Last night, I outed myself as an occasional tea drinker by posting this photo, which was immediately jumped on by tea people on Instagram and Twitter decrying my use of the teabag. Fortunately, it wasn’t a teabag.
I’m no tea expert, but I know the basics and the rhetoric enough to make a good cup of green tea1 when I want a bit of caffeine at night when it’s too late for responsible coffee use.
I’m well aware of the basis for snob teabag hate: bags contain very small leaf pieces and dust, tightly packed in, which supposedly leads to crap taste for various reasons. I, too, heard Kevin Rose promote Adagio on almost every Diggnation episode in 2006. I, too, have a cabinet shelf of tea accessories including two IngenuiTEAs, various balls, and other straining implements2 that have sat mostly unused since 2006 because most of them aren’t worth the effort or cleanup to me.
But I recently discovered tea sachets: large, spacious, pyramid-shaped3 bags of fine mesh, containing single servings of loose-leaf tea.
Sachets strike a remarkable balance of quality and convenience. To me, they taste just as good as loose tea. And there’s no measuring, dispensing, or cleanup. It’s the tea version of the promise of coffee pods, but it actually delivers on that promise because good tea is so much easier to brew than good coffee.
When they’re individually wrapped, like the one pictured above, they’re even more convenient. Not only do they retain their flavor for a long time, but they’re great for travel: you can bring a couple on a plane or pack a handful for the hotel and have great tea in restricted conditions with zero equipment, as long as you have some ability to make or request a cup of hot water.
I’m a big fan of two green teas from Harney & Sons:
- Organic Green with Citrus and Ginkgo: Light, a bit sweet. The added flavors make it widely agreeable even for people who aren’t green-tea snobs.
- Japanese Sencha: Without added flavors, it’s more for purists who like the taste of real green tea. (Pictured above.)
(Note that the sachets in the 20-count boxes are individually wrapped, but the ones in the 50-count bags aren’t. And I don’t recommend buying Harney tea from Amazon — they never have much stock, and it’s usually cheaper from Harney’s own site.)
Sachets are more expensive than loose tea or bags — these run about 50 cents each — but it doesn’t add up to much of a premium unless you drink a lot of tea.
For me, and for a lot of casual tea drinkers, I think sachets are as good as it gets. I wish coffee had an equivalent.
170–180°F for 1–2 minutes. I know. ↩︎
I also have the Clever Coffee Dripper, which is basically an IngenuiTEA with the top shaped for a coffee filter. It works exactly the same way. (Not recommended. Since cone filters — yes, even the fancy metal ones — are designed to release liquid slowly, delaying the filtering with the Clever usually results in over-extracted coffee.) ↩︎
More specifically, since all four sides are triangles, they’re tetrahedrons. ↩︎