The French press is a kitchen staple for many people across the world.
Designed, naturally, in France, the French press went fairly unnoticed until it was patented in Italy during the 1920s. A surprisingly simple device, it is made of just two parts, including a lid and beaker.
In a lot of cases, the beaker is made from glass so you can see the fruits of your brew. Traditionally, a French press is used to make coffee – but they work just as well with tea, both in bag and loose form!
Below is a quick guide to using a French press for your tea needs.
What is a French press?
Legend has it that, back in the 1850s, a Frenchman was preparing a pot of coffee over an open fire when he realised he’d forgotten to put the coffee in. Once he added the coffee grounds they remained on the surface of the boiling pot, inspiring him to place a metal screen over his pot and press it down using a stick. The result revolutionised not just the way we brew coffee, but tea.
This design was patented initially in 1852 by Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge, though at this stage it was much simpler than what it would become. A later patent, made by Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929, closer resembles what we commonly use today.
Still, the French press wasn’t perfected there. The most popular patent came in 1958 from Faliero Bondanini, a Swiss man. Known in France as a ‘Chambord,’ the device would be marketed in the UK as ‘La Cafetière Classic.’ Danish company Bodum later became a distributor of the Chambord in Denmark and eventually bought the rights to the name and factory.
Today, the French press is not so new-fangled as it is commonplace. It is a recognised piece of equipment seen in many kitchens, a stalwart in a world of short-lived technological fads.
What’s the difference between a coffee press and tea press?
Both tea and coffee presses operate the same, but there a few things that distinguish them. For example, tea presses tend to come in a circular shape. Tea presses also have a filter in the centre as opposed to coffee presses, which have a filter on the plunger.
To make tea using a tea press, place your tea into the metal filter, pour in boiling water, leave to steep for two to six minutes, then use the plunger to push the tea to the bottom of the filter with no holes. Et voila!
What’s the difference between a French press and tea infuser?
Shouldn’t you just use a tea infuser? It’s an option.
Tea infusers are designed to hold the tea leaves, therefore letting the flavour develop during the brewing process. When this is done, remove the infuser and that’s it. You won’t have to filter the tea, nor strain it. Furthermore, you won’t risk having bits of loose tea in your cup.
Tea infusers allow you to steep a single cup of tea by putting the infuser straight into your cup. However, you have to do so using boiling water. You can also add dry tea leaves into the infuser and putting them in your teapot.
Tea infusers are usually made from stainless steel or metal (or occasionally silicon.) As for the most popular type, the ball infuser takes the top spot, thanks to its ability to make individual cups of tea.
What ratio of tea and water do you need for a French press?
In terms of tea to water ratio, for every 8 ounces of water in a French press, add 1 and a half teaspoons of loose leaf tea for your brew.
If you’ve added too much it’s fine. Simply pour all the excess tea into another vessel to prevent over steeping and save it for tomorrow!
Can you cold brew in a French press?
When it comes to cold brewing loose leaf tea, not only is it possible, but it’s one of the best ways of bringing out true flavour. It’s the scorching water that creates the bitterness and tanic tone you sometimes experience when drinking tea. Tea brewed in cold water is by contrast refreshing and smooth.
Okay, but what if I don’t have any loose leaf tea? Or my preference are teabags? Worry not. They work just as well!
Fill your French press with cold water and add as many as teabags as cups you intend to serve. Place the French press in the refrigerator for around six to eight hours and that’s it! You’re ready to go.
Of course, your own personal preferences are not to be ignored here. If your cold brew tastes good on the fifth hour, by all means, pour yourself a mug! Likewise, if it doesn’t taste good on the eighth hour, brew for it or a little longer.
Can you use tea bags for a French press?
So you’ve got your French press but you’re out of loose tea. Can tea bags work as a substitute? Absolutely!
Don’t go overboard. One teabag will be enough if you’re making just the one cup of tea. Simply multiply the number for each cup of tea you plan on making. When it comes to loose tea, one teaspoon of leaves and one cup of hot water is all you’ll need.
How long do you brew tea in a French press?
The French press looks like a pretty complex piece of equipment. Surely the process of brewing takes a long time? Not quite.
The length of brewing in a French press depends on the type of tea you’re using and your own preferences when it comes to strength. Lighter teas such as white or green should be brewed from 2 to 3 minutes. Darker teas such as black tea should be brewed between 2 and 5 minutes.