I was reading a recent story on the World Tea News site about the Tea Clutch.  The article goes on to introduce the reader to two different traveling tea clutch options, from Teabar and Stash Tea. 

So what do you think?  Should we self-professed tea junkies get on line and order our very own tea clutches? Clever, yes.  But are they really necessary?

6723113565_e5374c984eHaving recently returned from three weeks in Spain, I can share my experiences with tea on the run.  The tea I brought along for traveling was first sampled on the airplane where I was held captive for over 20 hours.  Not a pleasant travel itinerary, going from the west coast of the U.S. to Spain, I’m afraid.  One thing I can tell you: hot water on airplanes is dreadful.  It ruins your tea.  If I had asked for a cup of hot tea, I would have been given a dreadful little tea bag containing a scant amount of low quality black tea. Knowing that, I brought my whole leaf tea along with me – only to have it reduced to something far less than delicious due to the quality of the water.  

This brings us to the Thistle Down Cozy which provides a space for including your water thermos.  Now certainly that’s moving in the right direction!  it occurs to me however, that IF you’re going to be bringing along a thermos for water, why not just bring along a thermos of tea? For those traveling by plane – remember, you will not be allowed to bring a thermos of your own hot water as it exceeds the four ounces of liquid allowed by airlines for carry-on. It certainly wouldn’t remain hot for a journey of any duration.

Once I landed, I quickly learned that in Spain, the tea bags offered at restaurants and cafes consisted of low quality black tea. The solution was to apply what I’d learned to do at home: when I am at a restaurant, I typically begin by asking to see their tea selection and go from there.  If I’m pleasantly surprised and find a decent tea selection, I will make my choice. If it arrives in the form of a tea bag, I usually have to wait for the water to cool down, but that’s easy enough to accomplish.  If the selection is dreadful, I explain that I don’t prefer the offerings and, “I’d like to use my own tea if you don’t object?”  The vast majority of time, I’m not charged for the hot water.  Unfortunately, most of the time, the water is unsuitable for more delicate orthodox tea, so I’ve learned to bring along a blend that has the advantage of disguising the taste of the water.  

I decided I would use a similar tactic in Spain but the results weren’t as reliable. When I was forced to ask just for a cup of hot water, I got the uncomfortable feeling that the server thought I was trying to avoid paying for a cup of tea.  Unfortunately, my command of Spanish is inadequate for having a reasonable discussion with my server.

So I ask you, is it really worth all the fuss – when the likelihood is that the water quality will be inadequate to produce an exceptional cup of tea – even if you bring along your favorite orthodox tea?  What I’ve come to realize is that this is the ideal circumstance for a tea bag. 

Yes, you read me right: I just wrote that a tea bag was the ideal solution.

Many high- end tea companies provide self-packaged tea bags that easily fit into your purse or pocket.  My favorite is Smith Tea, a company that uses high quality whole-leaf tea to fill their tea bags. These self-contained traveling tea bags provide an effective solution for tea on the go. Isn’t simple often the best?

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