Different Ways of Making Tea Around the World
Brewing tea and tisane in a single teapot or in a double tea kettle? Compare the two methods below and choose the best one to make the perfect tea!
Drinking tea is believed to have begun in Asia, either in Yunnan for medicinal purposes or in Sichuan as a stimulating drink. Both of these cities are located in today’s China. There is written evidence that tea has been drunk since the 2nd century BC, even though it is known that it must have been drunk much earlier than that.
Western Europeans and Russians were introduced to tea during the 16th century, and tea has become a widespread stimulating drink in Europe since then. Surprisingly, the Turks, today’s leader in tea consumption per capita, were among the last people introduced to tea. They started to drink it in the late 18th century as their popular stimulating drink, coffee, became more and more expensive in the Ottoman region.
Tea Brewing Methods
As the tea-drinking habit had passed from East Asia to Europe and Russia, so did the tea-brewing methods. The people of East Asia have mostly brewed their tea in a single teapot by adding hot water over tea leaves. Western Europeans adapted this brewing method to their tea culture and made tea at home as such. Today the British, the Irish, and other tea lovers in the western world mostly brew their tea using only one teapot.
On the other hand, Russians started to use “samovar”, a dual system to make tea, sometime after they were introduced to tea. We do not know why they did not continue with the Chinese method of brewing tea in a single teapot. However, it is believed that the people in Russian territory loved tea a lot and wanted to consume it in larger amounts at one brew. Therefore, they developed samovar either by adapting the “sbitennik” they had already been using to make “sbiten”, or by getting inspired by the Chinese “hogo”. This dual tea brewing method found its way to Iran and Anatolia later on.
Today there are two main methods of brewing tea in the world. In one of them, tea is brewed using only one teapot, and in the second one, tea is brewed using a dual teapot or kettle system. Of course, there are some sub-methods under these two categories. Still, we will concentrate on the main methods to see their differences and their effects on the tea experience. Single teapot brewing is mainly used in western Europe, North America, Eastern Asia, and Australia, whereas dual brewing is used in Iran, Russia, and Turkey.
Now we will see how you can make tea using these two methods.
How to make tea in a single teapot
To make tea in a single teapot, you need either a teapot or a kettle. A French press can also be used for this purpose. In this brewing method, we put the tea leaves into the teapot and then pour hot water on it. We close the lid to prevent losing heat and wait for 3 to 5 minutes for tea leaves to release their aroma into the water. Then, we pour the infusion into a cup and enjoy our tea!
Since this method has no heating source during brewing, the infusion loses its heat as you wait for tea leaves to release their flavor. So, to limit heat loss, it is important to warm up the teapot before putting tea leaves in it by rinsing it with hot water. The material from which the teapot is made is also important to keep the heat. You can see the details about the teapots made with different materials in our related blog by clicking on this link.
The tea leaves used in this method should be quick in releasing their flavor into the water. If you need to wait more than 5 minutes for tea leaves to release their flavor, then the infusion will have lost too much heat, and the pleasure of drinking tea will ruin.
A real-life experience as the last point to mention about this method is that there is always a bitterness in the taste when I make tea with this method. I have yet to figure out the exact reason for this phenomenon so far. It could be either the nature of the tea leaves releasing flavor quickly or the low temperature of the infusion. Whatever the reason, there is one thing certain: that bitter taste really spoils my tea pleasure.
How to make tea in a double tea kettle
Before talking about how to make tea in a double teapot or kettle, we should first explain what we mean by the word “double”. When we say double teapot, we mean “samovar” or “çaydanlık” type of brewing tool, which is a kettle at the bottom and a teapot stacked upon it. If the kettle at the bottom has its own heat source, it is called “samovar”. If it needs an extra heat source such as a stove or open fire, then it is called “çaydanlık”. However, nowadays, both “samovar” and “çaydanlık” have versions that use electricity as their own heat source, so technically, there is no difference between them other than the fact that samovars have larger boiling capacity than electric tea kettles.
“Samovar” is a word of Russian origin but is also used in English, and “çaydanlık”, on the other hand, is Turkish. The best translation of “Çaydanlık” into English is tea kettle, but single tea kettles mostly come to mind when tea kettle is told. So, we will use “double tea kettle” while referring to “çaydanlık”. In addition, we will name the pot at the bottom as “kettle” and at the top as “teapot”.
To brew tea in a double tea kettle, we first boil water in the kettle at the bottom. Once the water boils, we add tea leaves to the teapot at the top and add boiling water over it accordingly. Then, we add more water to the kettle at the bottom if needed. After that, we put the bottom kettle back on the stove and the teapot on top of it. We wait for the tea leaves to infuse their flavor into the water for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of tea we are making. The boiling water in the bottom kettle continuously gives off heat, so the infusion in the teapot does not become cold, even in a long brewing process.
Which method is best to brew tea?
Both methods use steeping as the brewing method. However, the infusion starts to lose heat from the first moment of steeping in single teapot brewing. In contrast, there is continuous heating in double tea kettle brewing thanks to the boiling water below. This continuous heating provides two benefits during brewing.
Firstly, tea leaves can more effectively release their flavor into the water in double tea kettle brewing since steeping happens at a constant temperature provided by continuous heating. On the other hand, the temperature of infusion decreases during the steeping in single teapot brewing since there is no heat source.
Secondly, steeping for longer minutes is possible in double tea kettle brewing since there is no heat loss. In single teapot brewing, on the other hand, you have to stop steeping in about 5 minutes. Otherwise, the infusion becomes too cold to drink tea pleasantly. Tea leaves stop releasing flavor in colder temperatures, so it does not make sense to continue steeping after 5 minutes as well. Therefore, double tea kettle brewing yields more flavorful tea since tea leaves have more time to release all their flavor thanks to longer steeping.
In addition to these two benefits during the brewing phase, a double tea kettle also offers warm tea for longer periods. When you make tea in a single teapot, you need to drink it quickly because it gets cold very soon. However, you can spread the pleasure of drinking tea into much longer hours in a double tea kettle since it can keep the tea warm as long as you want. In any case, you should drink it for up to 3 hours as the infusion gets stale after that.
Double tea kettle brewing is the way the people in Anatolia have made tea for centuries. They are at the top of the tea-consumption-per-capita list in the world. They must know how to make perfect tea since they consume so much. We should give this new method a try to enjoy more flavorful tea, warm for longer periods. Making tea in a double tea kettle may become a new way of adding tea to our lives, a very pleasant one.