Contrary to that popular song, it is indeed easy being green, especially for those who want to make their own tea bags. And anyone who is of a mind to go that route is usually open to the idea of creating their own tea blends as well. Both tasks are simple, fun and very rewarding. The more of a tea aficionado you are, the greater the satisfaction.
Bagged drinks are all the rage these days, and not just among tea drinkers. Even the coffee crowd has been watching a steady rise in usage of coffee bags for individual cups. They’re pricey but convenient and most of the major sellers have gotten into the act.
Beer drinkers refuse to be left out of the “bag revolution.” Still in its infancy, the instant beer-bag market could see staggering growth in the next few years if the idea gets off the ground.
People who know how to make their own tea blends and how to make bags are the masters of the DIY tea world. Imagine, opening a canister of tea that you blended yourself and putting it into teabags that are also a custom-made creation!
For making tea bags “from scratch,” (and without the aid of a sewing machine) here’s how to begin:
- Gather together several cone coffee filters, a spool of thin string, a scissors, your favorite tea in loose-leaf form, a stapler, a small bowl, and whatever spices you’d like to add to the tea bags.
- Put the loose tea into a bowl. After you learn to blend your own tea, this can become the most involved part of the process. For now, to learn about bag-making, let’s just use one kind of tea.
- Add any spices or flavorings you like. A bit of cinnamon or a teaspoon of ground orange or lemon peels is a nice addition to the more bitter black teas. Let your own tasted dictate the additions.
- Fold a cone coffee filter in half and cut off the top third of its length. You’ll be left with a very small, double-thickness, cone-shaped filter.
- Add about one teaspoon of your tea blend to the enclosed portion of the bag and fold the top over to temporarily “seal” it shut.
- Place a piece of string in the center, allowing for about one inch to hang below the top of the bag. Staple the string in place. Also staple the side of the bag that has an open flange (from the folding in the first step).
- Add labels to the other end of the string with small paper cutouts and another staple. If you make several different blends of tea, the label will come in handy for remembering which is which.
- After practicing the technique a few times, you’ll discover more efficient ways to fold and staple the filters. Then, you’re ready to move on to the advanced class and learn how to make your own blends of tea.
To create a personalized blend of tea, here’s how to start:
- This simple version of what can be a very complicated process focuses on using two or three teas as a base, with just one or two additives. First, make one cup each of your four or five favorite kinds of tea, without anything added, and place the cups in front of you.
- Be sure to have a notebook handy so you can write down the mixtures you like the most. With as many as five teas to mix together, the variations are mathematically endless.
- Use a small glass to mix two of the teas you think might go well together. Add a teaspoon of each tea to your glass and taste it. Sometimes, a pairing that sounds good doesn’t live up to expectations. Jot down your first “taste test” in the notebook.
- Continue this way, tasting the pairings and making notes, until you have tried all 10 possible pairs (with 5 original teas to choose from). Do the same by combining them in threes. There’ll be 30 combinations that way. In the end, your notebook will show your opinion on 40 different custom-made tea blends. There will be 10 teas that consist of two varieties, and 30 teas that consist of three varieties.
- Choose your favorites based on what your opinions were during the tasting phase. To keep things simple, just pick the top five for this first session.
- Now for the really fun part: Select your four or five favorite spices for adding to tea. Common choices are citrus zest, mint, licorice, lemongrass, matcha powdered tea, ginger, cardamom, peppercorns, vanilla beans, dried berries, cacao, cinnamon, fennel, saffron, coconut, rose petals, and peppermint.
- With notebook at the ready, prepare one cup each of your five chosen blends and begin combining them with the spices and writing down your impressions.
- With five possible spices and five teas, keep things simple by using not more than one spice with any given tea blend. If you number your tea blends as 1 through 5, and label the spices A through E, you’ll end up with 25 different customized teas. (Try each of the five teas with each of the five spices individually. That’ll give you 25 teas, each featuring just one of the spices. Yes, if done properly, your notebook will get a good workout).
- Now choose your final winners from the 25 spiced tea blends. Of course you can calibrate how much spice to add to any given tea based upon personal preference. Now that you have, say, seven of your favorite teas-and-spice blends, prepare a batch of each one for insertion into the homemade teabags that you learned to make.
You are now an official tea buff, and have the notebooks to prove it! Creating a unique blend of tea and making tea bags does require a bit of practice, but anyone can get the hang of it within an hour or so. Matcha tea drinkers won’t have much use for bags, but there are ways to combine powdered matcha tea with bagged teas to achieve pleasant, one-of-a-kind flavors.