It is Monday morning and I have not had tea yet. I have limited time and limited resources. I sit at my desk wondering, to bag or not to bag? This is a practical question. As quality tea consumption increases in popularity, the general opinion of the lowly carton of Lipton tea bags often found in workplaces decreases.
On the one hand, anyone can plainly see the larger, higher quality leaves selected for loose-leaf teas and taste the difference that it makes in the cup. This is a compelling reason to brew tea with fresh water at the right temperature, the right steep time and the right teapot.
On the other hand, expediency is a factor that cannot be ignored. How often have you taken a nondescript tea bag and unceremoniously plopped it into a mug of microwaved water? It is still tea after all, even if it is less flavorful.
It is in the face of this quandary that I suggest finding your own creative middle ground. Sure, I want tea that tastes good but what other single cup tea brewing options are there for my desk.
My friend Shiami places two or three tea pearls in her cup and adds hot water to make Jasmine Pearl tea. This is also called “Grandpa Style” by @TeaFanatic. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Except, I do not like to sip while there are floaters in my tea. I admit, I am not a purist.
There are tea bags that you fill with your choice of tea. This is a great compromise. Paper for tea filters is made of an abaca and cellulose fiber blend. Some may wonder if a paper tea bag imparts flavor? It is not as neutral as a glass teapot, but not pervasive enough to require a pre-rinse like a coffee filter, although you could do that (if you had the time). Less mess and easy disposal are big benefits of this method.
As posted previously, organic cotton muslin cloth can be sewn to make a tea bag. It is food-safe, durable, reusable, and can be found with no chemicals or dyes. This is a waste free option, especially convenient if you always use the same type of tea. It takes careful rinsing though in order for today’s Silver Needle tea to not taste like yesterday’s Pu-erh. This may not be the option for me…
If you have time to get crafty, you can make your own custom loose-leaf tea bags out of your coworkers’ coffee filters. However, if you have enough time to locate filters, scissors, staples and string you could have just made a nice pot of Earl Grey tea to share…
Another option for a quick cuppa involves using a French press. While French press coffee is known for a coating of sludge at the bottom of every cup, it does a nice job steeping a clean cup of tea. Consider the smaller single serve models to avoid over-steeping as the tealeaves sit in the bottom of the press.
Why not a tea ball or tea infuser? Sure, these are the traditional options, but a tea ball does not allow the tea to expand and the tea infuser with fine mesh doesn’t allow the water to circulate well enough according to TeaNerd.com. When you are pressed for time and space and need tea at your desk right now, does that matter? It’s up to you, we won’t judge!
After letting my thoughts steep on these various methods I opted for a pack of 100 Finum Tea Filters. Tea bags get a bad rap, but if you use your own “wrap” you can ensure quality tea. If you have thoughts on these, or other ideas for quick and easy ways to brew a single cup of tea, please share in the comments. In the end, it all boils down to personal taste.
+Samantha Joyce is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee and tea. Her current favorite tea is any cup that someone else will make for her.