Why you should dump the tea bags!
Tea bags: Surely there is at least one in every kitchen? Years of routine and familiarity doesn’t necessarily make the humble tea bag the best option for your next brew.
Teabags: Bleach and Plastic
There are two fundamental types of teabag. Most tea bags are a bleached paper outer that is woven with 20% plastic. Inside this bag are tiny tea particles known as “fannings and dust” in the trade. When steeped, they release more tannins than whole leaf tea, resulting in bitter astringent brews. It is highly unlikely for the best teas to be used in these bags, which are generally produced by large corporations and found in every single supermarket and convenience store. There are also some companies out there who offer whole leaf teas in silk pyramids. We’ll talk about these a bit more at the end.
A seasonal, artisanal, foodie approach to tea
Teabags are designed for standardisation. People expect their supermarket teabag blend to taste the same year in year out regardless of the season. Our offering of loose leaf teas is the exact opposite. Flavour profiles, aroma, and appearance vary from year to year and season to season. Generally, estates, regions, processing styles and growing seasons are known for particular flavours and aromas, but weather patterns or geopolitical changes may affect any harvest. Our experts monitor world tea production and drink hundreds of samples (we don’t mind this part too much!) to bring the best flavours to you every season. We may bring you a blend from a single region or even a single portion of a single estate. Alternatively, we may also blend a Chinese tea with French herbs and African spices. This breadth and depth of tea profiles appeal to foodies and gourmets. You could drink several cups of tea a day for years and never have the same experience twice!
Our loose leaf tea is primarily made up of whole leaves. Teabags are usually made from the opposite – low tea grades, such as dust and fannings. Dust and fannings are tiny pieces of tea, so they have a larger surface area, allowing the oils that make tea flavourful and aromatic to evaporate. This leaves the tea dull and stale. The freshness of the tea is further damaged if they are packed in a paper box with non-airtight wrapping. All of this leads to less tasty, less exciting tea.
Room to breath
In order for tea to impart its full aroma and character into the water, it needs space. This is in desperately short supply in a traditional tea bag. In fact, the whole reason manufacturers use the ‘crush tear curl’ method of leaf processing is so the tea fits in the bag! Ideally, tea is brewed in a teapot. This gives the leaves the maximum space to swell and unfurl in the water, releasing the maximum flavour and health benefits. In a truly perfect world, our teas are best brewed in a glass teapot. Aesthetically, watching the natural loose tea unfurling is truly beautiful, you see the fruits, whole flower buds, and perfectly detailed tea leaves dance. Try it, it’s a truly meditative and hygge experience!
Tea bags are a drain on the earth’s natural resources. They are a waste of paper and, worse still, many of them are not biodegradable due to the addition of plastic (PET). It’s also probably more paper than you think: a pyramid bag, for instance, is made from a rectangle of perforated filter paper approximately 70cm square. A traditional square tea bag, uses around a 50cmsquare of paper. The chemicals and water used to manufacture tea bags also have an environmental impact. Unless you buy from an environmentally-friendly company which uses unbleached bags, your clean, white tea bags are the result of chemical processing. The wood pulp or vegetable fibre was once bleached with chlorine but the industry changed to chlorine dioxide or chlorine-free bleach in the past couple of decades following pressure from consumers.
We have not yet discussed the waste that is individually wrapped tea bags, using paper, carton and plastic blister. Ultimately all this does is use the earth’s resource to make something that is bad for us, bad for the environment and bad for the tea….time to dust off the teapot!
Some companies now offer their whole leaf tea in premium pyramidal bags. These are a definite improvement on the standard tea bag. Many contain reasonable quality tea and they have more space for the leaves to swell and infuse their flavours. However, there are some downsides to silken tea bags. First off, they’re often made of plastic, which is a little bit of a wonky choice for something to put in hot liquid you’re about to drink. Second, the nylon bags are absolutely not biodegradable (unlike paper and cotton muslin). Furthermore, the “corn-based” plastic tea bags are made from industrially produced, genetically modified corn that has been so heavily processed on its way to being a tea bag that it no longer contains any genes. Yikes! Furthermore, the claims that this kind of plastic is biodegradable are questionable, as they do not meet the FTC’s marketing standards for biodegradability.
Are you ready to set the leaves free? If so pop over to our product pages. If you don’t know where to start with your loose leaf tea journey drop us a line for a spot of advice, or try out our subscription offer and let us guide you.
Bags make kitty sad. Don’t make kitty sad…..