The first time I did laundry for myself was an adventure. After I washed my clothes, I smushed them in a huge ball, and literally stuffed them in a dryer so there wasn't even an inch of room left. When the dryer finished the cycle, the clothes on the outside were dry but the noes that were compressed in the middle we still sopping wet. The reason behind this was because there wasn’t enough hot air circulating to dry my clothes. Just like wet clothes, tea also needs circulation.
Circulation is crucial
Because teapots and tea cups are round, when you pour the water in to steep your tea it creates a very mini whirlpool. But more importantly than that, there is a lot of circulation happening on the molecular level. To get a mental picture, imagine your teapot is a crowded dance floor in the 1950's and the song "The Twist" comes on. All those dancers spinning around in a chaotic fashion are like the particles in tea. When the particles spin, they help to let the tea leaves open up so all the tasty goodness from inside the leaf can get out.
If the leaves stay compacted, you won't get the full flavor
If the tea leaves stay compacted, then the water will never be allowed to circulate around it. THis will mean that the leaves never release their full flavor.
To get full flavored tea, don't use anything that will restrict the circulation
This includes teaballs or any other contraption. The basic rule is if you need to bang your steeping utensils against the sink when you wash it, then the tea leaves are restricted. A better alternative to teaballs are disposable tea filters made for loose tea called T-Sac's. While they will still restrict your tea somewhat, it is much better than a tea ball.
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