Bags, pots, lemons, spoons -- oh my! Drinking tea can be a simple process or a serious matter requiring special equipment. Tea bag holders solve the problem of what to do with the bag when it's not infusing gently in hot water. There are two main types of holders for tea bags: wet holders serve as a temporary receptacle for a used bag and dry holders store tea before drinking.
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The most common type of tea bag holder, made from pottery or ceramic, typically contains a small dish to hold a used tea bag. The bag can be easily set aside while the cup of tea is being drunk, and the bag can be used for a second cup or discarded. This form of holder cuts down on spills from cup to tablecloth -- an improvement over simply slumping the used bag on the rim of a saucer. It may be large or small, and common shapes include tea pots and animals; sometimes there's space for lemon and a spoon.
Another kind of tea bag holder consists of a roll or hanger that suspends the bag above the cup. It can be elegant in style, with a burnished metal roller that includes a small slot for holding the string. It can also be comic, as with a penguin that stands beside the cup with its beak as the holder. This type of tea bag holder keeps the bag within easy reach but doesn't work with bags that lack stings.
The chest-style tea bag holder, used to store an assortment of dry bags, may be plain or elaborate. Examples include a Plexiglas box with a snap lid or a miniature wooden sea chest with brass fittings. A key feature is that the teas must be kept dry and separate so the flavours do not mingle. The type of bag in each compartment, however, must also be easily visible for selection. A variant is a small book with a slot in each page for holding various teas.
Small personalised tea bag holders consist of a cloth, vinyl or plastic envelope. They're used to store only a few bags of favourite tea and meant to be carried in a purse or bag. This kind of holder must keep the tea dry and fresh. Its clasp must be strong but easy to open, and can be made from Velcro, with a single snap or with a simple flap that tucks in.
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