Updated: Mar 26, 2021
These little gems are one of our favorite little tea room hacks. Made of a cottony, pillowy fiber paper, (kind of like several layers of kleenex smushed together) they fit on the end of the teapot spout to help stop drips from staining table linens, but we also use them to label each pot with the tea flavor. This makes it easy for the servers to deliver the correct teas around the table, both initially, and when refilling them. It also means that anyone else in the kitchen can pitch in to help if the server is busy - no one has to sniff the teapot lid to determine the flavor.
In their down-time, our servers use colored pens to handwrite the tea names on the little papers. Mark built our tea shelf with little dowels to hold each tea's labels, but you could also attach a little bag to your tea jars to keep them in. The key is to have a few of each label already done so that you can quickly pop them onto the pots. We stock anywhere from 3 to 12 labeled drip catchers, based on how popular the flavor is.
It is important to use non-bleeding pens to write on the labels, and to be careful with fine tipped pens as some can scratch the delicate tissue of the drip catchers. I wish I could recommend a particular type of pen, but they change names, formulations and styles frequently, so whenever I need to buy new pens, I buy several different kinds that look promising and we test them out. Once we've determined the best type, I go back to the same store and buy 3 or 4 packages and keep them in a cool location. Bonus: I then have the "reject" pens in pretty ink colors to use in my office!
We use color coded pens to match the tea types: black for black teas, green for green teas, red for rooibos, lavender for white teas, blue for decaf, and so on. Occasionally we have a server on staff who doesn't have, shall we say, lovely handwriting. We gently steer them toward other downtime tasks, like filling jam and lemon curd ramekins, or folding napkins.
We also sell small packages of the drip catchers in our gift shop. People are always delighted to purchase some of the fancy little things we use in the tea room. Surprisingly, some folks actually take the drip catcher on their tea pot home with them as a souvenir keepsake!