When you think about tea in America, what comes to mind?…
Most likely, you’re not thinking about hand-picked Camellia Sinensis, dried and oxidized to perfection. You probably pictured the grocery store aisle with boxes of tea bags, that untouched box of tea you received as a gift ages ago, or the tea latte you get at your favorite coffee shop. Am I right?
When it comes to choosing between tea bags and fresh-harvested loose leaf tea, what factors influence you most? The convenience? The amount of time it takes to brew? The mess it makes?
There is a history behind how the two came to compete with one another, and all teas are not created equal. So, keep on reading…
Did you know?
The first tea bag was an accident! Tea bags were never actually intended to be used, but rather, were invented as a way to export and ship tea. Back in the day, tins were used to transport tea. However, the use of tins came at a high price.
New York City merchant Thomas Sullivan, being the entrepreneur that he was, decided to ship his tea in small hand-sewn silk bags to lower the costs of shipping. His business clients, confused and curious about the way he had sent the tea, threw the tea into their hot water- silk bag and all!
While customers began to rave about the convenience of the tea bag, new ways to bag tea began to appear. The bags were convenient, less messy, and shipped at a lower cost.
So what’s not to love?
Tea leaves take up a large amount of space in a tea infuser or steeper. During the tea steeping process, tea leafs “unfurl” and release their flavors, essential oils, and even caffeine into the water. This process, which is often called “swelling,” allows the leaves to unfurl and circulate in the cup, extracting the most flavor from the leaf. Well made tea steepers and infusers are designed to allow tea to unfurl properly.
In order to fit tea into a tea bag, tea leaves must be chopped, crushed, or broken in order to keep them as small as possible. This inevitably causes the tea to break down before the steeping process begins, therefore resulting in a less flavorful tea leaf. Flavors are often added back into the tea leaves after they have been processed in this manner.
“Fannings” or “Dusts,” are also used to fill tea bags. These small tea leaf particles are be found at the bottom of a tea barrel or the bottom of a tea bed (where tea leaves are dried). Once the larger tea leaves have been gathered, these fannings are collected and kept for tea bag use.
While fannings are still tea leaves, their size greatly diminishes the amount of flavor that can be extracted from them during steeping.
The size and make of the tea bag also directly affects the steeping of the tea. Thankfully, many tea companies are beginning to produce larger tea bags to house their tea leaves. However, many still exist with little-to-no room for the small tea leaves to unfurl and swell.
Tea bags of late are also made with paper rather than silk. Paper is an easier accommodation, however, this cheaper alternative doesn’t allow the water to order cialis flow as freely through the bag.
So, tea bags have become the standard for brewing tea in America…but what’s the trade off when it comes to flavor?
Join the Tea-volution!
The Spice & Tea Exchange® is dedicated to restoring flavor to your tea routine! We love the nuances of flavor found in natural tea leaves and the aromas that stimulate your senses with each fresh cup of tea. Because of this, we are continually delighted to provide you with our finest teas and proprietary tea blends.
We hope that this article has given you cause to revolutionize the way you brew a cup of tea!
Afraid of the fresh tea commitment? We make brewing easy, with steeping instructions for the perfect cup on all of our packaging and infusers to help you get started in the steeping process. Check out our loose leaf teas, infusers, and fun tea accessories to get started.
And we’d love to hear from you…Drop us a line and let us know what you think!
The Spice & Tea Exchange®