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Fragrant Tea Balls

For the 60 years or so before the invention of the tea bag at the turn of the 20th century, loose tea was often brewed in perforated metal containers. These were produced in many appealing shapes, and some are used by tea lovers to this day.

Photography: Keller and Keller

Source: Martha Stewart


Tea balls make fine drawer sachets and bath infusers. Aluminum ones, mass produced since the 1920s, can be found in flea markets at low prices ($2 to $8 each). Sterling-silver pieces cost more but make lovely gifts when they are filled with scented ingredients.


  • Cedar shavings

  • Scented soap shavings

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Dried lavender

  • Epsom salts

  • Dried linden flower

  • Scented oils

  • Lightweight ribbon or seam binding

  • Ball chain


  1. Set the bottom half of a tea ball in a small glass so it won't topple as you add fragrant ingredients (available at beauty-supply and health-food stores).


  2. To make a bath infuser, try filling the ball with soothing Epsom salts and sweet-smelling, relaxing linden flowers; then add a few drops of scented oil (be careful, the oil can stain clothing). Screw on the top tightly, and, for the sachet, attach a handle of ribbon or seam binding through the loop on top of the container.

  3. Use a length of ball chain to hang an infuser from your bathtub faucet after it has done its work in the water.

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