Chinese Tea Jars

The tea jar is as ubiquitous in China as the travel mug is in the US.  The jar is typically available in polycarbonate, stainless steel, or glass, and includes a sealed cap and a removable filter screen.

The idea is simple.  Add tea.  Add hot water. Put the screen in place.  Cap it. Wait.

When the tea is ready, remove the cap and enjoy.  The screen keeps the tea in the jar and away from your mouth.  When needed, add more hot water for a second or third infusion.  When finished, dump the used leaves and rinse out the jar.

According to that plan, the jars work well and are certainly convenient, easy to hold, and attractive.

Is there a down side?  Frankly, yes.  At least for some people.  The problem occurs because the leaves stay in the tea, and many teas become bitter if infused too long. So, unless a person likes to drink very hot tea very quickly, one’s choice of teas is limited to teas that can stand long infusion times without becoming bitter.  This pretty much limits the choices to some Chinese blacks and greens, puerhs, and herbal blends. It pretty much rules out most Indian and Sri Lankan teas.  However, since I have by no means tried all possibilities, I welcome feedback on other teas that readers have tried successfully in long infusions.

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Highland Blend

Highland Blend is a custom blend of Chinese and Indian teas offered at

The dry tea has the look of a typical English Breakfast blend, but the similarity fades once the tea is brewed.  The aroma is earthy, like a good puerh, but not overwhelming.  The liquid tea is a deep golden brown.  The first taste is distinctly Keemun, and a really good keemun at that.  The flavor is full, very smooth and tannic, like well aged Highland single malt Scotch. The finish is very much Ceylon or South India, bright and astringent, but not so much as to cause a severe case of dry mouth! There is nothing fruity or floral about this tea.  This is pure Camellia Sinensis showing off.  A strongly flavorful tea,  ideal for a morning wake up call, but also a fine finish to a great steak dinner.

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t-sac tea filter review

The convenience of a teabag with you own favorite tea inside. Sounds like a great idea. Is it?

The t-sac tea filter is a light weight bag made from unbleached filter paper. It comes in a range of sizes from single serving size 1 to large teapot size 4, and a special size 5 designed for tall carafes with a relatively narrow opening. Three unique features add to the ease of use.

First, one side of the bag is longer by an inch or so than the other side, making for easier opening and acting as a funnel while filling the bag. I’ve seen this funnel idea in use both with the long flap under the spoon to catch and guide tea into the bag; and on top to cover the spoon and prevent large leaf tea from spilling over the top of the bag. The long flap also can be folded over the edge of a cup or mug, or trapped under the lid of a teapot, to keep the bag closed and upright while infusing, thus avoiding spillage of tea leaves.

Second, the bottom of the bag is gusseted which significantly increases the space available within the bag for expansion of the tea leaves, and, once filled, allows the bag to stand upright.

Third, the bags can be easily sealed. They can be closed with heat using a bag sealer, or a clothes iron, usually on cotton setting, NO steam! Thus making your own teabags, especially for traveling, is a simple matter. We’ve also heard staples, and even a sewing machine (with white cotton thread) used. Whatever works!

Since we have had t-sac’s, along with various reusable infusers, available for quite a while, we can summarize our experience on when the t-sac’s are most likely to be the preferred choice. The greatest convenience comes from the ease of cleanup. Simply remove the bag and discard. If you garden, discard then in you composter! The tea leaves and bag both compost well. This ease of clean up causes us to prefer the t-sac when cleaning up loose tea leaves may be more difficult, ie: while traveling, or at the office. They are also more convenient when you need to prepare a number of tea servings ahead of time.

In our own kitchen, we will more often use a permanent filter (Chatsford teapot, cotton sock, or Finum Teeli basket) since clean up is quite easy when in a kitchen.

The final BIG question is what about the quality of the tea made in a t-sac? Personally, I’ve never noticed any off flavor as the result of using a t-sac. I’ve talked with a few people who claimed they could identify the taste of the filter paper on a very light green or white tea, but I don’t detect it. (PET PEEVE ALERT) Personally, the worst thing a person can do is charge $2.00 for a cup of tea and serve it in a PAPER CUP. (Are you listening Mr. Starbucks?) No matter how good, or bad, the tea is, it only tastes like a paper cup! (END OF PET PEEVE).

One caution from the manufacturer, and its well worth remembering; don’t over fill the t-sac. Tea leaves expand while infusing, even up to double the volume. Make sure the t-sac is large enough to allow for free expansion, or the tea will not infuse properly. This may mean using a size larger than recommended based on the serving size. This is particularly necessary with whole leave teas and herbal infusions.

All in all, while we haven’t used t-sac’s exclusively in our experience, we can certainly recommend them and will always have them available to use with confidence as needed.

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Chatsford Teapots

The Chatsford teapot system was originally designed and patented by The London Teapot Company. Their unique method of incorporating a large nylon mesh infuser within the Chatsford teapot continues to make the Chatsford one of the best teapots for preparing loose leaf teas. The fine mesh works equally well with whole leaf or finely cut (CTC) teas. Originally produced in England, the London Teapot Company currently manufactures their product in Thailand.  Chatsford teapots are in available in five colors and four sizes, 2, 4, 6, and 10 cup sizes. The 10 cup size only comes in white, brown, or cream.

If you are looking for a workhorse teapot that can be used every day with every kind of tea, A Chatsford teapot will not disappoint.  The infusers are large enough to handle even the largest whole leaf tea and the mesh is fine enough to contain broken or cut teas.  They are also easy to empty and rinse out, as long as the tea is still wet.  (tip:  If you forgot to empty it yesterday, soak it in a glass of water for a while, then empty it.)

Our only regret is that Chatsford teapots aren’t available in more and brighter colors.  We still miss Pristine Pottery with their 23 beautiful colors!

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Royal Patrician Closed

Bad news for lovers of English made china teaware!  US importer Royal Patrician closed as of May 8th.  We still have some inventory left on the four patterns we carry.  If you’ve been thinking about buying or adding to a tea service, don’t delay.  We expect to the line to be gone by year end.

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TE3017 Welsh Morning

Welsh Morning is fundamentally an English Breakfast blend. Expect a cup with good body and a mix of Ceylon brightness with Assam maltiness. This blend is heavier on the malty side than typical packaged English Breakfast blends, though not as much as an Irish Breakfast tea. The quality of the underlying components definitely shines through, taking this blend to a level above the typical English Breakfast blend.   Welsh Morning tea takes milk well and sugar if you must. Take care to limit the infusion time or it will get bitter. If you want it stronger, use more tea, not more time. Welsh Morning is a consistently reliable tea.

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