Unraveling the Fibers of Silken Tea Bags

TWEET: Nylon versus corn-based PLA – Which tea sachet material will become the fiber of choice
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3 responses to “Unraveling the Fibers of Silken Tea Bags”

  1. I never really thought about this issue until I read some of the recent news stories but it’s definitely something worth considering. There are a few companies that offer woven cotton fabric tea bags and I have been turning to those when I’m on the go.

  2. The irony here is that tea bags themselves are a product of the mass convenience consumerism that broke out in the 1950s. When we look at the history of tea bags and how they came to be used everywhere what we really see is nothing more than a cultural extension that the big tea companies came up with decades ago.

    I find it ironic that you write, “Because of their physically attractive qualities and their association with luxury tea products, it is unlikely that the nylon or the PLA tea pouches and sachets are going away soon.” For a luxury product, because of tea bags we don’t actually engage with the food product itself and we loose out on the sensory aspect of it. Think of all the things in grocery stores, luxury items are not encased in a wrapping you are not meant to remove. The closest cousin to tea bag tea is boil-in-the-bag rice. Every other item in the grocery store is something you get to unwrap, measure, handle, smell, touch and experience. Not so with luxury tea brands where it is a cheap, boil-in-the-bag experience. I rather feel that luxury tea brands need to start moving their customers in the direction of actually knowing how to brew their tea properly (which is actually pretty easy and totally biodegradable).

    I also stand firmly in the camp that tends to use tea bags to start campfires (except those plastic tea bags – mom always said that burning plastic was toxic…)

    • I completely agree with you Peter that these are an extension or evolution of tea bags. They were designed for convenience and I believe their primary intent was to offer an improvement on the standard bags. We began with square paper filter bags and then round bags were the exciting new development. These new sachets are the latest offering.

      I would not argue with your point that most “luxury” products favor greater emphasis on the quality of the foodstuff. What we need to remember is that one of the reasons these sachets were developed was to address just that issue. Traditional tea bags restricted contents to CTC teas and they were often fairly low quality at that. The sachets gave companies the opportunity to explore using whole leaf and higher quality teas that would have room to expand and the intent was to make them visible to the user. As I stated to another reader, I think most of us purists believe that loose tea in an infuser or loose in a pot or gaiwan is superior, but there must be an acknowledgement that there is a large population of consumers who will always want the convenience of a sachet or bag. The question is whether or not this form factor gets us closer to the real deal.

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