Sunday, June 5, 2011

Packaging and storage of Tea

Packaging of Tea

Tea bags

In 1907, American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan began distributing samples of his tea in small bags of Chinese silk with a drawstring. Consumers noticed that they could simply leave the tea in the bag and re-use it with fresh tea. However, the potential of this distribution/packaging method would not be fully realized until later on. During World War II, tea was rationed. In 1953 (after rationing in the UK ended), Tetley launched the tea bag to the UK and it was an immediate success.

Tea leaves are packed into a small envelope (usually composed of paper) known as a tea bag. The use of tea bags is easy and convenient, making tea bags popular for many people today. However, the tea used in tea bags has an industry name—it is called fannings or "dust" and is the waste product produced from the sorting of higher quality loose leaf tea, although this certainly is not true for all brands of tea, especially in the case of many specialty, high quality teas now available in bag form.[citation needed] It is commonly held among tea aficionados that this method provides an inferior taste and experience. The paper used for the bag can also be tasted by many, which can detract from the tea's flavor. Because fannings and dust are a lower quality of the tea to begin with, the tea found in tea bags is less finicky when it comes to brewing time and temperature.

Additional reasons why bag tea is considered less well-flavored include:

Dried tea loses its flavor quickly on exposure to air. Most bag teas (although not all) contain leaves broken into small pieces; the great surface area to volume ratio of the leaves in tea bags exposes them to more air, and therefore causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces, or to be entirely intact.

Breaking up the leaves for bags extracts flavored oils.

The small size of the bag does not allow leaves to diffuse and steep properly.

Some tea bags are made using a wet paper strength-reinforcing coating using epichlorohydrin, a known carcinogen.

Pyramid tea bags

The "pyramid tea bag," introduced by Lipton and PG Tips/Scottish Blend in 1996, has a unique design that addresses one of connoisseurs' arguments against paper tea bags, because its three-dimensional tetrahedron shape allows more room for tea leaves to expand while steeping. However, some types of pyramid tea bags have been criticized as being environmentally unfriendly, since their synthetic material does not break down in landfills as loose tea leaves and paper tea bags do. This type of tea bag is also called a sachet by other brands.

Loose tea 

The tea leaves are packaged loosely in a canister or other container. Rolled gunpowder tea leaves, which resist crumbling, are commonly vacuum packed for freshness in aluminized packaging for storage and retail. The portions must be individually measured by the consumer for use in a cup, mug, or teapot. This allows greater flexibility, letting the consumer brew weaker or stronger tea as desired, but convenience is sacrificed. Strainers, "tea presses," filtered teapots, and infusion bags are available commercially to avoid having to drink the floating loose leaves and to prevent over-brewing. A more traditional, yet perhaps more efficient way around this problem is to use a three-piece lidded teacup, called a gaiwan. The lid of the gaiwan can be tilted to decant the leaves while pouring the tea into a different cup for consumption.

Compressed tea

Some teas (particularly Pu-erh tea) are still compressed for transport, storage, and aging convenience. The tea brick remains in use in the Himalayan countries. The tea is prepared and steeped by first loosening leaves off the compressed cake using a small knife. Compressed teas can usually be stored for longer periods of time without spoilage when compared with loose leaf tea.

Instant tea

In recent times, "instant teas" are becoming popular, similar to freeze dried instant coffee. Similar products also exist for instant iced tea, due to the convenience of not requiring boiling water. Instant tea was developed in the 1930s, but not commercialized until later. Nestea introduced the first instant tea in 1946, while Redi-Tea introduced the first instant iced tea in 1953.

These products often come with added flavors, such as vanilla, honey or fruit, and may also contain powdered milk. Tea connoisseurs tend to criticize these products for sacrificing the delicacies of tea flavor in exchange for convenience.

 Canned tea

Canned tea was first launched in 1981 in Japan. As such, it is a fairly recent innovation, and it has mostly benefits in marketing. 

Storage of tea 



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