Let’s face it – there are times when you just gotta use a bag. That’s true of lunches brought to school or to work from your home, true of purchases from the store, and true for that time when steeping loose leaf tea just isn’t possible. Yes, there are times when a teabag is your best option.

Three popular bagged brands. The middle one had a string and tag for easier dunking. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Three popular bagged brands. The middle one had a string and tag for easier dunking. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Don’t faint. You heard me right. Yours truly … a “Tea Princess” dedicated to steeping tea loose at all times and even bragging that I take bagged teas, cut open the bags, and dump the tea loose in my teapot … has admitted that there are occasions when one has to resort to that item of both adoration and loathing: the teabag. From its humble beginnings as a little silken bag used to send a small sampling of tea out to prospective customers to its now almost universal acceptance (our house being an important exception), the teabag has taken the tea world by storm and has certainly come a long way, developmentally speaking. You can find them in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and colors (usually bleached white or a more natural hue). They can be filled with fine tea dust or larger pieces. There are also ones you can fill yourself with whatever teas and other items you wish (some like to make their own fruit-flavored teas, adding in dried chunks with the tea leaves while others like to put together their own herbal bags).

There is a lot to be said for the humble teabag:

  • You get the right amount of tea (usually) for steeping up a quick cuppa.
  • You can carry them with you so your fave teas are always available (if they’re filled with that fine dust tea, you’ll want them in some kind of plastic baggie or individual wrapper to avoid that dust getting everywhere).
  • You can steep in a cup … no teapot needed … and no straining!
  • You can toss them away for a relatively easy clean-up.

Of course, there are points against teabags:

  • People (such as me) with sensitive palates can taste the teabag, especially the kind made of that hemp plant or muslin, and so do not get a true tea flavor.
  • The teabags that don’t have a string and tag attached will need a spoon or something to get them out of the hot liquid once the tea steeping is done.
  • Teas in bags where the pieces are larger are also rather cramped and don’t let the pieces fully interact with the water.
  • Some teabag materials aren’t good in compost piles (this is less true these days as more companies seek out different materials).

So, when is a teabag your best option? Here are a few instances:

  • You’re traveling and don’t want to have to settle for whatever teabags that quik-stop place carries.
  • You work in a place that doesn’t have any good tea available or has no tea of any kind available.
  • You have some on hand around the house as an emergency plan for when you need a quick cuppa in-between potfuls.

Other than that I personally can’t even imagine needing to use a teabag. As always, though, I leave that final decision totally in your hands.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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