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I'm not much of a tea connoisseur*. But I do know what I like — strong, sweet black tea, and lots of it — and at present, the method I'm using is to boil a cup or so of cold water and about nine cheap tea bags, then turn off the heat and let the whole thing slowly cool on the burner (usually enough that I don't need ice to bring the result to a slightly warm drinking temperature). Then I pour it in a pitcher with some sugar and enough water to bring it to half a gallon; I generally squeeze the bags a bit to avoid waste, although I've tried avoiding that a few times to see if it makes a difference. This tastes nice and stout, and gets me through the average day. I've read some things that suggest steeping tea this long and aggressively will make it horribly bitter, but either those are exaggerations or I have a barbaric tongue, because I haven't noticed any such problems.

The problem I do have is that, especially after a bit of refrigeration, the last half-cup or so of tea has a lot of nasty-looking and nasty-tasting particulates in it. They're fine enough it's difficult to settle them out, even trying various slow pouring methods without disturbing the pitcher much, so presumably the bags don't filter them out either. What can I do about them other than throwing out the dregs? Is there some flawed part of my process that's producing them?

*To say the least.

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    This is just a guess, but is there any chance that what you're seeing are small amounts of tea that came out of the bags when you squeezed them, and have settled to the bottom of your pitcher throughout the course of the day? That has happened to me, and, although I also like my tea strong, I find those loose dregs quite ugly and unpalatable! – Sue Jun 17 '15 at 20:40
  • @Sue: It's possible. I forgot to mention that I've tried not squeezing several times, and it didn't seem to make a noticeable difference. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 17 '15 at 20:42
  • I'm glad you edited that into your question. I wish I could help you but I can't think of anything else. I'm looking forward to the answers you get! – Sue Jun 17 '15 at 20:49
  • It's unavoidable getting that, you have to leave the last cup as an offering to the tea gods. – GdD Jun 18 '15 at 7:43
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    A small note on the bitterness, most of the cheap commercial teas (at least those I have tried) are quite vented (so less strong taste) and often based on ceylon-type (typically used for the common Earl-Grey). Ceylon is a pretty safe tea: it doesn't get too bitter. Once, give a try with Assam leaves of tea, or even Darjeeling. you will probably notice a difference in bitterness. Whether you like it or not... – bilbo_pingouin Jun 18 '15 at 11:44
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Those particles are bits of tea leaves (etc.) that came out of the tea bags. They're fine enough particles to get through the bags. Basically, tea dust.

You don't notice them at first because they're suspended in the tea. So you could just stir it up before pouring off each cup. Alternatively, disturb the pitcher as minimally as possible, and pour off the tea. Leave the settled tea dust at the bottom.

Rinsing the tea bags in cold water before steeping might help. (Make sure to use cold water so you don't remove much flavor.)

Other than that, a fine enough filter will remove them. You could try coffee filters, they're cheap enough. Or a nut milk bag. Or a superbag. (Coffee filter is probably the finest filter of those, though by far not the sturdiest).

PS: You might be covering up the oversteeped tea flavor with enough sugar...

  • I'll give the rinsing idea a try tomorrow, and if that doesn't work try to dig up some coffee filters. Thanks. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 17 '15 at 21:24
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    This is probably correct, though there is an enzyme that I learned about from an additive company that is used to remove cloudiness for industrially-brewed bottled tea. I didn't know much about the details, other than it doesn't typically show up as an ingredient because it's generally considered a production technique rather than an additive. – JasonTrue Jun 17 '15 at 22:27
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    Also, there are tea bags marketed that do not produce cloudy tea, e.g. Luzianne brand. I'm not sure how they do it but I suspect that it is something done or added during production as @JasonTrue references in his comment. – Cindy Jun 18 '15 at 10:21
  • I'm pretty sure that is what they are. You can actually try tea leaves (or bags with leaves inside and not milled tea) instead. – bilbo_pingouin Jun 18 '15 at 11:42
  • @bilbo_pingouin You still get a tiny bit of tea dust from loose, full-leaf teas, at least if you don't rinse them. (That's mostly what I steep, and I get a little tea dust at the bottom of a gallon pitcher.) – derobert Jun 18 '15 at 14:32
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In a tea ceremony style brewing, the tea is first poured into a 'fairness pitcher'. Usually a filter is put on top of the pitcher to make sure no particles end up in the pitcher. Then the tea is served from the pitcher into smaller cups.

Filters can be purchased in online tea stores, and they don't have to cost much. In your case, you can brew the tea in a teapot, and put the filter on top of your glass, before you pour.

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I know exactly what you mean, I hate anything floating around in my drink. I have a perfect size colander that I can put at the top of my pitcher. Now this colander has too big of holes in it, so I added a paper towel to pour the tea through.

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