Tea: it's like a hug in a cup. From Green to Earl Grey, there's a brew for everyone. Packed with antioxidants, a good pot of tea has been touted as a preventative for ailments ranging from obesity to cancer. But once the kettle starts whistling, it can be tempting to forgo the five minute steeping period and just give the tea bag a few dunks, squeeze it against a spoon, and call it a day.
If you do this, chances are you're compromising your cuppa. The loose leaves in a tea bag contain tannins, a naturally occurring class of compounds with astringent properties. These little devils are also responsible for causing the tea to stain your teeth. When you squeeze out your bag, you're releasing the dregs where the tannins are most concentrated straight into your tea, making for a bitter drink.
Not only can squeezing forfeit flavor, but it can also be a form of poor etiquette. Bouncing or draining the bag to speed up steeping is right up there with slurping—in terms of a teatime faux pas. You're better off waiting until the tea is as dark as you'd like and then leaving the used bag on a saucer or in the trash can.
Tea wasn't made to be rushed, and its etiquette isn't a relic of the 19th century. Next time you want to feel like you're a character on Downton Abbey, do as the Dowager Countess would and let that tea bag sit.