Thursday, February 14, 2008

Teabags, an epic quest

So for a while I've been toying with teabags, trying to find a good solution for tea on the go and at the office. I ended up just bringing in a teapot to the office though. But nonetheless I endeavored onto this epic quest and felt that I should document some of it. So I felt I would start by taking a look at some of the styles of teabags that I have seen.

The first thing that I take a look at in a teabag is the material. There are two predominant types of material that I have seen recently.

1) Paper - Good old paper. Tried and true, it's been around since the beginning of teabags. The downside of paper is that it absorbs some of the flavor and you can't really see the tea very well. Paper is also not very forgiving for water to flow through the teabag. On the upside, paper is cheap and biodegradable.
2) Silken / Poly - This is a material that I don't really know how to define it since I can't find much information about the material itself. It is being used in most newer tea bag companies now, and it is reported to be biodegradable. The material does not absorb water, it is a mesh that allows for rather good water flow, but does not dump material into your cup, and is biodegradable. The downside is that i'm sure this material isn't as easy to produce as regular filter paper and is more expensive.

The second thing to look for in a teabag is the shape of the teabag. In my recent experience there are a few different shapes of teabags floating around nowdays.

1) Satchel - At least that's the closest of a name that I can think of to name them, this is the traditional shape of a teabag, folded closed at the top, accordion fold at the bottom. The two side views resemble a triangle and a square when you look at it from the side and the front respectively. If you want to think of an example, think of the traditional Lipton teabag.
2)Pod - The second type of teabag that I have run across is the pod shape, for well you guessed it, pod brewing devices. These are small round teabags that fit into the pod brewing devices normally used for that other less graceful beverage.
3) Tetrahedron - The tetrahedron shape of teabags is getting quite popular among the higher end companies that generate teabags. These are often referred to as pyramid style teabags, but in fact are not pyramids. They have only 4 points to them.
4) Pyramid - This is a true pyramid shaped teabag, and there is only a few companies I have ever seen use these. The packaging does take up more space for them, but they are very nice to see.

Next up is packaging. There are many types of packaging used to store teabags and this does matter when selecting a teabag.

1) Individually wrapped - Individually wrapped teabags are best, since air is only exposed to one teabag at a time and only when you open the teabag. The best wrapping is airtight and UV blocking. This often takes the form of mylar packaging to prevent light and air from being exposed to the tea.
2) Resealable container - More often than not, not all teabags are individually wrapped. This tends to be more environmentally friendly, but exposes the teabags to more air. This is a better solution if you are using the same teabags frequently and go through them in a rather fast manner.

Finally you should look at the tea itself. Most people who read this blog though should know what to look for in the leaves themselves. Although it is frequent and common to see tea that is actually dust or brushings. Teabags are often the place where these end up.

Now with all of that in mind, let's try to find some good teabag tea. Although I probably won't be picking up much of the more common teabags up for review (read Lipton).

1 comment:

BASSARO said...

I have been read all of your articles. Especially your Japanese tea review is really impressive and exactly to the point.
I have a solution for the teabag called "drip bag". I would like to send you a samples and like you to review it. Please give me a reply on the mail form above.