Learn to Steep: Grandpa Style

Grandpa style of tea steeping is one of the easiest methods, and also the least immersed in a sense of ceremony – a fantastic point that makes it truly accessible for basically everyone… provided your tea can hold up to the method. One could consider the grandpa style of steeping tea to be one of the purest methods of tea steeping, because it really doesn’t require you to do a lot. And if you’ve been drinking tea for a while, you may have already done this method of tea steeping and didn’t even realize it had any sort of name. I’ve definitely steeped my tea this way before and experienced tea steeped this way for literally decades, thanks to going out for weekend dimsum growing up.

Arguably the easiest way to make tea, grandpa style is also the simplest. In a large cup, add some tea leaves (preferably whole leaf tea), add water, and drink. No infusers, not strainers, no methods of pouring the tea out into another vessel within 15-30 seconds. When your cup is running low, you top up the water and then continue to drink. This method of tea steeping works the best for whole leaf tea because you have the best chance of not swallowing the leaves if they’re full and intact versus the dusty tea bits that come out of a tea bag. You could also use a tea pot, add some leaves, and pour in water and keep refilling the pot whenever it gets low in volume.

While you could use this steeping method with any tea, grandpa style of tea steeping really lends itself well with whole leaf teas, particularly those without flavourings or blended ingredients, and also ideally works the best for teas such as pu’erh, oolongs, green and white teas (basically, most Chinese teas will work great with this method, as has been my experience when in restaurants). My preference when doing the grandpa style is to drink oolongs or white tea (silver needle never lets me down), and I actually utilized this steeping method a lot when I was most recently in school again (2019-2021), because it’s really the laziest steeping method that ever did exist and just fit well with my study method. I could study, drink tea, and not have to fuss about it too much.

“Grandpa style” tea steeping is a phrase coined by Lawrence Zhang (marshaln), which very closely mimics the style of tea steeping that I’ve seen my parents do at home basically all of my life. The tea leaves get left in the strainer in the tea pot at home. The tea leaves get left in the tea pot at the dimsum restaurant. It’s very much the Chinese way of steeping tea, and something that I find myself gravitating towards when not steeping a blended tea or a tea for a review (because I like to follow the steeping instructions).

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