The tea bag itself has three major components: shape, material, and ease of use.

Tea bags have been a popular way to consume tea for more than 100 years now. The original hand sewn fabric bags may no longer be on the market, but there are now more options than ever for how to make simple tea bag tea. We’re about to breakdown the variables that make one tea bag different from another and take a closer look at the anatomy of tea bags.

The tea bag itself has three major components: shape, material, and ease of use. Shape is the most obvious, and generally the most important.


Generally more volume is better for larger leaves. This is because dry tea is usually shaped (curled or rolled). As the hot water penetrates the dry leaves, the leaves unfurl and stretch out their ends.

If the leaves cannot completely unfurl–as in the case of smaller bags–then the covered parts of the leaf are not giving up much flavor. This means one part of the leaf is being over-steeped while the other parts are under-steeped. This leads to an overall less flavorful tea with more ‘muddied’ flavors.

Tea bag shapes can range from two dimensional squares and circles to 3-dimensional cubes and pyramids. Although any three-dimensional shape should give good bag volume, pyramids are the most efficient use of materials, and are thus the most prevalent 3-d shape.


The tea bag material is important for two reasons. First, bags can deaden taste. Some paper bags can impart a slight paper taste that overall lessen the quality of the tea. Thinner bags reduce this problem, but experience shows a certain number of them break open in your cup, especially if used to make iced tea in coffee shops. Better quality tea bags are often made using nylon or silk. Both materials can be used to make tea bags with larger volumes that won’t break.

The second reason is how environmentally friendly the bag production is. More carefully-made bags are biodegradable and many are made out of recycled materials.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is fairly self explanatory. It is easier to add and remove a teabag from a cup when it has a stable string. Many cheaper tea bags do not have a string, and while this can be overcome without difficulty, it does detract significantly from the convenience of the bag.



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