You find them in airports and airplanes. You find them in hotel rooms and lobbies. You find them in cafes and restaurants. And you find them in the cupboard in your kitchen. Any and every tea-enthusiast has come across these small, porous bags used to steep tea. These tea bags come either sealed and filled with tea, or open and empty, waiting for you to add whole leaf tea to it. Today you’re going to learn everything you need to know about tea bags and whether or not you should use them.
So where did tea bags originate? It turns out, the origin of tea bags is shrouded in mystery. Around the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Sullivan stumbled upon the invention of tea bags by accident. So like many other importers, Thomas shipped samples of his latest imports to potential buyers. And this caused a funny little coincidence. Some of his buyers viewed this as a new steeping method instead of a packaging method. They dropped the bags into water and were very pleased with the convenience that this new method brought.
Today, there are mixed views on tea bags. Many tea connoisseurs will tell you that tea tastes better when given room to infuse freely. Despite these views, tea bags are very popular across the world. But Before giving a verdict on whether or not tea bags should be used by you, let’s weigh out their pros and cons.
The following are some of the benefits of tea bags when steeping tea-
Convenience- By far the biggest benefit of using tea bags to steep tea is that it’s convenient. The process, which involves dipping a tea bag into a cup of warm water, is rather simple. You don’t need any extra equipment.
- Easy clean-up- Another superb benefit of tea bags is how simple it is to clean up. Pull out the tea bag from the cup and voila! If you steep loose leaf tea you know that you need a strainer or an infuser to remove the loose leaves, meaning you’ll need to clean the equipment too.
In fact, apart from convenience while steeping tea and easy clean-up, tea bags have a wide range of interesting uses like removing dark circles from under eyes, scenting or deodorizing spaces like a home office, and making your skin and hair look rejuvenated.
The following are some of the drawbacks of using tea bags-
- Incomplete infusion of flavour- A common issue with tea bags, particularly small ones is that they constrict the tea leaves. Tea leaves release flavour by expanding in the water and when the leaves are constricted by a small tea bag, they cannot fully expand or infuse the flavour, resulting in a lacking rich flavour of loose leaves.
- Lack certain healthy compounds- As opposed to loose leaf tea or whole leaves, the tea contained within tea bags is generally broken and contains dust created during the production method of CTC (Crush-Tear-Curl). As a result of this process, there is a degradation of healthy compounds like antioxidants, inherent to the tea plant that help to detox the body and improve overall immunity.
So should you or should you not use tea bags to steep tea? Well, our verdict is that tea bags can be used in a pinch. If you’re in a hurry or on the go, tea bags are a very easy way to make a cup. But if you have time, we recommend taking your time and doing things the loose-leaf way. However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you’re making the most of tea bags. Here’s how-
Large, loose sachets- Since its small tea bags that result in inferior flavour, using large, spacious sachets eliminates the issue. Large sachets ensure that there is plenty of space for the leaves to expand and infuse the flavour. In fact, tea bags that are shaped like pyramids are particularly useful since the leaves are free to float around both sideways and vertically.
Quality construction- An important aspect when it comes to picking the right tea bags is the quality of construction. Tea bags that are heat sealed as opposed to those that have staples are a better option. Also, go for those tea bags that are unbleached so as to avoid alteration of flavour due to the chemicals.
And lastly, always, always go for high quality tea. It does not matter how good the quality of the tea bag is, if the tea itself is not good. Don’t skip your cuppa just because you’re in a rush. Use tea bags. But if you have time, treat yourself to loose leaf!