Shailah of the Week

May I Remove Tea Bags From A Pitcher Of Iced Tea On Shabbat?

OU Kosher April 20, 2023

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By: Halacha Yomis Team of OU KOSHER

I made a pitcher of iced tea, and the tea bags are still in the pitcher. May I remove the tea bags from the pitcher of tea on Shabbat?

Minchas Yitzchok (4:99:2) writes that there are two areas of concern that must be considered. First, there might be an issue of borer (selection) when removing the tea bags from the iced tea. In a previous Halacha Yomis, we cited the opinion of the Shvisas HaShabbos that one may not remove a fly from a cup of wine because the fly is small, the fly and wine are considered a mixture that is subject to borer. Nonetheless, one may remove a large piece of meat from liquid. This is not considered “borer” because the meat and the liquid are clearly defined entities and are not considered a mixture.

Minchas Yitzchok writes that he is uncertain whether a tea bag should be compared to a fly or to a large piece of meat. Furthermore, he is concerned that when removing the tea bag from the cup, liquid will drip out through the mesh. Although pouring clear water on a tea bag is not filtering, removing the water that remains trapped in the bag would be an issue of filtering (which is a form of borer). Therefore, one should either leave the tea bag in the cup and not drink the last sip of tea, or one may remove the tea bags from the pitcher or cup together with a teaspoonful of liquid. In this way, one is not performing “borer” since the bag (unwanted item) is being removed together with some tea (wanted item).