A brief history of the tea bag… In 1908, Thomas Sullivan, an American tea merchant, began distributing samples of his tea in small bags of Chinese silk with a drawstring. Consumers noticed that they could simply leave the tea in the bag and re-use it. It was not however till the 1950’s that Tetley’s commercialised the tea bag and launched it in the UK.
It proved an immediate success, as it was easy and convenient, making tea bags popular for many people today. Tea bags are normally made using fannings or “dust” – a by-product from the sorting of higher grade loose leaf tea. Fannings are useful in bagged teas because the greater surface area of the many particles allows for a very fast, complete diffusion of the tea into the water – producing a stronger, harsh flavour when brewed. It is not always possible to fit larger tea leaves into small tea bags without breaking the leaves in the production process.
In summary, the real benefits of loose leaf tea vs. tea bags:
Dried tea can lose its flavour quickly on exposure to air. Tea bags that contain leaves broken into small pieces have a greater surface area to volume ratio of the leaves that exposes them to more air, and therefore causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces, or to be entirely intact which means they remain fresher for longer.
With loose leaf tea there is no problem of ‘tasting the teabag’. Using a good quality infuser or teapot ensures you don’t have the residual taste left by a paper tea bag.
Whole leaf tea retains most of the natural oils in the tea leaf. Breaking up the leaves for bags loses many of the natural flavoured oils in the leaf that give the tea its unique taste.
The tea leaves have enough room to open up and release their full flavour. The small size of the bag does not allow leaves to diffuse and steep properly.
With leaf tea there is no temptation to squeeze the tea bag against the side of the mug, which will release more tannins and makes a very bitter cup.
There are no tea bags to recycle, and no risk of being exposed to the carcinogenic glues or coatings used on some tea bags.
Lastly, as you can see the tea leaves unfurl in your teapot or cup, you know exactly what tea you drinking. You can even experiment by mixing your own teas, for example green tea and spearmint or Rooibos and Honeybush, make a fantastic blend.
Château Rouge are purveyors of fine, premium, specialist and luxury leaf teas that are sourced from around the world. Chateau Rouge Luxury Teas Ltd, Coppergate House, 16 Brune St, London E1 7NJ, England. Company No.5489120
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