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A stirring tale, infused with tea

I drink a fair amount of tea at work. I have a long line-up of cylindrical Republic of Tea cans on the sill of my window, and I usually enjoy at least one, and up to three or four cups of tea each day. Mostly, I indulge in black teas infused with fruit flavors, such as RoT's fine Ginger Peach variety. I'm not much of a tea connoisseur, but I know what I like, and that includes the convenience of using tea bags. I do, however, have a couple of favorite loose teas in the office (RoT's Cardamon Cinnamon and a Keemun Black that I picked up one night at the Herbfarm) and I've been looking for maximally convenient (or, perhaps better, minimally inconvenient) ways to enjoy them. I've tried tea balls, and have found them invariably a pain; they leak tea bits, which is annoying, and they're often tricky to clean properly.

Just before Christmas, my good friend Lilly bought me a fancy new tea-steeping device she'd seen described somewhere. "If you don't like it, I'll take it," she said, which is just the kind of low-pressure tactic that works remarkably well on me.

The Teastick, from the Gamil Design company, is a well-designed tea infuser, both in form and in function. This stainless steel device is about five inches long, elegantly hooked at the top, and smoothly morphing into a hollow cylinder at the bottom, open on one side to act as a kind of scoop. It features a cylindrical mesh screen that slides down to firmly seal in the tea leaves while allowing the hot water to pass through. There's room for enough tea to brew up a 10-14 ounce cup, and the sides of the scoop portion are cut just right for measuring out a proper-sized portion of dried tea.

Most tea cups are too small to allow the hook to actually engage the brim; instead, the Teastick is intended to gently rock back and forth in your cup as the tea steeps. You can easily stir the cup with the stick to speed the steeping and, eventually, remove it when it's ready for drinking. Cleanup is perhaps a bit easier than with a traditional tea ball; I've found that the fineness of the screen mesh leads to fewer stuck tea bits when rinsing out the device.

Overall, in comparison to a tea ball, the Teastick is less finicky, less leaky, and less bulky in my cup. Compared to tea bags, of course, the Teastick is less convenient to clean up. I had been using store-bought empty tea bags (themselves a relatively recent revelation to me) for my loose teas, but the Teastick takes up much less room in the cup, making it possible to add milk and sugar during the steeping process, something that was an ugly process with the bags. Once again, life is a matter of balancing one set of advantages against another. How annoying...

Bottom line: I will use my new Teastick (thanks, Lilly, but I think I'll keep it) for all loose teas that want added milk or sugar, and I'll "stick" with store-bought bags for all my other loose-tea needs. The Teastick is elegant to look at, and functional in my teacup.


tee-hee! The Teastick sounds neat, and I like the name of your post. ;-P

I recommend this baby:

it's no-muss, you can make a second cup, and it's easy to dump out the leaves (and/or rinse out the thing itself). no leaves in your cup ever!

the teastick looks really cool but i don't think it allows enough room for the leaves to bloom properly. neither do tea bags. i'm a bit finicky b/c i hang around tea snobs that own a tea shop now. the only way to properly brew tea is in a teapot, without the mesh strainer. the tea leaves want to be free! i have the ingenuitea and recommend it too... nothing to get in the leaves' blooming way. too bad it's plastic though.