Remember the wooden tea box? At too many fancy restaurants, requests for tea brought the server ceremoniously putting a a pot of hot water and empty cup and saucer on the table, followed by a wooden box that could do an English toff proud. With a flourish, said server opens the box to reveal little packets of tea each in their snug little nest. The customer unwrapped his choice, put the bag in the cup, poured the hot water and voila! Gourmet tea to end the gourmet meal.
Not exactly. So what if the soggy little teabag ended up in its own pool of lukewarm water in the saucer, or floated around in the cup too long? Or had been hanging out in its cubicle so long that the taste was only in its description? While a lot of tea mavens will tell you that there is nothing wrong with tea bags, there is also a sensory satisfaction in pouring water over tea leaves an watching them unfold in the pot, give off their aroma and color transformation. And a little known secret is that you can infuse — or reuse the leaves — numerous times (some teas as much as eight) depending on the type of tea and taste you like. It’s like having your French coffee pot on the table. Even the water temperature gives the tea a different vibe every time you infuse it.
But there is convenience in tea bags. And upscale tea companies are putting fine leaves in silken, nylon, cotton muslin and oversize pouches in contrast to the usual paper rectangle. Despite all this, some prefer the consistent flavor and taste from well known companies.
Left are two examples of silk and nylon oversized tea pouches. They are shaped like pyramids. You can smell the aroma. Yum.
Below left is a cotton muslin tea bag.The tea in the pouch has a distinct scent.
Two of the four tea bags/pouches pictured are called by the same name. Can you guess which? Answer tomorrow.