High Tea in Cubicle Land

Caffeine and work go together like whipped cream and bourbon. But when it comes to the office break room, coffee is king. If tea can be found, it’s often cheap bags, bought in bulk and presented in a multitiered storage rack. You know what we’re talking about.

A while back we posted a thread on Chowhound to see if tea-drinking workers had different solutions. We found that many offices are indeed filled with rebels stashing loose-leaf oolong behind expense reports and stealthily cleaning out infusers when everyone’s gone to lunch. Although some were into quality tea bags, most preferred loose-leaf varieties and had tips on how to prepare them. Below are a few popular methods suggested by Chowhounds. (And our tea expert, James Norwood Pratt, has some ideas of his own.)


Username:
geg5150

Tip: Use a
bombilla straw

Price: $8.19
Username:
serpah

Tip: Try a tea
stick

Price: $18
Username:
pinstripeprincess

Tip: Get a sphere
infuser

Price: $2.95
Username:
DarkRose

Tip: Use an
insulated mug

Price: $24.86
Username:
socalqtpi

Tip: Use a Cocoa-
Latte Express pot

Price: $19.26
Though bombilla straws are traditionally used with the South American tealike drink yerba mate, they’re a decent solution for tea as well. The straw has a filter built right into the base, so as long as you’re OK with not looking dainty while taking tea, sip away. However, bombillas are metal, which conducts heat, so they can get hot in boiling water. Let your tea cool a little first (but be careful not to oversteep). The Gamila Teastick is a compact device that steeps one serving of tea. The leaves go in a slide-out compartment. It has a useful hook, so it can rest in your mug. The only issue is that it’s difficult to clean out. Cheap and ubiquitous, sphere infusers, a.k.a. tea infuser balls, are an adequate solution for loose leaf. But because they tend to retain water, lifting them out of the cup can be a somewhat messy operation. Also, the opposite end of the wire chain lacks a good anchor, so you might have to fish it out. Try to get an infuser with a handle. Take tea to meetings or home on the train with this insulated travel mug. But be aware that the thin metal lip of the mug isn’t terribly easy to drink from. The Cocoa-Latte Express is one of many quality electric kettles that allow you to make tea without leaving your desk. It heats directly in the mug, and it’s quick. Downfalls are that it’s not quiet and you can’t turn off the frother. We also like this Bodum model for heating water.

Watch the tea tools in action:

Additional Tips:

1. Store your tea in an airtight container. You can buy one specially made for tea bags or loose leaf, but any airtight storage device will work.

2. Keep only a couple of varieties of loose-leaf tea at your desk at a time. That way, you’ll be more likely to use them before they get stale.

3. Help prevent tea sprawl by clearing a spot inside your desk just for your tea equipment.

4. Don’t leave used tea bags, wet loose leaf, or tea devices resting on tissue or important documents.

5. Deep-clean your mug and tea-making gear. The mineral deposits on dirty items will alter the flavor.

6. Keep an extra mug and some good tea biscuits around in case a coworker is feeling down.

7. If people are conversing at the coffee station, saunter over with your tea. The last thing you want to do is come off as elitist. Even if you are drinking something supremely better.