A Very (very!) Short History of The Tea Bag
History usually tells the story of Mr Sullivan and his 1908 set of samples packaged in little bags, which his customers didn’t even bother to open before throwing in the water.
The really interesting thing is that this folklore story is just that – a nice story. The idea of pre-packing tea has been in existence for at least 70 years before Mr Sullivan’s samples. It also generated a flurry of patents between 1880 and 1948! I will not expand here: this fascinating history is perfectly narrated in this article: have a read!
Let us be totally open here… We could not be more against tea bags.
Tea Bags are not Green
No matter which way we look at them, tea bags are not green.
To start with, many are still made with plastic or plastic-like fibres, which we ingest (bad for us!) and which end up in the waterways and landfills (bad for the environment!). The new bioplastic trend, consisting in making a plastic molecule from other sources than oil, is really, really not good enough. In the end, a plastic is a plastic. Bioplastic can be recycled, but like plastic, only to lesser-quality forms. They can be incinerated (bad!), put to landfill (worse!) or composted… but only in controlled industrial composting, not in your garden.
Now, another trend (not new, as it predates plastic use, true) is to bag the teas in a paper-based tea bag. Much better because biodegradable, but still not great. And then, even some paper-based bags use some form of plastic in their seal, so they might not be 100% paper.
In a world in which we use so much energy that we see nature crumbling down around us, it seems preposterous to us to use some of that energy to put our tea in a bag. The energy to ferry the tea from warehouse to warehouse, to run the bagging machines, to package… All this is, frankly, unnecessary.
Really, trees should just be left to do what they do best: capturing CO2, and being gorgeous doing so. Not being cut down for a single-use cuppa.
Even if we were to set environmental reasons aside, we still don’t think tea bags should be a thing.
Why Hiding The Tea?
Not all tea bags are equal, and not all bagged teas are poor teas.
It is true that some companies go to great lengths to make larger bags to contain better quality leaves. These bags will also allow the tea to expand more as it steeps, thus bringing up more flavours.
But hiding the tea from view at all times is certainly conducive to abuse. If you sell a good product, one that you are proud of, I believe you should show it. If your product can help well-being by making your customers take a break from a busy life and enjoy the moment, just for 5-10 min, then that’s how it should be designed.
And if as a customer, you buy a premium tea, you should see the proof that it truly is that. Not just by its flavour, but by its look and scent, too. Nothing will be better than loose leaf tea for that: it has nothing to hide, and everything to flaunt.
But, the Convenience…
We hear you screaming "convenience" from here. Using a tea bag is so convenient! So fast! So much easier! So much cheaper!
Hum, actually, it is neither of these things. A fine loose leaf tea can be brewed several times, bringing the cost down to a ridiculously good value. Even a premium specialty tea. As for the convenience, ease and speed, we will simply refer you to that little table we made to compare both ways to drink tea… and suggest you experiment yourself!