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Empty Tea Bags for Loose Leaf Tea and Coffee

Updated on February 11, 2014
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Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Make Your Own Tea Bags- Fill Empty Tea Bags with Loose Leaf Tea
Make Your Own Tea Bags- Fill Empty Tea Bags with Loose Leaf Tea | Source

Brew Loose Leaf Tea with Empty Tea Bags

I like to brew tea from fresh loose leaf tea. You can choose from many varieties of tea, and you can make your own blends of tea by combining different kinds of tea leaves. I think that loose leaf tea has a lot more flavor than the tea you typically get in tea bags.

You can also buy loose leaf tea in bulk. If you look at the weight of tea bags, you will find that you are not getting that much tea when you buy tea bags. When you buy loose leaf tea, you know exactly how much tea you are getting for your money.

There are essentially two ways to brew loose leaf tea: using a steeping ball, or filling empty tea bags with loose leaf tea.

Loose Leaf Tea with Steeping Ball
Loose Leaf Tea with Steeping Ball | Source

Tea Bags vs Tea Steeping Ball vs Tea Infuser

When I make tea from loose leaf tea, I usually use a steeping ball. A steeping ball is made of a steel mesh material and easily allows water to come in contact with the tea leaves. You fill the steeping ball with dry loose leaf tea, close the steeping ball, and place it in a cup of hot water to brew tea.

Steeping balls come in all shapes and sizes. Some use punched metal rather than a metal screen to allow water to contact the tea leaves. One nice thing about a steeping ball is that it is reusable. A steeping ball should last for years and years.

You can also get what are called "tea infusers". This is like a steeping ball with a handle. The infusers tend to have smaller holes than steeping balls, which does reduce the amount of particles from tea leaves that end up in your cup of tea.

A steeping ball does require cleaning, which is pretty easy. A steeping ball does not get that dirty with use. A good rinsing or quick washing with a bit of dish soap does the job.

One limitation of brewing tea with a steeping ball- if you have guests, it takes some patience to brew one cup at a time if you only have one steeping ball. If you have multiple guests drinking tea, it is more convenient to use tea bags instead of a steeping ball.

Another drawback to using a steeping ball- the holes in the mesh are large enough allow some tea leaf particles to end up in your cup of tea. This does not bother me much- I just stop drinking with just a little bit of tea and particles in the bottom of the cup. But some people are bothered by particles in their tea and prefer to use tea bags for this reason.

When you buy prepackaged tea at the store, it comes in tea bags. Why can't you get empty tea bags and make your own tea bags at home using fresh loose leaf tea?

Tea Bags Are a Convenient Way to Brew a Cup of Tea
Tea Bags Are a Convenient Way to Brew a Cup of Tea | Source

Make Your Own Tea Bags

You can buy empty tea bags and fill them yourself with loose leaf tea. This is a nice way to get fresh loose leaf tea without any of the drawbacks of using a steeping ball to brew the tea.

One drawback of filling empty tea bags is that the tea bags are consumable and each one costs about 5 cents. You would need to drink a lot of tea before this would add up to much of an expense. Another drawback of using empty tea bags is that they are disposable and you throw away the paper tea bag along with the used tea leaves. Since paper is renewable and biodegradable, throwing away a small amount of paper is not as much of a concern compared with throwing away plastic or other materials.

Overall, filling empty tea bags with loose leaf tea is an inexpensive and convenient way to make high quality tea. Using tea bags makes it easy to take your high quality tea with you to work and even share your homemade tea bags with friends.

Use Empty Tea Bags to Brew Coffee

You can fill empty tea bags with ground coffee, and brew coffee by steeping the tea bag. This can be convenient if you want to make coffee without a coffee maker when traveling or at the office.

Using tea bags to make coffee can be a fun choice to offer when having tea. You can even make up some decaf tea bags- mark the end of the string with an orange marker to designate it as decaf.

As with brewing coffee, you can use ground coffee to make tea bags, or you can grind whole coffee beans with a coffee bean grinder. If you plan to steep your coffee in a short amount of time- hours or a few days- it may be worth grinding your own beans to maximize the flavor. If your tea bags filled with coffee will be stored for awhile, the difference between using fresh ground beans or using ground coffee may be minimal.

Brewing Tea Using a Tea Bag and Cinnamon Sticks
Brewing Tea Using a Tea Bag and Cinnamon Sticks | Source

Cost of Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags

Prepackaged tea bags vary in price, but generally cost about $2 per ounce of tea. You can buy bulk loose leaf tea at much lower cost and get higher quality tea. It seems like an opportunity to get a better value by using loose leaf tea rather than prepackaged tea bags.

As far as the cost of filling empty tea bags with loose leaf tea vs using a steeping ball, the steeping ball is less expensive. For under $5, you can get a steeping ball that will last indefinitely. Empty tea bags cost about 5 cents each. If you drank a cup of tea every day, this expense would add up to about $18.25 over one year.

Since tea is so inexpensive compared to other beverages, spending $18.25 during an entire year is small compared to the cost of buying even a few bottled beverages. If using empty tea bags to brew loose leaf tea makes it easier for you to drink more tea, it seems like a good deal to me.

© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher


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