How do you travel with tea?
I recently found out that I might have to travel for work. These would be short trips, potentially overseas (I live in the US). I hate the idea of not having tea when I’m away from home, but I’m not sure what the best/easiest way to travel with loose leaf is.
How do you travel with your tea? What tea ware do you find easiest to use on the go?
I’m still sorting this out myself, but I’ve figured out a couple criteria so far for ease and sanity’s sake…including that I only pack teas that are easy going and simple (read: take standard boiling water, can handle being somewhat over or understeeped) to steep. The typical Andrews and Dunham blends, that use boiling water and 4 minute steep times, for example, Harney sachets of Tower of London, and no-cafs around the same (Butiki Birthday Cake!). Plus bags of what helps upset stomachs/headaches/congestion (so for me Stash’s White Christmas which is peppermint and ginger). The loose teas I reckon I will make up teabags for with my Finum fillable bags beforehand. Might throw a teaball in my luggage just in case, but really I can live with premade bags on the go. I just haven’t gotten obsessed enough to open up the world of bringing teas needing other temps (bc that would likely mean also packing a thermometer or variable temp kettle, and those teas are more delicate to begin with). And my choices are also stuff I have plenty of/can restock easily so it’s not the end of the world if something happens to them in transit.
So. Teas that fit that criteria, already bagged by myself or bought that way just for this purpose, and a travel mug. Then it’s all about finding hot water wherever I go. I have considered eventually getting a small cheap plug-in kettle (from TFal IIRC) so the water is always available in my room, but I’m not quite that obsessed yet.
I travel frequently with tea, and since I typically only drink loose-leaf, I pack it in a small jar with a screw-top lid. So that security can sniff and sample it all they want to determine it’s not drugs. I also bring a large tea sock, which while not the most ideal for brewing, does a good job in a pinch. Hot water and mug are easy to source, just add tea!
I thought about getting a Timolino and some tea I could just leave in the brew basket (maybe one of the flavored rooibos teas from Davids) to take. But I’m worried about clean up. Tea bags are an excellent solution to this. I’ll check into fillable bags.
I have to ask though … what’s a tea sock?
I honestly don’t bother. If I travel somewhere, I drink whichever tea is available where I’m going. Yes, even if this means cheap bagged stuff. I drink high quality tea all the time when I’m at home. A short while of teabags won’t kill me and it’ll make me appreciate the good stuff at home all the more.
Sachets, if your favorite teas come in them. Preferably individually wrapped for maximal convenience. I will often use sachets at hotel breakfast areas where they provide hot water (and usually heinous lipton tea bags). Bringing along some kind of vessel (travel mug) is helpful too; I recommend not plastic as you will be able to get away without washing it for longer if it doesn’t hold onto scents.
I usually stick with black teas or robust oolongs that can take boiling water, because I just don’t want to futz around with greens or delicate teas when I’m in those situations. You never really know how hot the water you’re getting is, so I agree that something that is flexible as far as steeping temps is optimal.
My favorite thing to do at the airport (after security) is to get some hot water in a travel mug from a coffee shop (usually free, but maybe $0.10 if they have a weird policy), plop a sachet in there, steep, and take it on the plane with me. No crappy airline tea!
I travel a ton for work, and I have never been able to adequately deal with loose leaf on the road (the exception is when I stayed in Beijing for three weeks, and then I got loose tea there). I am fortunate to have a lot of my favorite teas from Harney, Lupicia and Dammann Frères available in sachets, perfect for traveling.
I use a mug I bought from Samovar Tea Lounge – it has an infusing basket that sits inside and a lid which will keep your tea warm, and you can also set the basket on top to catch any water drippings in the leaves. I carry the tea leaves in a ziplock back, and I will use the hot water at the coffee machine in a hotel lobby to steep it in.
If you’re going to be in one place for a while it might be worth bringing a reasonably sized electric kettle so you can boil water anywhere, even if you just pour it from a bottle.
Edit: Unfortunately looks like my tea mug was discontinued…
I usually pack a timolino or some sort of easy infuser mug, as well as black tea (easy to just go with boiling water) in its original packaging (at least if I’m traveling internationally and have to go through customs). If I’m travelling for work, I’ll pack some high quality sachets – I don’t deal with loose leaf tea in the actual work setting. You could also get some tea sachets that you can fill yourself with loose leaf tea for convenience when travelling.
I don’t travel too far (at most like 3-4 hours), but when I do, I usually just bring a little canister of loose black (typically earl grey, as it’s my go-to and blacks are pretty resilient as mentioned above) with a mug/infuser/lid combo I got for like $10 from Republic of Tea. Oh and a teaspoon. Even if I can’t get fresh boiling water, I found about 2min for a 700 watt microwave usually heats the water up perfectly.
However, my aunt bought me a travelling tumbler from Rishi which has a built-in mesh infuser…it is seriously the best thing ever. I’ll probably just start bringing this whenever I travel, as I can store tea inside the tumbler in a ziplock bag while it’s not being used. I highly recommend investing in the tumbler if you don’t have one already…it keeps my tea piping hot for hours upon hours.
Republic of Tea infuser mug:
Rishi Travel Tumbler:
After my disaster with tea tins in the check luggage (which had nothing to do with failure of the tins, and everything to do with someone opening them up, dumping one all over my suitcase, and then putting it back in the bag I put my tins in INSIDE the luggage), I bring all my tea into my carry-on.
I found these really good tea bags at my tea shop. They are from ChaCult, and they are 64 tea bags to the package. They are nice and large, and quite easily hold 1 tsp of tea leaf with room for expansion. I don’t know if they are made out of paper…they don’t feel like it.
Do you know what brand they are? I have some fillable bags from Davidstea but they don’t close well.
They are ChaCult. Google ‘ChaCult personal tea bag’, and I got several hits. The tea shop I go to sells them online too. $6.95 for the package (though I don’t know how much shipping is). Souvia.com, then look under tea preparation. I find them to be great, and I re-steep with them too. Haven’t had one spill on me in the cup yet.