“Bagged tea is low quality.” “Tea in bags is the worst.” “Tea bags are disgusting. I wouldn’t drink the bilge steeped from them.” You’ve heard such statements, I’m sure, from the “tea snobs” among us. I have said such things myself. Tea is bagged to meet customer demand. People want the convenience, and I can’t blame them. The good news is that not all bagged teas are created equal, and so you can get a great cuppa from a tea bag. Let me show you 5 ways to make the most of your bagged tea.
1 Buy the best quality bagged tea you can afford. A little research will be needed here. My recommendations are:
- Harney & Sons — My top pick for quality bagged tea. Only the best goes in ’em so only the best taste is in your teacup or mug.
- Devonshire Tea — They personally sourced the right tea gardens in Kenya to supply the tea that goes in their bags. It’s fine ground to steep up fast and strong.
- Mighty Leaf — Often whole leaf pieces and, if flavored, pieces of real “stuff,” not flavoring oils.
- Tea Forté — A bit pricey due to overly fancy packaging, but each of those cute pyramid-shaped teabags is filled with high-quality tea. (Their Earl Grey is the best I’ve tasted.)
2 Steep the tea loose, not in the bag. Cut the bag open and dump the tea dust or leaf pieces loose into the steeping vessel (teapot, teacup, mug, etc.). I do this regularly with teas that I like but that can only buy locally in bagged form:
3 Use them as your travel or at work tea. Convenience is a must when traveling or at work; in those situations it can be tricky to steep tea loose, despite the myriad of steeping mugs out there. So, keep some high quality tea bags handy. That way you won’t have to settle for the dreaded “office tea” — stuff so stale that the stuff it steeps up is not fit for any use, except maybe dying clothing. Be sure to go back to your regular teas when you get home where you have the time for steeping a nice relaxing potful.
4 Alter your steeping method. This is for when you’re using those dust filled bags. Steep more gently and for a shorter time to get a cleaner taste with little or no bitterness or astringency. Those tiny tea pieces steep up faster.
- Back off water temperature by about 10° F. For example, for green tea heat the water to around 150-170° F instead of 160-180° F.
- Shorten steeping time by 30 seconds to a minute. For example, most black teas are supposed to steep for 3-5 minutes, so cut that back to 2-4 minutes.
5 Use as a daily tea at home. Yeah, I know this seems to contradict #3 above, but it shows how flexible tea can be. By designating those bagged teas as your daily teas for a quick cuppa you can save your special loose teas for a quiet tea moment during your “me time” away from co-workers, friends, and family.
The big thing to keep in mind is the wide variety in quality between bagged teas, especially considering that most tea vendors offer tea in bags since customer demand is high for this convenient form of packaging. Make your choice of bagged tea wisely and enjoy!
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