I checked in pretty much all the tea shops for a tea strainer that was NOT made in China.
All of the tea strainers at David’s Tea and Teavana are made in China under “strict quality checks”.
Not buying it.
Then I found one made in Switzerland, sold at Degrees Kitchen in Toronto, and it cost $40. OUCH!
I may buy this one for work because it’s handy, but I am not too keen on the fact that it has plastic in it.
NOTE: Let the tea leaves mingle!
For the best kind of tea, you need to let the leaves float around freely.
Any kind of tea accessory like this tea ball that cams the tea leaves together and don’t let them circulate, are just choking the flavour and holding them back from socializing with the other tea leaves.
This makes them unhappy, and they don’t release enough flavour.
Anyway, I’m cheap enough to try and find a more minimalist solution and I found it in a cheesecloth!
You need to have the tea free-floating and loose in the cheesecloth so that the flavour goes everywhere and seeps nicely.
You can also decide to tie it into a knot onto the handle of your mug, but if you take a square piece of cheesecloth that is a good size, you don’t need to tie it at all (it’s hard to undo the knot when it’s wet).
Just leave it open with the tea leaves floating around the top in the water, much like a tea strainer, like this:
Sometimes it’s hard to let it steep properly, so I use a spoon to push down the cheesecloth down into the cup.
Satisfying end result:
I never worry about the little black bits floating around. I know it’s not going to harm me, they’re just loose leaf tea bits that made it through the cheesecloth.
You can also use the cheesecloth to squeeze all the flavour out of the leaves, and then just open it to drop the leaves into your compost easily.
THE COST: $0.77 PER TEA STRAINER MADE
I bought a cheesecloth at Williams-Sonoma for about $7. I cut up a big square from it, gave it a wash, and I was good to go.
I have about a good 9 more squares I can cut from that W-S cheesecloth (a lifetime’s worth!), which brings my total cost per tea infuser made to $0.77 each.
A lot cheaper than $2.50 to $20 for a tea strainer or infuser, don’t you think?
I can also use that American-made cheesecloth for other things, and it’s reusable (and easily washed) until it falls apart.
I AM A TEA SNOB (among other things)
….SO I PREFER LOOSE LEAF TEA
If you really love drinking tea like I do, I cannot recommend loose leaf tea enough.
I used to drink bagged teas for years (my dad still drinks them), but when I opened one out of curiousity, I realized a few of things:
1. IT IS REALLY WASTEFUL IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT
Each teabag contains a staple, a string, and a small pouch filled with the tea — quite wasteful if you think about it; not easily reusable.
Even if you can compost the tea inside and even the bag that comes with it, the staple and string still have to be considered and disposed of.
2. YOU CAN’T SEE WHAT YOU’RE REALLY DRINKING
The tea inside is not easily seen, and when you open it, it looks like random tea bits, some of it being branches, which is not where any tea flavour is from.
Honestly, it reminds me of sawdust.
3. IT’S CHEAP, BUT FLAVOURLESS
Loose leaf tea is more expensive but for good reason.
You get the actual leaves of the tea, not the sweepings off the floor stuffed into a teabag for sale after the looseleaf tea is bagged.
Since you can see the tea, you know whether it’s just tea dust sweepings or real tea leaves.
I mean really, how many cups of tea do you drink in a day? 1? 3?
If you buy looseleaf tea, and if you decide to reuse the leaves (I don’t, I’m a prima donna tea-drinker like that), it is a luxurious cup of deliciousness 3 times a day that tastes like the real deal.
You can also decide how strong you want your tea.
Once I started drinking loose leaf, I never went back. Now when I drink bagged tea, I can taste the difference. It is not as strong, and it is rather watery and bland tasting.