I don’t drink teabags. This isn’t some posh thing: I just don’t like the taste of the tea that they produce, and I think all tea bags pretty much taste the same. If convenience is an issue and I have to use a tea bag, I take the whole 15 seconds required and fill a paper tea filter with my favourite loose leaf.
According to the UK Tea Council, 96% of the tea drunk in Britain is made using tea bags.I personally find it disheartening that the introduction of tea bags and their subsequent rise in popularity crushed much of the UK loose leaf market starting in the 1970s. However, I do not judge people for liking tea bags, as I know they are accustomed to the flavour of that tea and find it comforting. On the rare occasion that I do drink an industrially-produced tea bag, I just don’t view it as tea, because it tastes nothing like the tea I know (it is sort of like Cheese Whiz compared to cheddar).
Amongst smaller UK tea companies, there appears to be various philosophies about whether or not to offer tea bags. A few tea company owners like Henrietta Lovell of Rare Tea Company and Timothy D’Offay of Postcard Teas seem to be staunchly against using tea bags. Henrietta is on a worthy crusade to ‘debag Britain‘, and I heard Timothy on BBC radio one day ever-so-politely telling the announcer that there really was no excuse/reason to ever drink tea bags. Other companies, such as The Tea Co, PekoeTea, Chateau Rouge and Char, also do not sell tea bags.
Some UK companies, such as Canton Tea Co, Jing, teapigs and Brew Tea Co, have decided to carry both loose leaf tea and ‘premium’ tea bags. Their tea bags, which are not made out of paper but some type of plastic or organic material (Canton and teapigs use cornstarch bags, for example), are filled with full-sized loose leaf tea. I am guessing for those companies that started out strictly loose leaf and decided to carry tea bags, the decision was two fold. First, they could grow their appeal to those customers who don’t want the ‘fuss’ of loose leaf teas but like nice tea, and they could increase profits. When customers pay at least £4 or £5 for a 15-bag box (and that is typically for an English breakfast blend, not nice green teas, which cost more), surely money is to be made.
It would be great to hear from you about the tea bag debate. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Or are you indifferent and drink whatever tea is available? What do you think about ‘premium’ tea bags? I would love for you to participate in my poll or write some comments on this post. You can view the results once you have voted.