Tea bags: how to choose the right ones

Tea bags: how to choose the right ones

The tea bag was invented by mistake, did you know that? A tea merchant called Thomas Sullivan was looking for a way to cut the cost of sending out loose leaf tea samples. That’s when he came up with a revolutionary solution: putting the tea leaves in small square pockets made of silk. When his clients received them, they decided to infuse their loose leaf tea inside these little sachets.  And so the tea bag was born!

Since then, tea bags and sachets have become one of the most common ways to serve tea. 75% of all tea around the world is consumed using tea bags. Above all else, the popularity of tea bags is all down to their ease of use: there is no need to weight out the quantity of tea or to clean up the loose leaves afterwards (used tea bags can simply be thrown away).

The tea bag revolution opened up a whole range of options: tea bags made of gauze, muslin or paper, flat or pyramid-shaped tea bags, individually wrapped tea bags… But the most important thing, even when you’re in a hurry, is for you to enjoy all the wonderful flavours of your tea. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing your tea bags =)

Which material for my tea bags?

Paper tea bags

Let’s start with the most well-known and popular type of tea bag. Paper tea bags are cheaper to produce and therefore cheaper to buy. They are also the easiest to use.
tea bag

Paper tea bags do produce a light bitterness that can alter the taste of your tea. What’s more, the mass production of tea (generally as paper tea bags) has led to a deterioration in terms of quality. You also generally can’t see the actual tea hidden inside the opaque bag sadly. What you’re drinking is often what we call ‘tea fannings’, the small pieces of tea left over after the higher quality tea leaves are gathered.

Despite the above, paper tea bags and tea sachets still represent the cheapest and easiest way to consume tea.

What to avoid:

  • bleached white tea bags – the chlorine in them is bad for your health and affects the taste.
  • staples and other pieces of metal since they produce an astringent taste.
  • tea bags sealed with glue.

Terra Etica, Cosy, Ahmad Tea are some of the brands offering paper tea bags made without glue or staples.

Muslin tea sachets

The very first tea sachets were made of handwoven silk muslin fabric. Muslin tea bag

Whether they are made of cotton or silk muslin, the benefits of this type of tea sachet are essentially the same:

  • better preservation of flavours
  • no distortion in the taste qualities
  • more durable than paper

First and foremost, large-mesh muslin fabric allows the water to fully infuse the whole tea leaves. It is also transparent, meaning the consumer can check the quality of the tea inside the sachet.

The advantage of silk muslin is that it is more durable and of higher quality than cotton. However, this naturally comes with an added cost.

Muslin tea sachets are making a comeback among tea lovers in search of quality and convenience. Indeed, a tea infusion with muslin sachets is more comparable to that of loose leaf tea.

Brands such as Dammann Frères, Harney & Sons and 1336 (Scop Ti) have a great selection of tea in muslin sachets.

Which shape for my tea bags?

Flat tea bagFlat tea bags

Flat tea bags can be individually wrapped, making them convenient to just pop into your bag! This additional packaging better preserves the tea flavours. However, the sides of flat paper tea bags have a frustrating tendency to stick together, preventing the release of all the flavours during the infusion. Muslin fabric is a better option for flat tea sachets since it delivers a richer, fuller cup of tea.

For flat tea bags and sachets, you can turn to brands like Destination, Palais des Thés or Comptoir Français du Thé.

 

Pyramid-shaped tea bags

Pyramid tea bags

Pyramid-shaped tea bags are perfect for getting the maximum flavours out of your tea. The tea leaves can float around more freely and in a larger space, giving a result similar to infusing loose leaf tea. In other words, pyramid tea bags allow the tea to develop its full aromatic range. In this case, it is also better to go for muslin or gauze tea bags to get the very best out of your tea.

Pyramid tea bags and sachets are available from brands such as Compagnie Coloniale, Pure Leaf or Lipton.

Final advice about tea bags

I would always recommend tea bags made of muslin fabric: they will offer you an infusion of quality, very close to one made using loose leaf tea but with the advantage of being easier to make and more convenient. Without a doubt, a muslin sachet is the best solution to unlock your tea’s full aromatic potential.

Don’t forget that it is also crucial to respect the water temperature and infusion time advised for the type of tea you are using (green tea, black tea…). You can read all about the different teas in our previous article: ‘Green tea, black tea or white tea: what’s the difference?‘.

All that remains is for me to invite you to explore the wide range of tea bags and sachets available at MaxiCoffee.com. Happy tasting!

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Céline

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