Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frugal Ideas for Brewing Coffee and Tea

The Simple Dollar had a reader ask a question on whether electric tea kettles and ovens use a lot of electricity. In answering, he provided a link to Mr. Electricity, a website I've been having a lot of fun with today. This site helped me prove something I had long suspected, but wasn't 100% sure about -

My French press coffee pot does use less electricity than my coffee maker.

My instinct had told me that that the French press would be the more frugal choice, but it was fun figuring out that I was right. I had to take into consideration the whole process - I have an electrical coffee grinder, but the electrical use for that is the same whether I brew in the French Press or my coffee maker. In fact, I grind the coffee a little less for the French Press, so there is a little more in its favor. So the real question was - which sucks up more energy: the 10 minutes or so it takes to bring the kettle to a boil or the coffee maker brewing up my java?

The winner for me was clearly the french press! What's more, I know that when I make a pot of coffee in my coffeemaker, I have a tendency to make several cups worth and then leave it on as I drink it throughout the day. With my french press I can make no more than 2 cups of coffee at a time, and once it is made, no additional electricity is used. Truth is, the french press coffee tastes better anyway - so I win all the way around!

Not only do I like my occasional good cup of joe, I also love tea - green, black, herbal - you name it, I like it. And that is where the photo at the top of this post comes from, my frugal tip for inexpensive and tasty herbal teas.

What you see photographed there is my well loved and worn tea strainer with a packet of peppermint leaves from one of my favorite purveyors of spices. One day while I was happily picking up ingredients to restock my spice cabinet, I came across this lovely bag of peppermint leaves for $2.49. Herbal teas, which aren't really "tea" at all, but are actually infusions, are just the leaves, bark or flowers of the plant. I have found it is far, far less expensive to buy my own and put them in a tea ball, than to buy them in bag form.

Not to mention you can mix and match your own - chamomile and lavender are nice together for example. All of these can be bought by the ounce, and while Penzy's doesn't carry lavender, two of my local tea and spice shops do. Heck, I have even been known to grow and dry my own chamomile.

As a kid I never liked mint teas of any kind, but I have sort of grown fond of them as an adult. I particularly like them with just a touch of honey and milk after dinner as a digestif. I have no idea how long this bag will last me, but I am guessing I have enough here to get me through the cold Michigan winter!

Photo by: me!

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