Brewing Tea in Jars + Keeping Tea Bags in Place

April 3, 2014

clothes pinned tea bags

For the last year or so, I’ve been in the habit of brewing up a quart jar of herbal tea each morning when I make myself that vital mug of something hot and caffeinated (I’m currently deeply addicted to PG Tips with milk and honey, but I feel a coffee jag coming on any day now).

While I have no problem drinking water all day long, I’ve found that it makes for a nice treat to have something with a bit of flavor to sip with lunch. This quart jar tea fits the bill because it’s easy and helps me work through my embarrassingly large tea stash. It also frees me from the temptation of spending $3+ on an iced tea if I go out to run an errand or two in the afternoon.

verticle tea in jar

Most of the time I find myself using tea bags and have always employed the trick of attaching a clothespin to the tags on the bag to keep them from flying into the jar when I pour in the boiling water. However, back in January, I learned another way from my sister. She’s also in the habit of brewing tea in quart jars (funny how certain things run in families) and she keeps her tea bags in place with rubber bands.

When I first noticed that all the quart jars in her cabinet had rubber bands positioned below the 1 inch ring, I thought she was using them as a way for people to identify their jar. But when I asked about it, she relieved their true purpose and said that she leaves the on all the time, even when running the jars through the dishwasher.

rubber banded tea bags

I think her use of rubber bands is brilliant, particularly because it also identifies which jars are drinking glass regulars verses ones being used for canning (if you use certain jars for drinking all the time, you weaken them a little and so it’s best to keep them out of your canning ecosystem if you can as they’re more prone to breakage).

It’s also a trick to remember this summer if you have a stash of jars you use for parties and outdoor gatherings. Assign everyone a different color and pop the rubber bands on the jars to keep your drinks straight.

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34 thoughts on "Brewing Tea in Jars + Keeping Tea Bags in Place"

  • How very clever of your sister to come up with such a simple solution. One of them things where you bang your head saying; ‘Why didn’t I think of that.’

  • This is a brilliant idea! I just started brewing iced tea in my 1L Weck jars since I like to have some tea but not too much, plus I can pour boiling water directly into a canning jar but not a regular pitcher. Like the idea of a portable size too. Thanks for the idea!

  • Both methods are ones I haven’t thought of. I have clothespins around the house (and even in the kitchen – I use them to keep bags closed), so I’ll have to try this way!

  • Your sister is BRILLIANT!!!!! I will be bringing a quart jar to work with me tomorrow 😀 (Rubber bands, I have!)

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has an “embarrassingly large tea stash” 🙂

  • This is one of my favorite things about blogs. When the blogger shares such simple tips but they are mind blowing! I have wanted to have ice tea for lunch before but never have the space for a whole pitcher. I never thought to make it like this! Also, I love the phrase “canning ecosystem”!

    1. So happy to hear that you like this tip! It really takes no more time to boil enough water to fill the quart jar and makes for such a nice afternoon treat.

  • great idea! we certainly love our ball jars around here. I use clothes pins and rubber bands on everything, an opened bag of salad gets a clothes pin and so on.

  • PG TIPS!! Ahem. Yes. 🙂 This is a great idea! We keep our drinking & canning jars separate by virtue of them actually being different–mostly because we’ve been reusing storebought salsa jars for years on end.They’re just regular-mouth pints, but without a canning company logo. Super easy.

  • The kids have the new rubberband loom toy so we have a big volume of pretty colored rubberbands.
    They are a little thicker and stronger than a regular band so I use them to separate my full canning jars from knocking into each other. Now I will color co-ordinate our drinking jars. Love the tea bag idea!

    1. The constant use of jars for drinking ends up being harder on them than canning can be (particularly if you’re using a spoon to stir the contents of the jar). Occasionally, when you can in jars that you’ve used a lot for drinking and food storage, the bottoms will blow out in the canning pot.

  • I just screw a canning ring on over the strings and that keeps them in place nicely. Great tip with the rubber bands though! We use the anniversary/decorative ones for drinking glasses and the workhorse ones with measurement lines for canning.

  • I abandoned my teapots years ago when I tired of cleaning them, and accidentally whacked the handles off one too many times. (Life in a small kitchen.) I switched to Mason jars when I realized that I was using them to store tea in the frig for iced tea. I figured I’d skip a step and brew in the container I’d be storing it in anyway. The rubber band idea is clever, but I put my teabag in after the water. The teabag floats, and rarely does the tag fall in. I do dunk it a couple times, if I’m feeling energetic, to get it completely soaked. But, many’s the time I haven’t bothered, and it still made tea, magically. I spent years hoarding Classico spaghetti sauce jars, before they shrank, and also saving Hellman’s lids to replace the metal Classico lids. Alas, Hellman’s changed their packaging a few years back so their lids no longer fit the sauce jars. However, Marie’s salad dressing lids will. Plastic lids will last forever. The jars will, too, if you’re mindful of slowly pouring boiling water into cold jars in the winter. My last tip for the thrifty is to save that little plastic ring from the mayo jar. It just fits the neck of the sauce jar. It can be used for coding (as will colored rubber bands). I use one to remind myself that I’ve used a jar for tea once already, but haven’t let my ocd tendencies take over and washed it out yet. I figure if I don’t drink directly from the jar, it can be refilled with only a quick rinse, in between proper washings. DH takes his tea to work every day in a Mason jar and has yet to break one. I’m the only one who has broken them, too eager to fill a cold jar with hot water. I suggest you never, ever try to top off the jar with the last bit of water and fill it to the neck. Filling it to the neck is very likely going to break the jar.

  • I used to do something very similar – I would take an old pasta jar to work, fill it with hot water and 3-4 tea bags. Let that steep, then fill my 32oz nalgene with ice and pour in the hot tea. It was SOOOO good! I haven’t made iced tea in forever, but I’ve got a pot brewing for my fridge now, thanks for the inspiration!

  • Nice trick. I have been using the clips that are made to hold wooden spoons on the side of pots. Gotta multi- task these gadgets.

  • I have to admit, I just did this with a hair band while brewing my dandelion root. I also may have gotten one of the pretty jars with a handle to stop drinking out of my heritage jars.

  • As long as you aren’t using them for canning, there isn’t any harm in microwaving the water in the jar, is there?

    The rubber bands are a great idea. I’m going to start using them when everyone is over and no one can keep up with their glass.

  • I thought it wasn’t safe to pour boiling water directly into a jar? I always thought that was part of the reason for having your jars be hot *and* sterilized when canning.

    1. Jars are tempered and designed to withstand the heat of boiling water. You don’t want to pour boiling water into ice cold jars though. If it’s a chilly morning, I warm the jar with a little hot tap water before making my tea in the jar.

      1. ah, gotcha. Thanks. I often use a half gallon jar (originally came filled with beer!) for iced tea at home and I generally just cold brew in the fridge. Since I’m lazy, I’d probly go with the same approach to work on my own embarrassingly large tea collection

  • Old thread but a relevant warning.

    I use 2 half gallon Ball jars for my tea. I brew it hot (190-195 F), let it cool on the counter, when cool put in the fridge to cool it further.

    Today I noticed what appea to be thin spider web fractures on the bottom of the jars. As I bought them used from a thrift store, it is possible they were always there but I do not believe so. I fear the glass was shocked from the drastic change from room temp to 190.

    I am dumping the jars and going to go a different route. Be careful if you use jars in this way as I did.