The words that make every tea lovers’ hear sink. That someone in close proximity to you does not want to try your new tea.
I encounter this from time to time, most recently at work.
Now the reason I am dedicated a WHOLE blog post to this seemingly uneventful exchange, is that I think it sparks a number of interesting human traits worth exploring further.
First of all, I commend my colleague for being honest and up-front. He didn’t want to try my new Darjeeling.
And I’m ok with that.
But I can’t help feeling a little sad – not that there was all-the-more-tea-for-me of course… no travesty there – but that there must be so many people who never try anything outside of the usual iron filings that you find in a bog-standard teabag.
There seems to be great debate as to which iron filings are the best, and why. Brand identity is very strong amongst tea drinkers, and whether you prefer a pyramid bag, single cup teabag, or one with a string so that you can dangle it in your cup. Whether your teabag is compostable or not, whether it contains large amounts of plastic as is the current big environmental concern (as if it’s only just started to be a problem).
Don’t get me started.
The reality of how the iron filings made it into those teabags in the first place is a complex blending process, as revealed recently by the BBC series ‘Inside the Factory’. I did find it a little patronising in style, a little like a school educational video, but it was really interesting to see inside the factory process so I can’t knock it too much. Tea leaves were shown being imported, processed, and then tasted, blended and tasted again to ensure each tea bag maintained the signature flavour of that brand of tea.
So if your chosen iron filings (as delicious as they may be) become your go-to cuppa, you know that a lot of care and attention has been put into making sure it tastes just right.
I’ll be honest, we have a caddy for iron filings at home, because I know that not all of my friends want to try my loose leaf blends (in fact they’d probably prefer coffee) and I’m a social bean, so like to accommodate.
But knowing that tea bags are so often a blend of paper, plastic and cotton, and therefore that they are no longer compostable, makes me uncomfortable.
I’ll not go into detail here as there are better articles on how and what teabags are made from.
I’ll just say that according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, in the UK we use 158.4 million teabags every day.
That’s 96% of all the tea consumed in the UK.
In comparison, only 6.6 million cups of loose leaf tea are consumed.
So if you don’t often drink loose tea for whatever reason, and someone offers you the chance to try a new one, maybe re-consider and save that “I’ll stick to what I know” thought for when you’re faced with the decision of whether to try deep fried crickets over lemon cheescake…
I’m just about to tick into a new oolong. Here are some pics!