Forget infusers and pre-bagged teas — tea sacks make a great alternative. Loose and free in the teapot can produce the best tasting tea, but even this tea lover knows there are times when that just isn’t practical. Thank goodness for innovative minds.
Many of you may be too young to remember “Sock it to me” from the 60s/70s show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” (Of course, you can always catch it in reruns on a cable/satellite station.) But “sacking it” to your tea has been around longer and is a great way to enjoy fine teas in a refined way.
So, what is this wonder of wonders, this marvel of the tea world? Generally, tea sacks are tea filters shaped like little sacks. Many are made of unbleached paper. They come in different sizes so you can steep from one cup to as much as 12 cups of tea at a time. One of the best brands on the market are “T-sacs” made by The T-Sac Company in Hannover, Germany.
The company has high standards to assure that their sack isn’t going to be something nasty coming between you and your tea. They start with cellulose and Manila fibers that are made into a light-weight paper. Since the late 1980s, they have been avoiding bleaching that paper, so you don’t get any chlorine in with your tea. (Great news for those of us hyper-sensitive to chlorine. Also great for those who don’t like their tea bleached.)
Some reasons to use a tea sack:
- Bagging your own tea (that is, filling a tea sack) means you know what is in the bag. Otherwise, it’s a guessing game. (I’ve had a few rude surprises.) Often, pre-bagged tea contains lesser quality teas “hidden” from your view by the bag.
- Tea sacks can be thrown away when you’re done. No muss, no fuss, and no infuser or strainer to wash. This gives you added convenience in an office or other work environment where you want to still be able to enjoy your fine teas. It also means you don’t have tea residue building up on your strainer or infuser and leeching into the next tea you steep. If you steep a black, then a white, then a green, this can really matter.
- In finer tearooms where they are becoming increasingly popular, these tea sacks save customers from the need to use a strainer. In one tearoom I dined at recently they used a small wooden stick to “hang” the bag inside the teapot.
A drawback or two:
- You don’t get the full-flavored steep that you do when the tea leaves are floating free in the pot. To me, this seems like a waste of tea dollars.
- They add cost to your tea experience. It’s minimal, so this isn’t a big deterrent. By the time you calculate what your time is worth, not to mention the cost of the dishwashing soap to clean the infuser or strainer, it all evens out.
Sounds like tea sacks are a real winner for those of you who value convenience yet want to enjoy full and broken leaf teas, not just teadust in a bag. Happy steeping!
Caution: In researching The T-sac Company, I came across two other sites with “t-sac” in the URL. Neither of these has anything to do with The T-sac Company.
Make sure to sock it to your tea life with A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!