Clogged Strainer

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Noonie
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Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:33 am

Over years of use my stainless steel strainer that I sit on top of a cha hai has become clogged. Any tips on cleaning it to remove whatever oils and bits have built up over time?
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Victoria
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Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:37 am

I have success simply rubbing with a baking soda paste, followed with a quick vinegar wash (just don’t let it sit in vinegar), and hot water rinse. If you prefer you can also use a toothbrush with baking soda. Cleans right up.
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pedant
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Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:47 am

Use your judgement obviously, but if it's the kind of SS strainer I'm thinking of, I'd just throw it in the dishwasher.
Noonie
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Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:47 pm

Thanks
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debunix
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Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:21 pm

I toss mine in the dishwasher.
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Baisao
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:29 am

I suggest tossing it and not replacing it. With the possible exception of pu, the need for a strainer comes from poor technique and it affects the taste of tea (either by aeration or tea on metal, I don’t know which). I used one for several years until discovered it was doing me no favors.

But if you must, I would suggest as the other have and also add that something like a WaterPik might help clean it.
Noonie
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:15 am

I only use it for Pu (mainly Shou).
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debunix
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:52 am

Baisao wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:29 am
With the possible exception of pu, the need for a strainer comes from poor technique
That's a remarkably dogmatic statement and I strongly disagree. Many teas have small bits that will go through various teapot filters, lips of shiboridashi, and filters. You cannot wait indefinitely for the smaller bits to settle to the bottom of the brewing vessel when doing short infusions. And depending on the situation, leaving those bits in may be both a tactile issued detracting from the pleasure of a tea; a flavor issue, as too much leaf coming through can lead to a too-strong tea by the finish of a cup; or an etiquette issue, as guests may be put off by sputtering to remove some hard stemmy bits that one has drunk inadvertently.

I agree that not every time, not every tea, but feel no shame in the occasional use of a stainless steel strainer.
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Baisao
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:59 pm

debunix wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:52 am
Baisao wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:29 am
With the possible exception of pu, the need for a strainer comes from poor technique
That's a remarkably dogmatic statement and I strongly disagree. Many teas have small bits that will go through various teapot filters, lips of shiboridashi, and filters. You cannot wait indefinitely for the smaller bits to settle to the bottom of the brewing vessel when doing short infusions. And depending on the situation, leaving those bits in may be both a tactile issued detracting from the pleasure of a tea; a flavor issue, as too much leaf coming through can lead to a too-strong tea by the finish of a cup; or an etiquette issue, as guests may be put off by sputtering to remove some hard stemmy bits that one has drunk inadvertently.

I agree that not every time, not every tea, but feel no shame in the occasional use of a stainless steel strainer.
You’re right. I should have added exceptions for poor teapot design and overdelicate guests.

If you have enough leaf in your cup that it causes further steeping then you have a problem with technique, teapot design, or you’re brewing fines or pu.

There’s no shame in using a filter but recognize that it indicates upstream issues and that it alters the taste of tea.
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Balthazar
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:19 pm

I used a strainer early on, as it's what I saw the people I brewed with in China do. Gradually I stopped using it, mostly because I don't mind the occasional leaf in my cup and because the strainer became another thing to clean.

For those who use them, I recommend going with something like this (no idea what the material is, nylon?) rather than stainless steel (which I agree can add a taste to the brew):

Image

This guy's a bit dusty, having been stowed away the last few years.
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Baisao
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:31 pm

Back when I was beginning my tea journey there was a lot of talk about metals being bad for tea. I don’t see this talk much anymore and I am still not sure how accurate their thoughts were. Different materials definitely affect water texture so why not tea, I suppose. As I recall there were two theories regarding metal:

1) Something about how metal was antithetical to water (tea) in some Chinese cosmological sense (I don’t understand), so therefore metal should not contact the tea. This included internal metal strainers for clay teapots.

2) There was a thought that the iron in water from a tetsubin or clay was bad for tea because iron reacted detrimentally with catechins.

I only mention this for historical reasons and to demonstrate how popular opinions shift or even have unusual origins.

I don’t particularly agree/disagree with either but I have noticed that metal mesh strainer I used affected flavor. It’s still preferable to the wicker strainers I see some people use.
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debunix
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:51 pm

Iron is prized in the form of iron rich clays for pots and cast-iron tetsubins; why is the metal in a strainer to be feared for a few seconds contact with the tea?

Mine are all stainless to minimize their interactions with the tea; and they rarely come out but when I have a guest, or the fines at the end of a pouch of sencha or gyokuro are bothersome, they get some use; and they're used essentially all the time when I make sparkling tea (no built-in strainers in my carbonation bottles).
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Baisao
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:55 pm

debunix wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:51 pm
Iron is prized in the form of iron rich clays for pots and cast-iron tetsubins; why is the metal in a strainer to be feared for a few seconds contact with the tea?

Mine are all stainless to minimize their interactions with the tea; and they rarely come out but when I have a guest, or the fines at the end of a pouch of sencha or gyokuro are bothersome, they get some use; and they're used essentially all the time when I make sparkling tea (no built-in strainers in my carbonation bottles).
It definitely makes sense when making sparkling tea.

As for the iron/metal in the strainers, my opinion has been that it is aeration that is happening not some ion exchange between the metal and tea. It’s yet another tea thing we can detect but have limited information about.
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debunix
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Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:04 pm

Aeration, gotcha. Can't say that I've ever noticed it as a significant problem.
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