Hey Tuffy Steeper, What’s Your Name?

I think the worst thing about being an unpaid intern is that I don’t get my own desk. Everything is shared, and usually in a state of disarray when I show up. Cracker crumbs on the desk, pencils on the floor, wonky keyboards, various post-it notes scattered around that say things like: “Danielle. Guy from hotel called. 617-594-9862.”One major bonus of having my own desk means that I can stash my personal necessities—in addition to the standard office supply fodder—conveniently in, on, and near it. Extra shoes, chap-stick, lotion, my favorite mug, photos of celebrations long passed, and perhaps most importantly: my secret stash of loose leaf tea and steepware. You know, the things that make a desk as home away from home as can be, despite the fact that piles of paperwork, renegade paperclips, and runaway bric-a-brac serve to remind me that I am, regretfully, at work. But alack! No desk is to be had for the time being. This means I must be on-the-go at all times, carrying everything I could possibly need between leaving home for work at 8 a.m. and leaving class at 10 p.m. in one trusty behemoth of a bag. Notebook, folder, keys, gum, two pens, one pencil, a stack of business cards, one hair stick, hand sanitizer, sunglasses, a voice recorder, mini brush and USB drive, wallet, hand lotion, eye drops, sunglasses, a delightful assortment of snacks and lip gloss, a Reese’s Peanut Butter egg–whoops, nevermind, and a used copy of Jane Eyre all currently reside here. Perhaps I shouldlearn to live with less, but such is my lot: hauling my portable life on trains, buses, temporary desks, and classrooms.

Fortunately for me, a miraculous device has finally been created so that this process of hauling my crap around can include loose leaf tea. I don’t know about the rest of you, but no matter how small a steeping device is, it’s never. small. enough. Fragile parts or awkward shapes certainly don’t make them handy for travel, while loose leaf steeping mugs for travel essentially have yet to be perfected. Enter the Tuffy Steeper. This silicone steeper is, quite literally, what I have been waiting for all my life. Okay, not all my life, but ever since my loose leaf tea-drinking odyssey began two-and-a-half years ago. It collapses conveniently into a flat circle about a ¼” thick, and the combination lid/saucer fits snugly into the top, making it a cinch to add to my ridiculous bag of stuff. Since I’m already waxing girly with the contents of my purse, I’ll go ahead and make things worse by announcing that I just love that it’s purple.

The Tuffy Steeper also proves its genius in practice. As I fumble around in the office kitchen one morning, I’m quite pleased to be busting out my loose leaf tea in the workplace once again. Now I will say this: Unfortunately, this wonderfully roomy steeper is a smidgen too large (at the top) for my standard-issue 8 ounce coffee mug. Fortunately, it really had no affect whatsoever on my ability to steep tea. The top part of the steeper stuck out of the mug, and so what? If I had my own desk I’d also have my own (bigger) mug (instead I borrow a lonely mug from the dish rack). Cleanup at the end of the day involved nothing more than a quick swish of tap water before I was on my way to class. Personally, I think it would be pretty slick if these things had a sort of plastic sleeve or protective disc that the infuser could fit into, so that you could toss it around and not worry about those rogue cracker crumbs and extraneous debris getting all over it. In any case, I’m just chuffed that I can have my luxury loose-leaf tea to go.

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