Home Made Tea Bags

May 13th, 2009 - filed under: The Farm » Home

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Aren’t these just the cutest? I was lucky enough to have one of my bestest girlfriends stay with me last weekend, and she brought a very special treat: incredible looseleaf teas, direct from Alaska! We spent one lovely evening-and-well-into-the-night testing tea combinations, chopping cheesecloth, and twisting these adorable little baggies into existence. Full disclosure: there was probably beer involved, too.

Like so many DIY projects, this is actually really easy. It just takes a little planning, a little preparation, and a nice block of time. This was a great ‘group activity’ (unlike some others, which are less exciting in their assembly), and would make an excellent gift. Here’s what you do:

 

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First, get your hands on some unbleached cheesecloth (widely available – check your local ‘healthy market’), some pretty embroidery thread (color to suit your fancy), and some of your favorite looseleaf tea. We used a smokey black lapsang souchong as the base, and lightened it up with spearmint, rose hips, and a vanilla rooibos. Next time I’m going to try my own blend of chai!

Then, get your hands on some cookies. Cookies are part of the process.

 

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Now, you need to combine your teas to find the right ratio. You’ll need a big bowl for the final recipe, and some smaller bowls for test runs. This can become quite a process of mixing, steeping, tasting, modifying, remixing, steeping, tasting, etc. That’s where the cookies come in! Because it’s really rather impossible to get an accurate read on the taste of tea, without an accompanying cookie. Don’t you think?

When you’ve found the perfect ratio, mix a big batch in your big bowl. Then, snip your embroidery thread into 8-inch pieces. You’ll also need to cut the cheese . . . cloth (oh HA! right?) into 6-inch X 6-inch squares. Cheesecloth is sort of a pain to cut, because it’s so darn flimsy. You’ll need very sharp scissors.

 

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To construct your tea bag:

  • Lay one 6-inch square piece of cheesecloth on top of another (so it’s doubled up)
  • Place a generous tablespoon of your tea mix on the cheesecloths, centered but closer to the edge nearest yourself
  • Roll! Roll the tea up in the cheesecloth, just like you would a sushi roll. The more times it folds around over itself, the better. Try to keep the mass of tea centered, so that both ends of the roll are empty and free to move about
  • Grab both ends of the roll and fold them up over the mass of tea, so they meet each other above it
  • Holding the two ends with one hand, grab your length of embroidery thread and tie it tight around the two ends, binding them together
  • Voila! Tea bag!
  • Now you can knot your two thread ends together at the tip, or you can make a little tip topper like we did. We just used card stock cut into little squares
  • Don’t forget to trim the frayed cheesecloth, so it’s all neat and purty-like!

 

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And that’s really all there is to it! Special thanks to my awesome friend Amber, who actually did the majority of work here. I mostly just took pictures. And ate cookies.

Happy Steeping!

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  • Amber Kaplan

    YAH! Gorgeous pics and witty prose!

  • Kelly

    I love this! Combined with the homemade laundry detergent (and possibly because I’m on Day 9 of the Cleanse :o))…I’m feeling inspired! You’re such a good steward of the environment. Keep up the good work!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Amber – Thanks lady! Couldn’t have done it without you!

    @ Kelly – Thank you so much! That is the greatest compliment I can receive, to hear that this site has inspired someone. Thank you!

  • http://homegrowntexan.blogspot.com Homegrown Texan

    What a great idea! I’ve often thought to give tea as a gift (loose tea in particular), but couldn’t think of a good way to present it. I will definitely be doing this!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Homegrown Texan – Thanks! What I love most about this is that you can customize your own looseleaf blend. It makes it so personal when you give it as a gift!

  • http://salekdarling.livejournal.com/ Salek

    Would my local health store have loose tea leaves? I’m too impatient with paypal to go searching online. haha. Lovely little tea bags Sayward. <3

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Salek – Lots of health food stores do carry looseleaf teas. You can also scout your city for teahouses/nicer coffee shops, because they often carry them as well. But I’d definitely check the health food store first. Luck!

  • http://www.onehealthonelife.com/blog/main/ Tea

    Oh nice, I think the taste and quality is excellent.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Tea – oh SpamBot, is that you? haha

  • sach

    This is adorable, but the bags look so tight! Is that giving the leaf enough room to breathe? You know… to expand to its full length?

    I’ll admit my prejudice straight up though: if I have a loose tea, I make it using a tea strainer or I dump it straight in a nice teapot.

    Still, an adorable idea :)

  • S

    If you can get hold of a roll of teabag paper, it’s easy enough to assemble your own bags by ironing the edges, since they’re heat sealable (that’s how teabag machines work)

    /former worker in the speciality tea & coffee industry who’s had to prototype small runs of bags at 3am in the kitchen for potential customers!

  • http://momwithahook.blogspot.com Momwithahook

    Adorable. Thanks for sharing. I want to make some for my next tea.

  • http://www.dscomic.com Rob

    Very cool. I drink a ton of tea, so something like this could be handy.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Sach – You’re right, these were on the tight side and I adjusted the measurements in the instructions. Still, they worked great and made an AWESOME cup of tea. =) I’m a looseleaf girl myself, but these are great for all sorts of situations.

    @ S – Interesting, I’ll look into that, thanks!

    @ Momwithahook – Yay, glad you like it. =)

    @ Rob – It’s also a great way to get other people into the awesome land of tea. They’re perfect gifts!

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.blogspot.com Divina

    I love those home made tea bags. They’re cute yet versatile and way much better than store bought tea bags. And you get all the goodies with fresh herbs. Thanks.

  • http://chowandchatter.com rebecca

    these are adorable would make great christmas gifts lol

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Divina – You’re welcome! I love them too, so cute!

    @ rebecca – I’m totally gifting these this holiday – I am!

  • http://hellagranola.blogspot.com/ Crusty Baguette

    Those are beautiful!

    I had the same thought that rebecca did,I’m going to use them as Christmas presents for all the miscellaneous relatives this year. Now, to think of a way to package them!

    Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Crusty Baguette – Yes, holiday gifts for sure! My friend and I just wrapped them up in pretty brown parchment paper and tied them with the same green string we used for the tea bags. It was simple and old-fashioned but that really works, considering the gift. =)

  • Heidi

    These tea bags are so cute I am going to make them for Holiday gifts, but I have one quick question..Does the embroidery thread leak color into the water when steeping? Or do you use a natural dye thread. Love this site!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Heidi – I didn’t have any issue with the thread bleeding, but it might be better to use some organic cotton or hemp twine or something. Glad you like the site! Welcome!

  • Caroline

    Wow, my daughter loves herb Tea, these would make a great Xmas gift. Thanks

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  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/722093/charlotte_prescott.html Charlotte Prescott

    I found you through “Crafting a Green World.” I would hate to imagine a life without cups of tea, and I’m very impressed with your lower-footprint (and compost-friendly) tea bags. Do you think that any fabric other than cheesecloth would work for these?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Charlotte Prescott – Thanks! And I’m betting any ‘breathable’ fabric would work. Like a muslin or any fine mesh . . . maybe even an old pair of nylon stockings? I think there’s quite a few options. What were you thinking?

  • Angelica

    Thank you!
    We have alot of chamomile and this year. I wanted to use it. its really pretty to look at. BUT its super yummy for you too. Now WE WILL HAVE IT IN SUPER CUTE TEA BAGS TOO. THANK YOU!!
    U ROCK!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Angelica – You’re welcome! And ooh!, I’ve always wanted to grow my own chamomile. So jealous! =D

  • Erika

    I just bought tea bags to fill and wish I had found your post first. Ingenious! Thank you for sharing. Off to concoct some herbal blends. Mmmmm…. :)

  • Anna

    Thanks for such a great idea! Today I planned to gather so three from forest and meadows and just tried to finde instruction how to make some teabags! :) Thank U! :) Im planning to fill it with dried fruits, greentea and mix it all together!! :)

  • Anna

    sorry, I mean “… gather tea from forest and…”

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  • ellie

    What is cheese cloth??? And where do you buy it???
    Making it for my mums x-mas present!
    Thanks!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Cheese cloth is like a really thin cloth that will let liquids thru but not solids, like a fine mesh sieve. You can find it at most supermarkets, and definitely at kitchen supply stores (Sur la Table, etc). Also online (like Amazon).

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