The convenience of a teabag with you own favorite tea inside. Sounds like a great idea. Is it?
The t-sac is a light weight bag made from unbleached filter paper. It comes in a range of sizes from single serving size 1 to large teapot size 4, and a special size 5 designed for tall carafes with a relatively narrow opening. Three unique features add to the ease of use.
First, one side of the bag is longer by an inch or so than the other side, making for easier opening and acting as a funnel while filling the bag. I’ve seen this funnel idea in use both with the long flap under the spoon to catch and guide tea into the bag; and on top to cover the spoon and prevent large leaf tea from spilling over the top of the bag. The long flap also can be folded over the edge of a cup or mug, or trapped under the lid of a teapot, to keep the bag closed and upright while infusing, thus avoiding spillage of tea leaves.
Second, the bottom of the bag is gusseted which significantly increases the space available within the bag for expansion of the tea leaves, and, once filled, allows the bag to stand upright.
Third, the bags can be easily sealed. They can be closed with heat using a bag sealer, or a clothes iron, usually on cotton setting, NO steam! Thus making your own teabags, especially for traveling, is a simple matter. We’ve also heard staples, and even a sewing machine (with white cotton thread) used. Whatever works!
Since we have had t-sac’s, along with various reusable infusers, available for quite a while, we can summarize our experience on when the t-sac’s are most likely to be the preferred choice. The greatest convenience comes from the ease of cleanup. Simply remove the bag and discard. If you garden, discard then in you composter! The tea leaves and bag both compost well. This ease of clean up causes us to prefer the t-sac when cleaning up loose tea leaves may be more difficult, ie: while traveling, or at the office. They are also more convenient when you need to prepare a number of tea servings ahead of time.
In our own kitchen, we will more often use a permanent filter (Chatsford teapot, cotton sock, or Finum Teeli basket) since clean up is quite easy when in a kitchen.
The final BIG question is what about the quality of the tea made in a t-sac? Personally, I’ve never noticed any off flavor as the result of using a t-sac. I’ve talked with a few people who claimed they could identify the taste of the filter paper on a very light green or white tea, but I don’t detect it. (PET PEEVE ALERT) Personally, the worst thing a person can do is charge $2.00 for a cup of tea and serve it in a PAPER CUP. (Are you listening Mr. Starbucks?) No matter how good, or bad, the tea is, it only tastes like a paper cup! (END OF PET PEEVE).
One caution from the manufacturer, and its well worth remembering; don’t over fill the t-sac. Tea leaves expand while infusing, even up to double the volume. Make sure the t-sac is large enough to allow for free expansion, or the tea will not infuse properly. This may mean using a size larger than recommended based on the serving size. This is particularly necessary with whole leave teas and herbal infusions.
All in all, while we haven’t used t-sac’s exclusively in our experience, we can certainly recommend them and will always have them available to use with confidence as needed.