Teatime is best with no strings attached, especially to my teabag. Nothing is more irritating to this tea lover who lives the “tea life” than those strings and tags on some teabags.
Something about that dangling thing hanging over the side of a mug smacks of low-brow Hollywood tea portrayals. It sets a teatime atmosphere reminiscent of an off-off-off-route diner where you’re sitting in a dark corner booth on cracked vinyl and the fluorescent light bulb in the fixture over your head is flickering. (The “Tea Princess” in me is coming out again.)
Not all teabags with strings and tags are created equal, though. Some, like Mighty Leaf where there is not only a string and tag but big pieces of tea and other stuff in the bag itself, are exceptions. The issue is more towards the lower grade stuff. You see it in the dollar stores, grocery stores, a bad episode of The Twilight Zone, etc. Sometimes the bags are the flo-thru design, and other times they’re flat. Sometimes the string is stapled to the bag, and other times it’s glued on. Great, we get to choose between a metallic or an adhesive taste in our tea. Not to mention the taste of the hemp material the bag is made from.
A brief time-out here to be fair.
There is a practical side to these strings and tags. They can facilitate steeping by giving you an easy way to “bounce” the bag up and down in the water. They also make possible removing your teabag from the mug (essential to prevent oversteeping) without scalding your fingers when you don’t have a spoon handy. Another use is more commercial; restaurants like having the tea name on the tag of each bag, since that can sometimes be the only identifier (especially good when they’re serving some of the higher grade bagged teas — they like their customers knowing this).
Enough of being fair.
Tea in a bag is bad enough, without having to deal with that thing that has practically come to symbolize “Yuck!” when it comes to bagged teas. Wisely, some of the better brands of bagged teas have avoided the string and tag. Prime examples are PG Tips’ pyramid bag, Barry’s and Devonshire Tea’s flat rectangular bags, and Typhoo’s flat round bags. (Devonshire has a version of bag with a string and tag, but my personal experience is with the non-encumbered bag type.) Sure, you have to have something to remove the bag from the mug, but the taste of these teas is worth toting a spoon, maybe a pair of sugar tongs, or even a pair of tweezers around with you to accomplish this. A small price to pay!
For those of you who prefer your tea bagged, choose carefully. A simple hemp bag with no strings attached can work best. You certainly have plenty of choices. Just be sure that bag is filled with good quality tea, not low grade tea dust.
Time to cut loose and have some tea. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!