Do tea bags take away from the quality of your favorite tea drink? Loose leaf tea is all about quality but when traveling or in the office, it is often not as convenient to use as tea bags. For those tea drinkers who enjoy the finest loose leaf teas however, there is now a way to easily prepare your own bagged tea without sacrificing quality and the enjoyment associated with brewing quality tea.
There is no doubt that tea bags are convenient; they were after all invented for the American Tea Market and America is the cornerstone of convenience.
In order to prepare bagged tea however, the CTC ("crush, tear, curl") method of processing is used primarily for lower-quality tea leaves. CTC processing is done by machine; its name is actually fairly descriptive.
The machines rapidly compress withered tea leaves, forcing out most of their sap; they then tear the leaves and curl them tightly into balls that look something like instant coffee crystals. The leaves are then "fired" or dehydrated.
Most tea connoisseurs are not very interested in CTC tea, since this process does not allow for the careful treatment that high-quality tea leaves merit. CTC has a legitimate and important role in the tea industry: since it is a mechanized process, it allows for the rapid processing of a high volume of leaves which otherwise would go to waste.
The orthodox method of processing used for high quality loose leaf tea is a bit more complex, and is usually done mostly by hand. The process differs for black, green, and oolong teas. The basic steps in the production of oolong and black teas are withering, rolling, oxidation, and firing. (Green and White teas are not oxidized.)
The tea leaves are spread out in the open (preferably in the shade) until they wither and become limp. This is so that they can be rolled without breaking. Rolling is the next step. This is rarely done by hand anymore; it is more often done by machine. Rolling helps mix together a variety of chemicals found naturally within the leaves, enhancing oxidation. After rolling, the clumped leaves are broken up and set to oxidize.
Oxidation, which starts during rolling, is allowed to proceed for an amount of time that depends on the variety of leaf. Longer oxidation usually produces a less flavorful but more pungent tea. The leaves are heated, or "fired," to end the oxidation process and dehydrate them so that they can be stored.
Many believe that loose leaf tea provides the most aroma, flavor and body for tea drinkers and results in a quality tea experience. On the other hand even tea drinkers are frantically busy, even at the office.
What is wrong with tea bags?
Many tea connoisseurs express contempt for tea bags, for the following reasons:
- Most of the tea that goes into bags is not very high quality. As noted above, tea bags usually contain broken grades so that they will infuse quickly. Fanning's (very small tea particles left over from the CTC processing method) and tea dust are often used in bagged tea.
- Whole-leaf teas come in a larger number of varieties; and the most enjoyable and interesting teas are sometimes not available in bags.
- Bags are semi-non-biodegradable additions to the biodegradable tea leaves.
- Connoisseurs like to have something to sneer at.
Most tea drinkers use tea bags some of the time however, simply because it may not be convenient to brew loose leaves (at work or while traveling or in a hotel, for example).
The personalized tea bag solution:
The personalized tea bag offers a solution that is practical and cost effective. A disposable teabag is similar to the ones offered in supermarket and grocery stores but is open ended and larger. The personalized tea bag offers the loose tea drinker the ability to place quality whole leaves of their favorite tea in a bag that can be used for the entire workday. At the office the tea drinker need only maintain a supply of their favorite tea, place the desirable amount of tea in the personalized tea bag and add water.
The bag is large enough to hold even the largest whole leaves but small enough that a box of 100 can fit in a desk drawer. Further, the personalized tea bag is cost effective when purchased in lots of 100 or more.
With the disposable tea bag, all loose leaf tea connoisseurs can enjoy the quality of their favorite hot or iced tea without the bother of preparing a full pot of tea. As a result quality tea provides enjoyment throughout the day in a fast, efficient way without waste and bother.
This is truly a win-win situation.