Using a colander to seperate the whole tea from the bits and pieces

I’m feeling excited about my discovery, so I though I’d share this with you all.

I’ve got this big ‘ol 2 lb bag of Peach oolong that I’ve had for some time now from SpecialTeas going-out-of-business sale. I have just recently been brewing it up to use as iced tea, but there are tons of little bits—mixed in with the larger leaf—that must have formed from the larger leaf getting crushed whenever the bag is handled; I have been steeping this tea (loose in a pot) twice, but it’s a big mess to put all of the leaf into a zip-lock bag or some Tupperware—once I’ve completed the first steeping—to brew up the next time I need more iced tea. I don’t want to use a tea-ball for many reasons—one being that I can’t use it for another tea while I’m waiting to re-steep this one once I’m in need of more iced tea.

So, earlier this evening I got the idea to use a medium-sized metal colander (with lots of 3/16 inch, or 4mm, holes) to try to separate the tiny bits of tea from the larger pieces. And, in one of those rare moments in life, an idea I had actually worked the first time I tried it! Woo, hoo! I made a big mess in the kitchen (and I think it kind of freaked my wife out) but how fun!

Now I need to buy some of those disposable tea-bags to put the little bits in before I brew them up …

Anyone else used something to successfully separate the ‘good’ tea from the ‘bad’ tea?

11 Replies
darby select said

Cool idea! I’ll have to try that, I’ve just been drinking the dust – lol.

I’m glad you liked it. : )

I am still hoping to buy some of those disposable tea bags to help me brew up the ‘fannings’ as I would a teabag (steep for about one minute, used once, maybe twice depending on how much flavor I can get out of the second steeping), and then ice it. Then, for hot tea I hope to use the larger ‘stuff’ to brew as I would typically do with any oolong (brewed up at least three times).

jones5874 said

SimpliciTEA, you can get a box of 100 compostable bags from Adagio for $3. I’ve never used these, but people seem to like them. Probably a good thing to have around even if you don’t use them often – I should get some!

Compost-able even, huh? Love it. I will definitely keep those in mind (while being on the lookout for other compostable tea bags). Thanks!

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Missy said

That is a pretty good idea for separating and using the tea crumbs. Check your asian stores for tea bags. We picked up some pretty cheap. Amazon also has a variety for decent prices. I got some reusable tea bags from Amazon. You could also make your own tea bags. :D

One trick if you go the reusable route, let the bags dry before trying to clean out all the leaves. Dump the majority out, once they are dry you can turn them inside out and just run your fingers down the fabric to get rid of leaves. So much easier than trying to pick wet leaves off of wet fabric.

Missy said

I forgot to mention one other thing. There is a tea sock that would work much like a tea bag only pot sized with out the need for separation. Lupcia has them for $2 and in two different sizes. I did not purchase one because I thought they would be too small for my pot. They may be bigger than I think but a comparison of the pots they sell versus mine makes me think their tea socks are built for smaller pots. I have been toying with the idea of making my own tea sock with a strainer from the thrift store and some cotton. If I ever do it I’ll let you know how it works out.

Reusable? All these ways of using tea bags that had not occurred to me; I love it! I’ll have to take a look at Lupcia.

If I were to make my own do you know what the best material to use is, and where I may get some?


Missy said

Very reusable. The tea bags (mine are muslin, I believe) are most likely going to be my on-the-go solution. The tea sock looks like a cotton wind sock over a strainer minus the metal mesh.

I would use cotton, unbleached cotton or muslin. I’ve heard of silk but that seems to be a tighter weave than you’d want for this purpose. I’d steer clear of dyed fabrics.

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Missy said

I found some links for you to look at if you are interested.
Tea sock from Lupicia. It comes in two sizes.

Tea sock on Amazon.

Tea bags on amazon

And guide to making your own tea bags.


Those tea socks and bags look great (boy, the shipping really hurts, though).

I perused Lupicia; I like the cloth filter. It looks like their green tea is all Japanese (they have a great selection, though). They have a couple of interesting looking gaiwans, too, but for $20. : (

The thought of making my own teabags appeals most to me (a possible new project for me this summer). Those are some great pictures and instructions on Lillyella’s blog. We don’t have a sewing machine, and I don’t really know how to sew (I think I sewed something once in my life), but I think I can probably swing sewing a teabag or two (with my wife’s help). What I wonder is, what kind of material (for example, cotton or muslin) would be best to easily wash all of the tea ‘crumbs’ out once I’m done using it.

Thank for the great ideas, Missy!

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Missy said

Your welcome for the ideas! :D

I have muslin it’s a looser weave than most cotton I think, but I believe they would be comparable in terms of functionality. Cotton may be cheaper to get your hands on. You may be able to find cotton sheets at a thrift store for very cheap. I’d watch the tags for fabric blends though and only use white sheets.

As far as washing them, I boil mine once a month for 5 minutes. For every day I rinse them in hot water until the water runs clear. I don’t use sugar while my bag is in the pot/cup so I feel I’ve cut down on bacteria. I boil versus using the washing machine because I think the detergents are hard to get out. Even if you ran the washer with out any soap for your bags there is a good chance there is detergent still left in it. I’ll take my tea with out that stuff!

As long as you let the fabric dry before you try to get the leaves off I don’t think you will experience much of a difference between the two. I’m thinking a really loose weave muslin may have more trouble with leaves sticking to it but you will see that when you pick it up. The stuff in general seems to be woven with less of a thread count than cotton. I will have my daughter take a picture really close of my tea bags and a sheet so you can see what I mean.

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