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Musings on Tea Bags

By Maureen Cooper, Wooragee Landcare

The other morning I was suffering with very sore knees from lifting my Grandson, aged six, up to the monkey bars so he could copy his older brother and swing from bar to bar.  My knees are my weakest part so I was sitting in bed enjoying my cup of green tea and I started to think about tea bags, as one does.

I had become lazy over the years of living alone and mostly used tea bags instead of my lovely teapots.  Recently I purchased a mug from The Essential Utensil, a kitchen shop in Albury,  which has a metal lift out sieve to put your whole leaves in and a lid to help it brew.    The tea had a much rounder flavour because the natural oils are released from the whole leaves during the longer brewing time.  The tea in tea bags is really the dust and tiny fragments from the drying process of the whole leaves so you don’t have to brew it for very long.

I then looked at the composition of the tea bag material.  I knew that in the past they could contain bleach but with the discovery of oxygen bleaching the product was much better.  However I discovered that many of the teabags, particularly the pyramid ones, are made from nylon while some are made of viscose rayon, and others are made of thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene which can leach plastic chemicals into your tea steeped through heated  plastic.

The other bad news is that paper tea bags may be just as bad, or worse, than the plastic ones because many of them are treated with epichlorohydrin to seal the edges.  This is a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins.  This compound is also used as a pesticide.  This rather turned me off any more tea bag tea.  Have I turned everyone off their morning cuppa?

I have now decided to only buy whole leaf tea which guarantees no pesticide residues or tannic acid and is low in caffeine.  Australian Daintree Tea fits this bill but does not have green tea.  The economics also shows that high quality loose black or green tea is much cheaper than tea bags.  With tea bags you don’t pay for the quality of tea, you pay for the packaging and then you throw it all away.