My dear friend, Doc Willoughby, once walked past my test kitchen at Gourmet Magazine and saw me stripping thyme leaves from their stems. It can be an arduous process, depending on how much thyme you need. Doc tilted his head to the left and punned, "Akk, I just don't have time for thyme." And, he's often right.
Sure, I love the earthiness of the herb and we grow several varieties in the garden at the school, but usually I just throw the whole sprigs in the dish only to fish them out later, instead of pulling the leaves off.
In a class a couple months ago we were, in fact, stripping the thyme leaves off the stems when a student, Patricia, told us about a shortcut. Pull the sprig through a medium mesh sieve, stripping it of its leaves. We tried it immediately and haven't looked back. -IK