Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Garage" Sale Finds

As some of you know, I have recently become obsessed with loose leaf teas.

In case you have not yet discovered loose leaf tea, let me explain the obsession. Good tea is VERY GOOD, in fact, even tastier and more interesting than coffee. It is also better for you, in that it is not dehydrating, it has less caffeine, and it has touted health benefits.

However, there are a few disadvantages which have always restrained my desire to try more teas. Almost all pertain to pre-bagged tea. First, there is the problem of quantity. When one buys a box of tea, one is stuck with 15-25 bags, which one must then find a place for. I know - how big is a bag of tea?!? But get them all together and you have to find a shelf for them all. Admit it - you have half a shelf taken up by tea boxes. Then there is the cost. Pre-bagged tea costs about $5 per box. With 18 bags in there, that's 28c per cup. And who knows if you'll even like it? Usually the boxes are so tightly wrapped in plastic that you can barely even smell it. Now, I have no qualms about spending money on good tea, but I don't really like to fork over $5 for a tea I have no idea whether I'll like.

Compare this to loose-leaf teas. First, in buying loose leaf tea, you ditch the boxes, the paper sleeves, the mesh bags, the staples, the string, the tabs. It takes you down to just a handful of tea leaves. You do have to find yourself a workable strainer - I recommend a submersible mesh cup like mine. Next, cost: 1 oz of tea leaves will make 10 cups of tea. At $7 for 4 oz, that breaks down to 17c per cup. Lastly, if you buy your tea from a local shop, you are free to open the jars and smell the tea, and you will quite often find the attendent more than happy to brew you up a sample to make sure you will enjoy that tea once you get home.

Thus, you see why I'm now only buying loose leaf teas.

However, there is still one issue with the tea: although it is less bulky than bagged tea, it still must be put somewhere. The tea usually come in a little ziploc plastic bag. I piled them all into my Bundt cake pan to constrain them, but that was beginning to look messy. So, I began looking for a new solution.

I came up with the first solution: I found these jars to hold the tea. This left me with glass jars piled up rather than the plastic tea bags. Next I looked into buying myself a shelf to set them all on; but when I looked online, they all seemed expensive and hard to determine if they would really work.

So, it was handy last Sunday that I walked past a "garage" sale (no garage involved) and happened to spot something that might work. For $2, I could take a chance.

I brought it home, and sure enough! The jars fit perfectly.

Now, if I can just get it hung, I will be all set for winter tea making.


Sarah said...

This is fantastic! You're right about the whole shelf devoted to the boxes, I'm not even an avid tea drinker like you and a whole one of my precious few shelves in my kitchen is devoted to tea boxes. They're not pretty to look at either. I might look for a system like this.

sufferingsummer said...

LOVE this. It is beautiful and functional, my favorite combination. I too have a ridiculous shelf of tea boxes. I think I might have to go to the loose leaf only mentality. I even have a shop just half a block away! I have to say though that I'd have to try a heck of a lot more tea to ever give it a place above coffee for me;) a good arabian mocha java...or the perfectly roasted sumatra...oh don't get me started...

Melanie said...

Summer -
I figured I had a few friends who would take issue with that statement!

tommiejo said...

LOL! Have you been in my pantry? I have that tea shelf going on! I do have a great mesh tea "ball" from Teavana-love it. I like your jars that you found to store tea in!

yellowinter said...

it looks beautiful! $2 is amazing! i love garage sales too, but i'm just not that good at seeing the right kinda stuff. let's have tea together one of these days.