Whether you're choosing a blend from them or another bulk option from the grocery store, the folks at Arbor Teas have a few recommendations for brewing loose-leaf tea:
-Use a large tea strainer (instead of a tea ball, like the one I was using until recently). You want to make sure the tea leaves have space to expand once the water is added, so that they can emit the most flavor possible. Here's the one I'm using in the photograph above. Chelsea at Arbor Teas said even a kitchen sieve will work - it's good to know that you don't need to have anything fancy, and that maybe something you already own will do the trick!
-Store loose-leaf teas in opaque, airtight containers. You can get away with clear containers, like glass jars, if the jars are consistently kept in a closed cabinet. I store my tea in a mismatched collection of jars in a kitchen cabinet - small jars with teas I just want to sample, larger jars full of my mainstays like rooibos. And, note that most tea remains fresh for about a year, so plan to use it up within that time.
-Brewing the loose-leaf tea can be as easy (or as complicated) as you'd like. Though it's not quite as easy as dunking a pre-filled teabag in hot water, I love the small ritual of pouring the leaves into the tea strainer. You'll use about one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea per cup of water for most teas. Green teas should steep for 2 - 3 minutes, black tea for 3 - 5, and herbal teas for 5 - 7. But, as long as you like the taste of what you're making, you can't really go wrong. You can find a more detailed guide to timing and measuring teas here, if you'd like to delve deeper.
-You can mix teas yourself. Love fruity green teas? Mix a more standard green tea with something like a fruity herbal tea. If you have some peppermint tea and some chamomile tea to use up but neither lights you up, mix them together and see what you think. Pull down some cinnamon sticks from your cabinet to warm up a normal black tea. Make teas as strong or as weak as you want. With loose-leaf tea, you can run the show in a way that you can't with pre-bagged tea. So, experiment!