Jun 1, 2010

Blog Carnival on Daily Life Tea Drinking - Teabags and Loose Leaf Tea

This is part of the 2nd Blog Carnival of ATB (Association of Tea Bloggers)! A full index of contents for this blog carnival can be found at The Sip Tip.

I've had probably fewer than 30 teabags in my entire life, with at least half of them made at home in the past months. I started doing this first because I am very frugal and don't want to throw away tea debris at the bottom of each tea container. Secondly, there are days that I am too tired to even lift my fingers. Although I never think brewing loose leaf tea very energy consuming (to me, so much easier than brewing coffee!), there are days that I just want to do as little as possible. That's how I made my first teabag. And I logged it on Steepster. Before that, I was gifted some homemade teabags by tea farmers and tea merchants. (For example, this one.) They are all great. No commercial product can compare with them. There are higher end, even whole-leaf teabag products in the market nowadays. Although they are good, in my eyes they can't compare with homemade ones because only the homemade ones, made by the tea drinkers (or their friends), are tuned to each tea drinker's particular taste. And, of course, homemade teabags are the most economic ones, while many good, especially whole-leaf teabags in the market have very high per-unit prices.

To make your own teabags, you will need heat-sealable teabags and a heat sealer. I got my teabags from a seller in Thailand by searching "tea bag heat seal" on eaby :D If you don't have a heat sealer, then probably foldable teabags are the most convenient. The foldable teabag was invented in Taiwan. It's very convenient to use. The way to fold it is pretty much like how you can fold a pair of socks when putting them away. It looks like this:
But I don't know yet where to get more of them. The website indicated in the photo doesn't exist!

The other day, I was SHOCKED by someone's response when I walked into an office holding a glass of tea. The secretary of the office stared at my glass in disbelief and asked what it was. (Did she think it was weed?) When I told her it was green tea, she said "eww..." and frowned. And she had this facial expression which I would interpret as being scared or even disgusted. Maybe as a tea drinker I am too sensitive. But I was convinced by her expression that she was thinking that I was drinking something lousy. I know tea is not new to this office. They serve coffee and assorted teabags all the time in their kitchen, and they are quite familiar with teabags. I've seen all kinds of responses to loose leaf tea. People may think it's novel, mysterious, strange, impossible to deal with, hard to drink, so on and so forth. But, this was probably the first time I've seen somebody subtly indicating loose leaf tea as inferior to teabags. Maybe this lady has a thing about loose leaves and it's not about the tea at all. But, I can't help thinking, is it possible that some people deal with teabags all the time and never see naked tea leaves? When something is "never heard of" and strange, people may just intuitively think it's awful. After this small incident, I've decided to carry my loose leaf tea drink as much as possible to public places, and, in a transparent vessel (including this, this, this and this) when possible. I guess if people are more exposed to it, loose leaf tea won't look like some shocking scene.


Alex Zorach said...

There is one sustainability issue / problem with (some) heat-sealable teabags. Many of them use a type of plastic, which makes them not fully biodegradable / compostable. This is something to watch for if you are concerned with these things.

I'd recommend looking into the ingredients for a heat-sealable teabag before using them!

I occasionally use paper tea filters which are open at the top...and I don't seal them. Occasionally the leaf falls out, but I've found that more often than not it works fine.

Gingko said...

That's a very good point, Alex. I have never seen a bio-degradable heat-sealable teabag. I am very interested in the foldable type of teabag and will try to get some later. Some of those ones are made with materials that's supposed to degrade in soil in a year or so.