My favorite tea blend does not come in prepared tea bags. To make a pot, I have 3 choices, use tea balls, use a tea strainer, or fill empty tea bags. You can buy empties from places like Teavana or Amazon, for about $3-$5 for up to 100 bags, or you can make your own from coffee filters.
Using one small basket coffee filter (for a coffee maker that brews 4-6 cups), I can get 3 bags, making my price per 100 bags about 35 cents. My sewing machine sits out in the guest room these days. I can whip up about a dozen bags in about 15 minutes.
Why bother making my own bags to save a few dollars? Well, because it's just the kind of crafty-craft thing that I love to do. Also, I can make my own bags really cute, to give as fun, little, "I'm thinking of you" gifts, or put out when friends come over. And, I usually have coffee filters on hand, these are very easy to do, and I have a very large supply of loose tea, both traditional tea, and herbs that I grow in summer for my own herbal concoctions. Finally, I'm lazy and don't always want to wash out a tea ball right on the spot, to make my cuppa.
I cut my coffee filters into wedges, but obviously you can cut them into rectangles, if you want them to look more commercial. Wedges are a way to use all of the filter. Larger filters will also work, and would be ideally suited for making your own full-pot tea bags.
In these photos, I used bright green thread, so you could see my stitching. But for the rest of my bags, I use white, all-cotton thread.
To make your own tea bags:
take 1 coffee filter (basket-type, for 4-6 cup maker), fold in half. You'll have a semi-circle.
Fold this into thirds. Crease it well.
You now have a filter, creased into 6 sections.
Cut the filter on every other section crease, into 3 pieces total.
Fold each section into a wedge, along crease line.
Stitch 1/8th-inch, or so, from edge of paper, along rounded bottom, and up one side, to 1 1/2 inches from the point of your wedge.
Fill with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea (I prefer 2 teaspoons).
Turn the point down about 1/2-inch.
If adding a string (not necessary, but makes bags easy to remove from cup of tea, and gives the opportunity to do something creative with the tag), take about 6 inches of cotton string and tie a knot in one end. (Cheap source of cotton string -- the string that holds an extra large flour or sugar sack closed. Otherwise I use either crochet yarn/string or kitchen string. You could also probably use white cotton embroidery floss.)
Place this knotted end, under the folded down point of the bag.
Finish your stitching along the unsealed edge of the bag, with the point down, and catching the string in the stitching.
Complete with a tag on the other end of the string.
Some tags that I've made
2 construction paper flowers, glued together with string in between, and labeled on the back side with type of tea
small folded piece of scrapbook paper, rubber stamped with initial of recipient's name, string knotted and stapled, catching the string in staple
a button from my button box, square knot tied to end of string
as these bags are "fan-shaped", going with that theme, a fan-shaped piece of scrapbook paper, glued to string on underside
Just a note: Coffee filters are not quite as porous as tea bag papers, so these bags "inflate", hold air, and float upon adding boiling water to cup. I haven't tried it, but I suspect that the bags would burst, if microwaved in a cup of water. I have seen some brands of tea bags do that. Just a warning, if you need to reheat your tea, take the bag out first.
Next time, on As The Tea Leaf Curls, my homemade, reusable tea bags, totally free, and quick to make.
(Didn't I tell you that January is the month that I actually have free time, and like to do all sorts of fun projects? Oh, never a dull moment in my humble abode!)