Teacoutrement

Teapot with strainer

In my opinion, the best tea pots come with strainers, or infusers, that fit down inside the pot.  I never buy teapots that don’t come with strainers. Zero of Japan makes excellent pots with strainers, but any cup-shaped filter can be used down in a pot.  

Tea strainer

A cup-shaped tea strainer that fits down in a cup or pot is the easiest way to steep loose leaves.  Tea balls should be avoided, as the leaves need space to open completely to best release their flavor. Finum makes some of my favorite strainers.

Air-tight containers

Tea has four enemies:  light, heat, air and moisture.  To store tea properly, it should be kept in an opaque, airtight container or bag. It should stay fresh for up to two years when properly stored.

Timer

Any kitchen timer can be used as a tea timer, although digital is the simplest to use.  Or one can purchase a specific digital tea timer that comes with setting buttons for each type of tea.

Yixing teapots

These are small teapots made of unglazed stoneware from purple clay that originates fromYixing, China.  They are best used to steep oolong teas and are used as part of the Gongfu tea ceremony.

Cast-Iron Teapots

Teapots made in China or Japan of a heavy iron that is enamel-coated on the inside and keeps tea hot for a longer period of time than any other material.

Gaiwan

Mandarin for “covered cup.” A porcelain tea cup with a saucer and lid used traditionally for steeping Chinese black and oolong teas. Great for steeping any unstrained tea.

Gongfu set

This is the tray and utensils used for steeping tea in the Chinese gongfu cha (or kungfu cha) tea ceremony, which means “making tea with efforts.”    

The proper accoutrement (accessories) for tea, or what my friend Kevin Johnson dubbed “teacoutrement,” is indispensable to steeping tea correctly and to creating an enjoyable tea time.  One can collect a variety of teacoutrement from traditions around the world and use different tools depending on the type of tea you are steeping.  Below is a list of my favourite teacoutrement that every tea lover might want to own: