What is a French Press?
A French Press is a simple kitchen tool for making small batches of tea or coffee. Typically, it is used to make personal-sized portions of coffee without a coffee maker or filter. In the same way, you can make tea with the French Press. I personally use mine for herbal tea.
Making Herbal Tea with a French Press
If you purchase ready-bagged tea, regular or herbal, you just need a teacup and hot water. We drink herbal tea blends like this in many flavors, and love them!
But, sometimes you want to make a tea that doesn’t come in bags. Or maybe you want to use more than a bag’s worth, without having to use multiple tea bags. That can get expensive!
Bulk Herbs for Tea Making
I like to buy some herbs in bulk, like stinging nettle for our seasonal allergies. I also like to use my own herbs that I grow, and, obviously, they will be loose-leaf herbs.
This week we harvested Holy Basil leaves, and so I’m making tea with those leaves.
You can make tea with practically any herb leaves or roots, depending on the plant. This opens up your world of tea making beyond just what you find in bags or pre-mixed blends.
Organic is always best, since you will be concentrating whatever is on the leaves in your tea. It’s better to not be ingesting harmful chemicals.
Various Methods of Making Tea
You can certainly make your teas in a saucepan, and I have done that many times for many years! You simply boil the water, add the loose tea, cover, then strain before you drink it. It works great!
You can also use a tea decanter ball, or reusable tea bags. These work well too, but can be a little messy afterwards. But, honestly, they are good for making loose leaf tea portably. We have a couple of the balls, and I find that it’s hard to keep all of the leaves inside of the squeeze kind, but they are more convenient to me than the balls, which always seem to slip down onto my hot tea!
The French Press is just another option for making loose leaf herbal tea. I find that for me, it makes it more simple and seems like less clean up afterwards, but whatever you do, there is something to clean up. Maybe I just like the all-in one system.
Before tea bags, people used to make tea and coffee as mentioned above, straining the leaves or ground out before serving in tea or coffee pots.
I wish we used teapots more these days!! My mom and Grandma both had/have sweet collections of beautiful teapots.
When so Special about a French Press
The idea behind the French Press is to make your tea/coffee in the same pot as you serve it in. But you still have to use a separate pot to boil the water–GO FIGURE!
In addition to the a French Press, and quite similar, is a thing as an Infusion Tea Pot, that you can use directly on the stovetop! It actually has a container that you put herbs into, inside the teapot! I think I just found the PERFECT solution for an all-in-one system! That’s pretty cool! I’d never heard of this before, while doing research on the French press!
Also—your herbs (or coffee, if that’s what you’re making) get retained inside the press, allowing more flavor to infuse into your tea, making it stronger. Much like a tea bag in your teacup, but without using tea bags.
I had an interest in a French Press to make my Stinging Nettle Tea, which I end up making quite a lot in the Spring and Fall. Now our middle son is making regular batches to combat his allergies. See my article on Stinging Nettle, Nature’s Anti-Histamine for more information about that.
Finding my French Press
I ran across a small French Press recently at a thrift store and I grabbed it up. For me, the small size is perfect to make a little for now and some for later. But I have seen some giant presses that hold like two liters!
Using your French Press
Using it is simple. Much like making tea or coffee, with the added feature of the plunger to squeeze out the leaves/grounds at the bottom of the glass container. You then pour your tea directly from the French press!
Here’s the process for making Loose Leaf Tea in your French Press:
- Obtain fresh or dried herbs. Organic is best. Home grown is a bonus!
- Boil your good quality water. Filtered or distilled are good. Hard water can sometimes make it hard to infuse the tea, so you may need a few more herbs.
- Add herbs–usually 1 Tbsp dried herbs per cup or double to triple for fresh, but it all depends on the strength to you like. For therapeutic nettle tea, we use 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water.
- Add cover of French press, but don’t press yet!
- Steep herbal tea for at least 15 minutes, covered, with handle up
- Squeeze tea leaves/herbs with the plunger to the bottom of the press.
- Test tea by pouring out thru strainer in the lid.
- If not strong enough, simply steep for longer.
- If done, pour thru strainer spout after tamping down on handle to press flavor from herbs.
- Sweeten as desired with honey or stevia. I prefer stevia.
That’s not so difficult is it?
It’s actually kind of fun! Of course my boys like to plunge the liquid and herbs frequently, but they’re teens. Don’t let small children play with the hot tea–it can easily splash or spill. Ask me how I know that!!
I hope you enjoy your tea, however you decide to make it!
I also hope you try out a French Press if you decide to, or if you come across one!
You can purchase the same brand French press I use, which is the Bodum, made in Brazil, at Amazon.com. You can also occasionally find one in a second-hand store (aka Thrift Store). Hey–I did! Read about that here: Seven Secrets I Learned at the Thrift Store
Now go have a Tea Party!