Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Turning over a new leaf

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
pyramid-shape pouches hold longer tea leaves.

Tea’s Got a Brand New Bag

Published: September 13, 2006

THE tea bag, a clever enough idea at first, went terribly awry somewhere along the way, at least in the view of people who love to savor their tea. Now it is in the process of large-scale reinvention, and some of those who currently shun it with almost ostentatious disdain are very likely to be won over.

At age 100 or so, the old bag is increasingly being filled with fine whole leaf tea, the kind connoisseurs brew in their teapots, and the bag itself has been redesigned in shapes that are not only elegant but constructed to allow those flavorful leaves to show what they’ve got.

With tea sales in the United States now four times what they were a decade ago — about $6.2 billion annually, according to the Tea Association of the USA, a trade group — the American tea drinker seems ready for a change for the better.

The change, some say, is overdue. Look closely at a conventional tea bag in your cupboard or in the paper cup from the local deli. Chances are that instead of leaves it is filled with indistinguishable bits, the detritus left after tea leaves are sifted and graded. The tea industry calls it dust, and the beverage it makes is likely to be rusty-looking and often bitterly tannic. But it no longer has to be, nor is it necessary to brew a whole pot of tea to achieve something better tasting.

Perhaps the surest sign that the tea world is changing is this: Lipton, the world’s largest tea company and a division of Unilever, will start selling tea bags containing long leaf teas in supermarkets nationwide next month.

Instead of paper, the leaves will be enveloped by nylon mesh bags in a delicate pyramid shape.

Lipton is following the lead of American businesses like Harney & Sons, Mighty Leaf, Adagio and the Highland Tea Company, which for several years have sold tea bags filled with high-quality full-leaf teas, ones with complex, often floral, herbaceous, spicy or fruity nuances.

Smelling a trend, new companies, like Revolution Tea, Numi Tea, Two Leaves and a Bud, and Tea Forté, have formed expressly to sell fine teas in tea bags. Harrisons & Crosfield, from England, and the luxury Parisian tea purveyors Le Palais des Thés and Mariage Frères have also introduced tea bags.

“We decided to put some of our teas in tea bags because that’s the way most people drink tea,” said Wanja Michuki, the president of the Highland Tea Company, in Montclair, N.J., which sells fine teas from Kenya, the leading exporter of tea worldwide.

James Wong, a Unilever vice president and general manager of Lipton, in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., said the company’s research showed that “every consumer is becoming a gourmand.’’

“They want long leaf tea, but they can be intimidated by buying and brewing it,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to simplify it, making it convenient and accessible, and it’s appealing to new consumers as well as tea lovers.”

Lipton’s new line, called Pyramid, took the company two years to develop. It offers six varieties of long leaf tea, all but one flavored with bits of dried fruit or other seasonings. Only Black Pearl, a black tea blend, is unflavored.

“Consumers have reacted positively to the flavorings,” said John Cheetham, Lipton’s Royal Estates tea master, who selects and blends teas. “And we have Black Pearl to appeal to the purist.”

Good tea is like good coffee, a luxury to be savored. It's also very hard to find. Starbucks has some abomination they call tea, but you have to hunt down boutiques to get a real cup of tea. Ridiculous. If you're lucky, you can go to Juan Valdez in the city and get a decent cup, and Chock Full of Nuts is still on 32nd and 6th in the park. But tea, real tea, is nearly impossible to find in a normal restaurant.

Yes, I like whole leaf tea, but it does become tiresome to make when you just want a cup of tea for your Pop Tarts.

posted by Steve @ 12:15:00 AM

12:15:00 AM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans