Tea accessories can almost be as fun as the tea itself. Having everything you need to enjoy your next cup of floral tea can make teatime even more enjoyable. Also, by creating a ritual around teatime, you are reserving a space for yourself to just relax and enjoy your healing cup of tea. Each of these kitchen must-haves for tea lovers are a great way to add to any tea ritual.
We’ll share tea accessories from the famous gongfu tea ceremony, high-tech tea gadgets, and even advice on picking the best teacups and teapot. Whether you’ve been a tea lover for as long as you can remember or are just now getting into the world of tea, we hope these 11 items will help improve your next cup of tea.
1. Temperature-controlled kettle
If you read our piece on 5 steps to the perfect cup of tea, you’ll know that temperature plays a big role in making your cup of tea just right. If you’re still boiling your water on the stove, that’s totally fine too, but with a temperature-controlled high-tech kettle like this one the water will stop boiling exactly when it reaches the right temperature. This means no more waiting by the stove for your water to get to the exact degree you need it to be. Plus, your taste buds will thank you when your tea is brewed to absolute perfection.
2. Tea Timer
Another important part of making a great cup of flower tea, or any tea for that matter, is brewing it for the right amount of time. A tea timer is a great kitchen gadget for any tea lover because it helps you get the right brewing time every time. Like wine, most teas contain tannins, a chemical compound that gives teas some of its color and bitterness. The longer your tea brews, the more tannins will release. If you’ve ever drinken a cup of green or black tea after it has brewed for too long, you’ll know it’ll get so bitter it almost makes your lips pucker.
Tannins can actually be both good and bad for you. They are responsible for the high antioxidant content in black and green teas. They also fight against certain bacteria and harmful microbes. But tannins can also hinder digestion and slow down your metabolism. So just like anything tannins are best enjoyed in moderation. (1)
3. Bamboo Tea Tongs
Traditionally used in the gongfu tea ceremony, bamboo tea tongs are a must-have for those who love indulging in the incredible history behind tea. During the ceremony the bamboo tea tongs were used to pick up the teacups. Traditional Chinese tea cups didn’t have handles, so it was more hygenic to pick up the cups with the tongs rather than your hands.
With whole flower teas, bamboo tea tongs are great for keeping your flower completely submerged underwater while it steeps. Since the flower will float to the top of the water as it brews, some sort of utensil is needed to keep it underwater. We suggest bamboo because the material is light, strong, and sustainable. Plus, it symbolizes longevity, and, according to the tenets of Feng Shui, brings luck and prosperity to the home. If you’re not used to brewing your tea by hand, this interactive tea ritual is actually the perfect excuse to take some time to relax. You might even use the time to do a little deep breathing or a short meditation.
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4. Brewing basket or tea filter
If you want to see what it’s like enjoying tea outside of the tea bag, a brewing basket or tea filter is something every tea lover’s kitchen should have. Unlike tea bags, when you steep floral tea or loose-leaf tea, it has room to expand as it infuses. This not only lets the leaves better absorb the water, but it also releases more flavor, vitamins, minerals, and aromas.
Basically, you want to give your tea as much room as possible to do its thing. Tight enclosures like tea bags and tea balls aren’t the best choice to get the most out of your tea. If you already have tea bags or tea balls, just make sure you’re not filling them up too much. They definitely still do their job, but by only filling them ⅓ of the way up, you’ll get more use out of every batch of tea.
Bigger filters like brewing baskets, do a better job because they’re deep and wide and give the tea plenty of room. You can also brew your tea straight into a teapot or tea pitcher and then use a tea filter or tea strainer as you pour it into your teacup. We have a soft spot for these Bodhi leaf tea strainers because they’re all natural and easy to clean. They’re made of real leaves from the Bodhi tree.
For whole flower teas, you don’t have to worry about straining and can just steep your flower in any wide brim container you have. You can use your bamboo tea tongs to remove the flower when you’re ready to enjoy your tea—or even leave it in there while you drink!
Any tea lover needs a good set of teacups. There are so many to choose from, but porcelain, clay, ceramic and glass cups usually make great teacups. We just suggest staying away from plastic and stainless steel cups. In the Chinese gongfu tea tradition there are two main types of teacups.
There are Pinming teacups, which are much smaller, shallower, and thinner than other teacups. This is because the tea is meant to be savored and enjoyed sip by sip. If you can believe it, slurping your tea is considered good manners because it shows you’re really taking in all of the flavor!
The other type of teacup is called the aroma tea cup and it is only used to take in the fragrance of the tea. If you watched the gongfu tea video, you might have noticed that he poured the tea into one cup and then poured it out of that cup and then into another. The first cup is just used to smell the aroma of the tea. While this is usually reserved for traditional ceremonies and tea aficionados, if you love enjoying every aspect of the tea, you can totally get an aroma tea cup of your own!
6. Water filter
Most tea sommeliers will say that good tea starts with good water. It can be easy to focus all your energy on finding the best herbal tea and forget about the water. But just how cleaner, mineralized water tastes better, cleaner, mineralized tea will also taste better. Investing in a good water filter that cleans out any viruses, bacteria, toxins, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides, will improve any cup of tea.
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7. Teapot/Tea pitcher
If you’re a one-and-done tea drinker, you might just need a good kettle and a teacup, but if you enjoy entertaining or having a few cups of tea at a time, a good teapot will definitely come in handy. Like we mentioned earlier, teapots and tea pitchers both offer a lot of space for your tea to steep, which helps brew a more well-rounded tea.
Just like tea cups there are a lot of different types of teapots. Each teapot has its own unique set of benefits and are loved by their owners for either their design, function, or both. Ceramic tea pots are known for their heat-retention properties while glass tea pots are known for being non-porous and for their beauty.
Tea is pretty sensitive to the elements. If you get it wet before you steep it or expose it to too much sunlight, it can go bad. A tea storage box is a wonderful way to keep your tea safe from the outside world. You can use any airtight container, but there are also a lot of beautiful tea storage boxes that make a great statement piece in any tea lover’s kitchen.
If you’re starting to get more experimental with your tea, you might love to try cold brew tea. Just like cold brew coffee, the tea brews in cold water for about 6-12 hours. Cold brew tea tends to have a more delicate flavor and there is even evidence that it has greater antioxidant content. Cold brew tea bottles are also great for taking on the go and could be the perfect drink for a picnic with friends. (2)
10. Tea pet
A tea pet, sometimes known as a tea lover’s pet, is a small clay or wooden figure that is said to bring tea drinkers good luck and companionship. Typically, tea pets are placed on the tea tray and given a little tea and water while you prepare your tea. It might sound silly, but it can be fun to “take care” of your tea pet by giving it some tea during teatime. (3)
You won’t usually give your tea pet any of your tea, but rather warm water you used to warm up your teacups and teapots or any left over tea. Some tea also requires rinsing, so you can also give your tea pet the hot water you used to rinse your tea.
Tea pets can be found in a lot of different shapes and sizes. They are commonly molded into Chinese zodiac animals, mythical creatures like dragons, and even people. You might notice that your tea pet changes slightly overtime in color as you give them some tea. Some tea pets even have little holes in them that blow bubbles as they absorb the tea. In fact, one of the most popular models of a tea pet is actually called “pee-pee boy.” Not very romantic, but when it is showered in cold water and then hot water, it actually shoots water it previously absorbed as if it is peeing. But I think we prefer this little frog that shoots water out of its mouth or these adorable little pigs ready to drink up your tea.
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11. Tea tray
Traditionally, tea trays were used to show off beautiful teas and teaware. They also were used to catch any extra water that was discarded in the process of brewing. Since most people these days can usually pour any extra water down the sink or into their houseplants, a tea tray can be a great tea accessory when you have guests over. A beautiful tea tray isn’t something any guest will forget. But if you plan to walk around with your tea tray, you might consider a non-slip tea tray instead of a traditional wooden tray.
Whether you were looking for gift inspiration for your favorite tea lover or looking to add to your own tea lover’s collection, we hope you enjoyed this list of kitchen must-haves for every tea lover, whether it’s whole flower tea, herbal tea, green tea, or something else entirely!