fresh berry tea in French press on the table

Coffee snobs claim that the best coffee is made in a French press. Because the grounds steep in the water rather than filtering through it, they say it brings out the bean's richness, and a metal filter rather than paper doesn’t affect the coffee’s taste. Tea drinkers might think that a French press isn’t for them, but the same principles that produce a rich, flavorful cup of coffee are equally effective with tea.

It’s totally possible to make loose tea in a coffee maker. Using a French press to brew tea also means that the leaves’ taste won’t be affected by a mesh or silk bag. Next time you can’t find your tea ball or diffuser, reach for your French press. You won't be disappointed.

Preparing your French press to brew tea

Unless you’re eager to try a gross hybrid of tea and coffee, clean your French press thoroughly before using it to brew tea. Disassemble the lid, plunger, and filter and wash them in hot water. Get nit-picky with the filter, making sure there aren’t any coffee grounds still stuck in it.

When washing out the carafe, use hot water and dish soap meant to cut through grease and oil. Coffee can leave a film on the glass even after it’s been washed. Once all the parts are thoroughly dry, you’re ready to make French press tea.

Making French press tea

Use a rough ratio of 1 teaspoon to every 6 ounces of boiling water when measuring your loose-leaf tea into the carafe. You may have to play around with the amount of tea leaves. Leaf size and volume (big chunks of herbs) will make a difference in taste. Plus, there’s personal preference and how strong you like your tea.

The water’s temperature depends on the type of tea you’re brewing. For green tea, heat water to between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch for columns of steam rising from the water. Water for herbal teas needs to be hotter, about 180 to 200 degrees. It’ll be steaming and close to a full boil, with large bubbles forming in the water and smaller bubbles on its surface. To get the most flavor out of black and red teas, heat the water to 190 to 200 and 190 to 210 degrees, respectively.

Just like making coffee, pour the water into the French press and put the lid on top to hold in the heat. Set a timer and steep green tea for two and a half to three and a half minutes, herbal tea for five to 15 minutes, and black or red tea for three to four minutes. Steeping time makes a big difference in the cup’s taste, so steep according to the color you like.

When your tea is done steeping, depress the plunger to push the leaves to the beaker’s bottom. After that, just pour out a cuppa and add milk or sugar if you’d like. The elderly British woman who solves murder mysteries is optional.

Making French press cocktails

Now that you've expanded your thinking beyond coffee, how about trying French press cocktails? Put the cocktail muddle in the carafe’s bottom, pour liquor over the top, and let it steep. When it’s time to push down the plunger, it will mix all the ingredients while slightly aerating them. The result? A flavorful infusion that would have impressed a 1920s flapper.

French press tea or French press cocktails have a unique depth to their flavor. Once you’ve taken your first sip, you might never pull out a diffuser or cocktail shaker again, no matter who is visiting.