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Floating Tea Bags

No more burnt fingers
  [vote for,

Would like to propose the development of floating tea bags, for use in offices where access to clean teaspoons which have not been contaminated with the devil's drink (coffee) can be limited. Have burnt my fingers on numerous occasions retrieving tea bags from hot water once they have dived under the surface.

To allow for sufficient time to steep, the buoyancy aid would have to be activated after a certain period of time in the cup, perhaps through the dissolving of an outer capsule (capsules could come in both plain and sugar varieties, removing the need for separate sweetener, and for emergency situations could also contain whitener). In addition the buoyancy aid would have to have good thermal insulation properties, so it can be lifted from the cup of tea without scalding.

suctionpad, Jun 19 2003


       Lipton puts a little string on theirs with a paper tag at the end for easy removal. You should look into it, since a floating teabag probably won't steep properly.
phoenix, Jun 19 2003

       looking at your name gave me an idea, add a suction pad (sucker) with miniscule holes in it. Stick the sucker to the bottom of the mug and add hot water ... The heat will make the holes larger thereby removing the vacuum and allowing the teabag to float to the top. Good idea. have a kwassont.
pjd, Jun 19 2003

       I was going to say the same thing phoe but then I thought that a little buoy (thats B-U-O-Y) attached to your teabag might be quite dinky.
DrBob, Jun 19 2003

       [phoenix] I am aware of the "bag on a string" solution. However in my experience there is a significant failure rate, where the string and the teabag become detached, resulting again in scalded fingers. I do agree that the bag will have to be allowed to sink initially so it can steep - hence the thought of a dissolving capsule (or pjd's suction pad). This would have the added benefit of making sure your cup of tea is perfect every time.   

       But the idea of a red and white buoy (with a bell?) floating on my cup of tea does appeal...
suctionpad, Jun 19 2003

       [pjd]'s idea has some merit. A teabag that starts on the bottom and floats to the top after steeping is not only practical for fingers, it lets you know for certain when it's time to take the tea bag out. On the other hand, if your suctionpad malfunctions and the teabag remains stuck, you will either burn your fingers very badly or be forced to hunt for a spoon, which is apparently the very thing to avoid.
k_sra, Jun 19 2003

       // I am aware of the "bag on a string" solution. However in my experience there is a significant failure rate //   

       Yes, and a more complex solution will have a lower failure rate, I'm sure.   

       I've never had a string fail. You must be using defective bags.
waugsqueke, Jun 19 2003

       After the suction cup releases, it should surface with enough velocity to jump entirely out of the tea so you catch it, or bat it away with the back or your hand.
AO, Jun 19 2003

       I find that those pyramid teabags, if opened out before hot water is added, tend to emerge with a pointy bit sticking out of the water which can be successfully grabbed for removal. Obviously the success rate isn't high enough as it stands but perhaps it's a place to start with designing a new bag.   

       On the other hand, at work I have standard, square Yorkshire Tea tea bags and I find that if I pour the water from the kettle from a bit of a height, air is incorporated into the bag, causing it to float to the top of the mug.   

       As a (rather clumsy and absent minded) research chemist I have scalded my fingers on hot glassware so often (glassware at 200 degC looks the same as glassware at room temp) that my fingertips are pretty hardy and hot tea holds no fear anymore as long as I'm quick - but I think this idea would be a way to avoid showering the lab with tea as I fling the teabag in the direction of the bin +   

       [k_sra] - not everyone likes their tea to steep for the same length of time so there can't be a defintive time to take the bag out
hazel, Jun 19 2003

       re: the red/white buoy - you can find quite small red and white bobbers among the fishing tackle. Go to the store and get a fresh one, don't just steal it from a mate's tackle box.
lurch, Jun 19 2003

       a little floaty shark fin.
po, Jun 19 2003

       Instead of trying to re-invent the tea bag, why not look at other, more economical solutions?
If there are no clean spoons available at the office, bring one of your own from home and keep it at your desk.
Afraid it might get pinched? Go to a second-hand store and buy a bunch of spoons then hide them in different drawers, nooks, and crannies in and around your desk.
Can't be bothered looking after your own spoon(s)? Go to your local office supply store where you can buy a yourself a box 1000 stir sticks ($3USD @ Office Depot) or 500 plastic spoons ($5USD).
Use a pencil or small plastic ruler to fish out the tea bag.
Pour your hot tea from one cup to another, swatting the spent teabag from the stream of falling liquid with a small tennis racquet.
Steep the tea bag in half the water you normally use, making it easier to extract from the cup, then fill 'er up with hot water.

       Of course, one question does come to mind. How do you stir in your sweetener and whitener if your have no spoon?
Canuck, Jun 19 2003

       Just purchased a second mug and a miniature tennis racquet. Thanks for the suggestion [Canuck].
suctionpad, Jun 19 2003

       The buoy gave me an idea - get a little fishing pole, complete with reel and hook. Combine the pleasure of tea with a sport that many find quite relaxing.
Worldgineer, Jun 19 2003

       //How do you stir in your sweetener and whitener if your have no spoon?//   

       I guess you'll just have to drink your chamomile black, [Canuck].   

       I find [AO]'s solution very elegant, except for the red blister that will form on the back of your hand after a very few days.
k_sra, Jun 19 2003

       And the brown spot that would soon form on the wall.
Worldgineer, Jun 19 2003

       I've been thinking about this today. Presumably, teabags are made from sheets of filter paper stuff, with gluing machines running seams across it in a grid pattern. If every teabag was connected at one corner to a one-quarter size empty teabag, then this could be easily manufactured by putting an extra criss-cross seam into every fifth teabag. Thus, you'd get a big teabag with a smaller one dangling from the corner.   

       Now all you have to do is ensure that little teabag doesn't collapse for some reason.
moomintroll, Mar 26 2010

       The idea shows a lack of imagination. Anyone with any experience of manual work will know that the function of a teaspoon can be adequately served by a six inch rule, pencil, 7/16" spanner (or 11mm at a push), screwdriver (flat blade preferred), 3/8" drill bit (or long series bit of smaller diameter), pushrod from a pre-unit Triumph engine (inlet or exhaust), set square (small machinists type), to name but a few.   

       Alternatively, just use the same spoons used for coffee, unless you really can taste the homeopathic contamination of your tea. A claim which I doubt could be demonstrated in a blind test.
Twizz, Mar 26 2010


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