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The T-Sac Filter

What's in Your Tea Bag?



The T-Sac tea bag filter

Tn today’s bustling society, the teabag is an essential convenience. Thomas Lipton of Lipton Tea, who patented the Flo-Thru Teabag in 1952, knew this and made a fortune from it. But, what’s inside those little bags holding your tea? And with some made from hand-sewn silk muslin bags, others from see-through nylon, does the sachet indeed make a difference?

A bag with enough space for the tea to infuse properly is a sound alternative to loose-leaf tea that requires brewing in a teapot or cup. Teabags are efficient, convenient and easy to dispose of.

However, teabags are constrictive and prohibit the leaves from opening, unfolding and releasing their delightful flavor. They often contain tea of inferior quality that tends to release tannin, making it taste bitter or harsh, especially if steeped too long.

Tea is harvested using either the conventional Orthodox Method of hand-picking and processing the leaves or by the Crushing, Tearing, Curling (CTC) Method, a mechanized technique for bulk processing the leaves.

The tea in most teabags is made with the CTC Method in which machines rip and shred the leaves using a roller with thorn-like pins. The plant stems and twigs, and broken pieces of leaves, are ground into fannings and tea dust. It is the resulting shredded leaf pieces, fannings and tea dust that are used in most commercial teabags. It is a harsh process, causing degradation of the tea and a loss in flavor.

The Orthodox Method is a complex process done mostly by hand. It involves the careful selection of the tealeaves to be plucked, normally from the top of the bush, and their grading according to rigid standards prior to further processing. Most knowledgeable tea drinkers prefer this method and have little interest in CTC tea, since it does not allow for the careful, high-quality treatment they feel tealeaves deserve.

The CTC Method does have an important, legitimate role in the tea industry. It allows for the rapid processing of large volumes of leaves. For certain varieties of leaf, it is the preferred and least expensive processing method.

For the true tea-lover, the taste of loose-leaf tea is far superior to that in teabags, with only a few exceptions. Plus, loose-leaf teas are brewed right in a teapot or cup, giving the leaves room to open and unfold, releasing their full taste for the tea-lover’s pleasure and enjoyment.

A happy compromise is the inexpensive, fully-portable T-Sac Filter. It’s large enough for loose-leaf teas to unfold and open naturally, releasing their full flavor. Tea drinkers can take them anywhere, along with a pinch or two of their favorite tea, and enjoy all the convenience offered by conventional tea bags.

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(Updated: 09/28/10 AR)

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