:

    What a great idea! I never thought to put the tea on top of the strainer. I’m going to try this today. Thanks!

  2. Katja says:

    I brew tea in a French press, but the other way around: put tea leaves in the container, add boiling water, wait while it steeps, then push the plunger down most of the way and pour out the tea. The strainer keeps the tea leaves from getting into your cup.

    • Joseph says:

      Yea I agree with Katja, it would be much easier to put the tea leaves in first and then use the strainer to keep the leaves out of the tea.

      • Lena Zegher says:

        That method is definitely easier, but the strainer doesn’t do a good enough job keeping the leaves away from the water to stop the tea over-infusing. For some teas, this doesn’t matter that much, but I find over-infused green tea pretty unpleasant, so I came up with this method.

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  5. Alexandru says:

    The idea of putting the leafs on top came to me yesterday, today i tried and it’s better. I drink only one type of tea, black tea, but i have a problem cleaning it, like this, i clean it much easier. Just checked on internet if somebody else was doing it too :D, cause first time i saw this type of tea pot i was shown to use it otherwise.

  6. Kate says:

    Thank you. I think I’m going to try this tomorrow at work. I dislike having to clean the still-wet tea leaves out of the French press, and maybe this will help with that.

    At home, I clean the leaves out of the press by adding some water, swishing it around, and throwing the mixture out onto the lawn. But no way to do that at work.

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