“Where are the tea bags?” or “I’d like to try your teas but what if I don’t make it the right way.” is heard at our market booth almost every week. The reasons are many and lie in our culture and the marketing of tea…. Most Americans (myself included) have been raised drinking tea made from little bags of tea, over-steeped and served with heavy doses of cream and sugar to cover the bitterness of bad tea. Packaged in bright yellow boxes and standing in tidy little rows with pretty little paper wrappers and tags, our tea waited for us. For many of us this was (and is) TEA.
Convenience, cost, and brilliant marketing led us down this sad path of drinking poor quality tea—or ‘dust’….
But who hasn’t bought a certain brand of tea just for cute teddy bears on the box, free mugs or those cute little porcelain figurines of whales, hats, ect?
Ahem… you’re not alone…one of these boxes also sits in my kitchen cupboard! I know… I KNOW… I can hear you GASP in dismay!! (Sorry, friends but I just couldn’t resist that little tea chest hidden in the box! And I just love the lemur on the other box of what my family calls ‘contraband’)….
I can hear you… what does this have to do with tea bags and why am I rambling about them? It’s just a little tea bag after all you say… NOT SO FAST!
Did you know that one large tea corporation can produce 3-4 MILLION tea bags in ONE DAY?!? Yes.. in 1 DAY! That’s near 2 BILLION by 1 COMPANY A YEAR!!! Why so many? One clue is offered by the Tea Association of the United States which estimates that Americans are increasing their tea consumption to over 84 BILLION SERVINGS of tea per year and nearly 96% in tea bags! That’s a lot of tea bags in our landfills !!!
The most popular tea bag style is the Pyramid bag. This nifty little bag is touted as ‘silky infusers’ that will improve the infusion of your tea. Well, guess what my friends… unless the box reads 100% cornstarch or other natural biodegradable material… these and many other popular tea bags are PLASTIC! Yes plastic!! Polypropylene and other yucky stuff that doesn’t biodegrade or belong in your tea cup!
Second…these tea bags do not make your tea taste better. That is up to the quality of the tea! Tea is affected by so many variables and is DYNAMIC. Everything impacts its taste… weather, soil composition, the roll the tea master decides for that harvest, and even how the leaves were handpicked impact the tea in your cup…. We weren’t meant to sip tea that brings us the same taste from the same tea year after year! (Hint: Nature’s efforts with tea plants doesn’t work that way either!) But that’s another blog post! Until then… Via la difference!
Besides the environment why should you choose loose-leaf teas? Loose leaf teas are steeped in tea pots or large infusers with room for the leaves and other ingredients like orange peel and ginger to ‘blossom’. This allows the leaves to absorb water and expand to fully impart their flavors, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing loose leaf tea also gives you a higher quality of tea and freedom.. to choose the strength of your tea!
At The Little Tea Cart we are diligent about providing you with high quality organic teas but also limiting our environmental impact. Our loose leaf teas are packaged using unbleached kraft bags and labels with 85% or more post-consumer recycled content.
The ‘DIY’ tea bags that we do offer are made with 100% natural materials, unbleached and compostable. (I’ve tested them and break down in my compost took less than 2 weeks!) We also carry reusable infusers and cotton tea bags large enough for your loose-leaf teas to blossom! Our tea pots have infusers and strainers built into the pot! We even offer a discount at the markets when you refill a tea tin, jar, or other container with our teas! And yes- we do offer teas in small jars like our sniffer jars instead of Kraft bags but we recommend you pre-order because they sell out FAST!
Tea has been made for thousands of years– and without a tea bag until 1903! The only steeping tools you really need (besides hot water of course!) are a simple tea pot, a cup and loose leaf tea!
After all how can you read your future without a few leaves in your cuppa!