Pyramid Tea Bags: Useful or Gimicky???
New to Steepster and very happy to have found other people who also seem to like tea.
I have had a debate with myself for a couple of years about pyramid teabags. They are advertized as having all the virtues of loose leaf tea and none of the downsides of the traditional bag. I’ve tried a few different companies who sell them with mixed results. Surprisingly, two or three of the Lipton teas produced a decent cup. Other sellers, it didn’t really seem to help.
I firmly believe a good tea will produce a good cup no matter how you steep the tea, but I’d like to know what others think. Are pyramid tea bags really an improvement and why or why not?
I had some of Adagio’s teas in pyramid teabags (silver needle, dragonwell, tieguanyin, and a couple others I don’t rem ember), and the thing I liked about that type of teabag was it allowed for the use of whole leaves instead of the typical teabag contents.
I know its not the same as regular loose leaf tea but it’s nice for a convenient cup of good tea. I haven’t tried any other brands though so I might have just gotten lucky.
Pyramid tea bags allow the tea to expand and breath much better than traditional tea bags. The original muslin tea bags were designed to house ‘tea dust,’ or what you would normally get with Lipton or Bigelow. When companies began putting whole leaves in the bags, they realized that the pyramid design would allow the leaves to open up more fully rather than being constricted by the original design. If you’re interested in reading more about tea bags, I wrote about them a while back on my blog, http://www.thelooseleaves.com/post/1082444284/history-lesson-the-tea-bag.
I think I’ve only ever had pyramid sachets from Harney and Sons and Tea Forte. In the case of Tea Forte, I found the taste and quality to be lacking but I think that is just the quality of their product as opposed to a fault of the sachet. As for Harney, I found the flavour/quality of leaf fairly similar to their loose leaf version that I also tried BUT I prefer loose leaf so I can decide how much leaf I want to steep. I find the sachets generally don’t contain enough leaf, then I have to use two, but that’s too much, blah blah. Also the leaf does still seem to break down more (or perhaps already be more broken down) than loose but again, that is an issue of quality with the company. If I want bagged loose leaf, I use T-Sacs, mine are big enough to allow a lot of expansion room.
I really like pyramid sachets for traveling, and I absolutely think they are a dramatic improvement over regular tea bags. I like that the pyramid sachets (at least the ones I’ve used: Harney, two leaves and a bud, a few others) seem to be a kind of fine netting instead of a porous paper, which I think lets the water flow more freely around the leaves, not to mention prevents the manufacturers from filling up sachets with tea dust. I feel like I have to dunk a tea bag to get the flavors to come out. I have “bagged” loose leaf in t-sacs before as well, but I don’t like that papery material they’re made out of (like a normal tea bag).
I know others often say there’s a dramatic difference between Harney & Sons sachets versus their loose leaf, but honestly I haven’t noticed when the same amount of leaf is used each time. I do wonder if what Uniquity mentioned about using different amounts of leaf than you would with a sachet accounts for a lot of it.
I enjoy some of the pyramid tea bags, but I completely agree with Uniquity – sometimes the tea quality is lacking, and therefore the flavor is eh.
I actually bought some pyramid bags on the cheap and cut them up, using the loose tea inside for my own personal blends (NOT the ones I sell in my shop). Worked in a pinch.
Wow! You’re my kind of tea drinker. Cannibalize the pyramid bags to approximate loose leaf. You must have been in a war zone or had to parachute out of burning plane into the arctic or something. But in a perverse way I like it. :-)
And it has given me an idea for a new topic.
I’ve been known to get out of bad situations using items I can find for my survival, yes. ;) A Tea Maverick, my sister-in-law calls me. I feel more like Fiona on Burn Notice, although not nearly as hot! ;)
Do pyramid tea bags make a difference? Yes.
Is it worth it and are you going to notice it? Not necessarily.
I’ve long since given up drinking bagged tea, except when I am out and at someone else’s mercy of what they have and that’s usually Lipton :(, but I haven’t seen full leaf tea in traditional bags. So your leaf quality is probably going to be better than traditional bags.
Also it also more movement of water through the leaves and room for leaf expansion, thus generally a fuller, better balanced, more evenly brewed cup.
The thing about those bags that has always concerned me is that they appeared to be glued closed, I really hope that isn’t the case but it does make me nervous. Never have contacted a company to find out for sure though, like I said I have quit using bags. But that would make me shy away from using them.
As far as good tea making a good cup of tea no matter how you steep it. That’s kinda like saying good lumber is going to make a good house no matter how you build it. Sure its important but so is the skill of the craftsman.
Thanks for the reply and the insight. Regarding your last comment, I apparently wasn’t clear enough. The point I wanted to make is exactly as you say. To use you’re own analogy of the carpenter, a skilled builder can make a good house regardless of the tools available if the builder has good materials. (Probably while drinking Builder’s Brew). :-) I’ll try to be clearer in future.
I don’t think they’re glued. I think they’re a fine polyester mesh a lot of the time (plastic) and are basically melted/sealed closed; like you would melt the end of a fraying piece of polyester twine. Now, whether that actually makes you feel better…. ;)
I prefer loose leaf tea over anything in a bag, whether it be a pyramid sachet or traditional folded tea bag, or some other thing that ultimately is a tea bag. That being said, there are some decent tea bags and tea sachets out there. I do not agree with this statement: “They are advertized as having all the virtues of loose leaf tea and none of the downsides of the traditional bag.”
Having tried both sachet and loose leaf versions of the same tea, I know this to be false. One of the downsides of the traditional bag is that it loses some of its flavor during processing, and perhaps this is why the flavors of the sachet are not equal to the flavors of loose leaf.
However, I do think that there are times when the convenience of a tea bag (or sachet) makes for enough of an argument to brew a bagged tea over loose leaf. And when I do brew bagged tea, I find myself preferring the sachets to the traditional teabags, simply because the sachets seem to allow for more room for the tea leaves to unfurl and expand.
Does anyone else get a papery taste from standard tea bags? If my options are limited to bagged tea, I typically go with an herbal/rooibos or nothing. These seem harder to go wrong with, and the lack of room to expand doesn’t matter. But, even for herbals I do prefer whatever is usually described as a “sachet”, often a pyramid infuser, because I get a paper taste from a lot of regular bags.
Yes, Jessie, sometimes I do get a papery taste from the cheaper tea producers. Loose leaf avoids a lot of evils.
I haven’t honestly tried pyramid sachets but I’m not overly fond of circular ones. : / They cause even more trauma than the everyday kind. Normally they are too big to fit into my cup without squishing them on the side of it.
I think that the overall idea of the pyramid bag (more room) sounds like an improvement. But I still think that the only bagged teas I’ll continually pay money for is the cheap mints I buy.