I'm not going to name names here, but you know that bag of tea you've had in the pantry for a couple of months? The one you bought because Blue Raspberry Delight tea sounded fantastic as you cruised the grocery store aisles? Take it out, cut it open, and dump it on your kitchen counter. Let me tell you what you're looking at: tea dust. At least, that's what we call those miniscule particles of tea that came out of the bag.
Now grab the nearest sachet of tea you have — you know what I mean by "sachet," right? Like a bag, but really more of a pyramid-shaped pouch, that probably cost you a bit more. Rip it open at the seam and dump the contents on the counter (you don't want to, but this is a learning opportunity.) Here's what you're looking at now: larger pieces of tea — in fact, they look more like dried leaves than the chopped up stuff you got out of the tea bag.
You suspect this difference (and the price) means your sachet is a higher quality tea, but you're really not certain. Hey — tea is tea, right? Does it matter what shape it's in, if you're just going to dunk it in hot water?
Yeah, it matters. In fact, it's one of the reasons our tea company was created in the first place. Around the turn of the 21st century (nine years ago, that is), these new fangled tea pouches called sachets arrived in the marketplace. Our founder, Richard Rosenfeld, had been traveling around South Asia for work and was drinking a lot of tea, but having a hard time finding a great cuppa tea once he got back to the states. And then he saw the new sachets. "I thought it looked like a great way to serve tea," he says.
He was right. As he described it to me the other day, drinking tea made from any old tea bag is like drinking jug wine. It has flavor, and that's about it. But a sachet filled with larger pieces of tea that have room to expand in hot water is chock full of big flavor. Specifically, it has what Richard calls a top note, middle note, and finish. It's a full taste experience, not just a taste.
Have you ever read the back of our boxes? They say things like "Top Note: Slightly tangy; Middle note: Smooth and rich; Finish: Sweet berry." And that's just our Organic Pomi-berry. Makes me want to nibble on the box while waiting for the water to boil.
And I also find it fun to check out the tea sachet before and after steeping. Before: a half-full bag of dried tea and other stuff (fruit pieces, flowers, etc.). After: presto chango, a full bag of expanded tea leaves, herbs and spices. Awesome.
"What a shock — this blog is trying to convince me that two leaves and a bud tea sachets are better than tea bags," you think. Well, then I'll take a minute to point out that lots of tea companies have jumped on the sachet bandwagon. Not so long ago one of the biggest tea companies in the world — Lipton — started offering a line of tea in sachets. Richard says it was a clear sign that sachets have achieved acceptance among consumers.
And what about that expense thing? I'm not going to lie to you. Putting tea in biodegradable silken pouches instead of bags made from bleached wood and vegetable fibers ain't cheap. But it's not expensive, either. "We try to price our teas as an everyday luxury," Richard told me. "You might not mind paying 50 cents for a sachet of tea, just as you wouldn't think twice about spending two bucks for a beer." He's right — in fact sometimes I don't think twice about spending $4.50 on a beer. I like my microbrews. Sure beats jug wine.
Stay tuned: The next blog post will have photos of a new Fuso machine in Sri Lanka, where our sachets of tea are packed as close to the source as possible.
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