Green tea bags are often looked upon as being of low quality. After all, they are made from the smallest bits and pieces of tea – the dusts and fannings – after the most choice parts of tea leaves and buds had been used to make the quality loose leaves green tea. The dusts are the tiniest bits whereas the fannings are the small broken pieces of leaves. The left- overs, if you will. Rather uncomplimentary I might say.
Objections to the tea bag
So, what do people have against green teabags? Can their objections be refuted?
Tea infused from the fannings and dusts is so much less satisfying as it does not give us the full flavor that one can get from preparing the beverage with loose leaf green tea. Also, tea contained in a teabag has no room to expand in order to bring out its best flavor.
If you do not want the dusts and fannings, you might be glad to know that there are also teabags that actually contain loose leaves. To counter the argument that there is insufficient space inside a teabag for the leaves to be properly infused, merchants have now come up with what is called the pyramid teabag. If you set one on a table, it sits upright on its square base. There seems to be much merit in the argument for these pyramid teabags, as opposed to the traditional flat rectangular ones, in that the extra space in the bag allows the tea to be properly infused so as to release more of its flavor and aroma.
The bag is usually made of paper which is attached by a string to a tag at the other end. During the brewing, some tea lovers claim that the paper actually alter the flavor of the beverage. Some may find it annoying that the tag itself sometimes get into their cups of hot tea. I can remember, probably two decades ago, when the tag was attached to the string by means of a metal staple and it got into my tea. Although the stapled tag is now probably a thing of the past, the tag sometimes still stray into our cups.
Before drinking, it’s best to remove the teabag after steeping it. And, nowadays teabags also come in the form of silk, nylon and even corn starch.
Low Antioxidants Content
As compared to loose leaves, green tea bags contain less of the polyphenols catechins which are responsible for much of the health benefits of green tea.
With teabags containing loose leaves, I think this objection now carries much less sting.
Come to think of it, the green tea bag is actually more expensive because a big part of the cost goes into the packaging of the product. This is especially so if you consider that whereas the bag is normally for only one single infusion, you can have many infusions with loose leaves.
Probably, as with most things in life, convenience comes at a price.
The advantages of green tea bags
But before you go about dismissing that green tea bag too hastily, it has its advantages too.
The Ease and Convenience in making tea
When you wake up in the morning and getting ready for work, probably the last thing on your mind is boiling water and getting ready your kettle and cup to prepare tea from loose leaves. If you are relying on just that single cup of green tea for that “caffeine fix” to face the day, chances are that you will quickly reach out for that bag, toss it into a cup and infuse it with hot water from the dispenser. And you have your tea. (Green tea bags also contain a high level of caffeine.) There seems to be no faster way in getting that cuppa first thing in the morning.
It’s true you might be able to do the same with loose leaves, again by putting the leaves in the cup and getting hot water from the dispenser. But with loose leaves, you are looking at at least 3 infusions. Would you be going through all the infusions before rushing off to work? But most tea bags are good only for that one infusion, after which you can dispose of it. I think you got the point. Besides, when you are making green tea from loose leaf, you might prefer to make it properly to bring the best out in the beverage, paying attention to the right water temperature and so on. You can read my article on brewing green tea, in which I discussed probably the best way to make that one cuppa from loose leaves.
As compared to a container of loose leaves, they are also easier to bring along when you are traveling. Just like loose leaf, they come in a wide variety of products. If you do not like the high content of caffeine, then there are those decaf green tea bags. Then, there are those which are organic as well as the flavored ones.
Green tea bags leave no mess to clean up
One thing which many dread is having to clean out the used leaves from the teapot after the brew. With a teabag, there is no mess left behind to clean up and it can be easily disposed of. Instead of simply discarding the used green tea bags, some have even put them to better use such as relieving tired and puffy eyes.
Some tea lovers will still insist on making their green tea from loose leaves. But, certainly the humble tea bag has its place in the tea drinking world mainly for its convenience. The more so when we now can have loose leaves in bags. So, in my opinion, I would say that teabags are not all that bad. It all depends on our intention. If you want something quick and easy, then use the teabag. I still have some green tea bags around in my office and I always remember to put some in my briefcase whenever I have to make that short business trip. But, if you want to have a more enjoyable and fuller experience with green tea, then loose leaves is the way to go.