Making the Most of Bagged Black Teas

My godmother at a recent gathering where we served tea from bags.

We tea lovers like to indulge in leaf teas. The fragrance, body, taste, ritual and beauty of tea shine through in leaf teas. But let’s face it: we can’t always afford our favorite teas.

Thankfully, the perfect need not be the enemy of the good when it comes to tea. Teabags can make for a rich tea experience, too. You’ll have to avoid a few common pitfalls, though.

  • Don’t oversteep! Black tea in bags really only needs about two (2) minutes to brew properly. All the caffiene will brew out by about two minutes, and leaving the bag any longer will make the tea bitter.
  • If you oversteep, try adding the teensiest pinch of baking soda to the pot. This will take off the overly bitter edge. 
  • Ask friends for recommendations before buying if you’re new to tea. The grocery store brands that I’ve found most consistently good are Twinings English Breakfast, TAZO Awake, and PG Tips. If you’re lucky enough to have access to Taylor’s of Harrogate or Harney and Sons, the breakfast blends (or Assam or Keemun) are very nice in leaf or bag form. Sometimes a store brand (like the Whole Foods generic black tea) is good, too. Try to catch it on sale.
  • Teabags that come in bulk (not individually wrapped) work great in hotel coffee makers. They are also usually geared to frequent tea drinkers. I’m thinking of PG Tips, Lighthouse, Rose’s, the Whole Foods brand, and Taylor’s of Harrogate bags. They make good tea on a budget, and they travel well. 

Later this week, I’ll share some bag blends that work well for different health needs. 

What’s your favorite black teabag?

Fairy boxes

The tea table is crowded these days. Last week, I went looking for my old cedar box. The children opened it carefully. (It’s a magical box. Fairies had moved in!   The children were divided over whether they should touch the fairy things. But the set up is perfect for princess dolls. 

 For now, the box lies unopened, but who knows what will show up next time it’s opened? 


Do you have any magic in residence on your tea table?

Take it on the Tea

I love watching period dramas. I’m partial to a good mystery series. There’s one trope in period dramas that makes me “awwwww” in disappointment like a soccer fan when a goal is missed. Can you guess?  

If you’re going to hunt for clues, carry a tea service or at least a cup!

When the terrible evidence is discovered, someone drops a tea tray. Sometimes it’s only a cup and saucer. The key is, disasters provoke the immediate disintegration of china. 

It’s been almost three years since my dad died, and I’ve been conscious of how swiftly time passes. Many of my friends have lost a parent now. When we’re gathered around our children, watching them blow out candles and widen their eyes over ice cream, I can’t help but feel the fragility in the moments. Our littles will hopefully outlive us all. They’ll be the ones remembering the strength in the arms that held them, the warmth that fades out of old photographs, the love that lit their birthday candles.   

Teacups are the closest thing to holding memories in my hands. They are strong and fragile, warm and rich, or cold and empty. I set them out for friends and fill them to the brim with the best I have. 

I hope to continue doing so for many years. I hope I get to watch my grandchildren break my china with the careful distraction of childhood. Perhaps I’ll even rejoice to see them off to their homes with my old cups in hand. 

When I’m silvered over and it’s my turn to be the body in the library, I hope that whoever finds me is holding a teacup. I hope they drop it with a satisfying clatter. Then someone will come running. They’ll shake their heads at the poor old dear who left the world in quiet, and they’ll smile at the broken cup on the floor. “Gran always liked a bit of drama,” they’ll smile. Tears will disappear into sleeves. “Come on. Let’s get some tea.”

Dollhouse tea service 

We threw a big tea party for some special events in our children’s lives this weekend. Since space was at a premium, I set out the sweeteners and spoons in one of our toy houses.  

vintage silver teaspoons,honey,and stevia packets are displayed in favorite family cups

Do you have a creative tea serving idea?

Tea Cabinet exterior 

Two children’s  headcolds changed our weekend plans. But we’ve been able to putter around the house today while the littles recovered. I love the new exterior of my tea cabinet!  

Hercule Poirot greets visitors to the kitchen.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!