Most of you are no doubt familiar with Western style tea-brewing, where tea is allowed to steep in a teapot, infuser, or teabag and then strained, and many of you are familiar with Gongfu brewing as well, with its shorter steep times and higher leaf-to-water ratios. Today I'd like to talk about "grandpa style" tea-brewing, which is easy, economical, and yields some very tasty tea when done well.
"Grandpa style" is, quite simply, using a tea flask (pictured), non-glass insulated container (like a Thermos or Hydroflask), or tall glass to both brew tea in and drink out of, which involves much longer steep times than Western or gongfu styles allow for. It's quite popular in China and some other Asian countries, and often practiced in North America and Europe as well.
The amount of tea used can of course vary with vessel size, so I'll tell you how I usually do it. The tea flask that I use is made from double-walled borosilicate glass, has a pop-out strainer in the top, and holds roughy 250ml of liquid, or just over 8 fl oz. I've found that 2.5g of tea is the ideal amount to use with most teas. What I'll do is put that amount in the bottom, fill up the flask with hot water, and start drinking it after a few minutes have gone by. The strainer in the top keeps the leaves out of my mouth. Then, when the flask is only about 1/4 full, I'll put more hot water in without dumping out the cooler tea in the bottom, which by now has a concentrated flavor. That's it, really. This is something that can be repeated several times, though I usually find myself stopping after 3 or so flasks' worth.
I live in Baltimore, MD and have done this on my drives to NYC. I'll fill it up as I'm leaving the house, drink it down most of the way, refill the tea with hot water from the S***bucks stand inside Delaware's travel plaza, then repeat the process again about halfway into New Jersey. By the time I get to NYC I'm generally well-hydrated, well-caffeinated, and looking for a restroom!
The plusses of using this method are 1) It doesn't take a lot of tea at all, 2) hot water is pretty easy to find, and 3) you get the full flavor out of your tea, and it's only overly bitter if you use too much.
The only downside is that you're not appreciating the subtle shifts of flavor that come from brewing successive quick steeps gongfu style, but that's not really the point of grandpa style anyway, which is just to brew tea simply, with less leaf, and get a full flavor from it.
Hope you'll get to enjoy brewing tea grandpa style this season! Please feel free to comment with your observations and experiences.