On Becoming a "BAG LADY" 

It is lucky I wake up alert every morning since I’ve never learned to appreciate coffee.  Most people I know love the smell of brewing coffee and thrill at the hiss and smell when opening a new can of grounds. Not me. Uh-uh! I dislike both the taste and smell of coffee.  Even foods such as mocha ice cream, fancy whipped coffee drinks, and candies with trace amounts of coffee are on my “Thanks but no thanks…..” list. Ditto with espresso scented candles. The only food I like that includes a very small amount of brewed coffee is chocolate cake.

A great cup of tea, however, is …..well….my cup of tea! I’m not usually very excited about flavored teas, preferring black tea and green tea or very lightly flavored tea.  Certainly not all brands of tea are created equal, and I am really fussy. Some herbal teas smell and taste like weeds that give people hayfever. I wonder if anyone actually buys Bubble Gum flavored tea. But it is fair to say I drink a lot of tea.

When my mom retired I joined her on a celebratory tour of Iceland. In one of the gift shops on our itinerary I happened across handmade greeting cards by an Icelandic artist that piqued my imagination. In fact, I’ve since marveled that there was no clap of thunder or the sound of a large gong at that moment. The artist drew simple, small Icelandic scenes and objects on used tea bags (sans tea leaves), colored them, and mounted them on card stock. The thousands and thousands of tea bags I had discarded in my life flashed before my eyes. What a waste! And since that day I have been a “bag lady.”

Once back stateside I saved every tea bag I used, setting them aside to dry. I even wrapped the string and paper tab around the bag to come in contact with the wet tea leaves and become stained. My mom and her friends started keeping their own used tea bags for me. I would arrive home and find small plastic bags of used tea bags tucked between my storm and entry door, or in my mailbox. There are different styles of tea bags – round, family size, flow- through. The “crimped” edges where the tea bag was closed can be in different patterns.

On an evening there is something irresistible on TV, I often bring my large collection of used tea bags and a lined trash can to my comfortable chair. I tear and empty the dried tea bags while I watch a movie or documentary, finger press them, stack and organize them, and press them flat in small boxes for storage. My husband once caught me ironing the tea bags, and commented that he thought the scruffy, wrinkled version had more appeal in my greeting cards. He was right, and I didn’t really care to iron tea bags anyway.


How I wish I had kept track of how many tea bag cards I have made since that fateful day in Iceland.  I am certain that number is in the thousands by now. I considered having some of the best designs photographed and printed as cards. My husband thought that just wouldn’t be as appealing as individually designed cards with the 3-D effect of an actual tea bag on them. I agreed.

Well….it's time to make some “Bag Lady Cards” today. Oh, just in case you had any thought of sending me your used tea bags, save yourself the cost of postage – I’m well supplied. I'm off to make a cup of tea.