If you create your own herbal tea blends or use bulk or whole herbs to brew tea, you’ve probably experienced the process of measuring out plant materials to make sure your tea is just the right strength. I typically go for one good measured teaspoon of herb per 8 ounces of water depending on the herb (some herbs should be taken in a far smaller dose for safety), and I usually use a metal kitchen measuring spoon for the task. But what about the small dinnerware spoons called ‘teaspoons’? How did they get their name and can they be used to measure a spoon of tea?
The teaspoon as we know it was first introduced publicly in 1686 – in London, of course! It was advertised in the London Gazette as a cutlery spoon that also held a perfect measure for tea. This spoon was designed to allow one to scoop the perfect heap of green, black, or Earl Gray tea, then use the same spoon to stir in cream and sugar.
In modern days, our cutlery teaspoon has strayed from its original style to one that primarily focuses on comfort and style. The average American teaspoon, for example, can hold anywhere from 2.5 ml to 6 or more ml which is why you’ll never see your favorite chef use one to precisely measure out ingredients.
When it comes to herbal tea, especially working with herbs that need a controlled dose, using a standardized measuring spoon is always the best bet. I was able to find a beautiful stainless steel teaspoon with an embellished handle at a kitchen supply store for just a few dollars, and I keep that with my other herbal tea gear as a dedicated measuring spoon.
For those of you who’d like to know even more about the teaspoon measurement (USA only as some other countries still abide by the original apothecary measurements)…
teaspoon conversion chart
1 teaspoon = 1/3 tablespoon
1 teaspoon = 1/6 fluid ounce
1 teaspoon = 1/48 cup
1 teaspoon = 1/768 gallon