Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bags of Tea.

Tea aficionados sneer at tea-bags. I don’t. I am a tea lover, and as long as the tea itself is good, I don’t care if it is in bags, or not. I only care if there is no tea. The early commercial tea bags suffered from bad publicity, which was no doubt well deserved, but which from which they have never fully recovered. They were said to be filled with the debris of the tea processing business, and I have no reason to disbelieve the story.  Modern  tea-bags however can contain fine tea, honestly, they can.

Initially their role (and packaging) were quite different. Tea merchants in the early twentieth century (or maybe earlier) packed small samples of their product in tiny bags of silk or muslin. It was expected that the customer would empty the tea out of the bag before brewing and tasting the beverage. Someone, somewhere, for some reason not known to us (but probably someone simply dangerously desperate for a cuppa) just dumped it bag and all into the pot. And the rest, as they say, is food history.

Some of the bad reputation of tea bags comes from the bag itself. Since the glorious days of fine silk fabric, they have been made from specially-treated paper and plastics. Some of those plastics are not nice. On the other hand, some of the paper bags are now un-bleached and therefore very ‘green.’
What will you drink with your tea, bagged or not?

Italian Tea Biscuits.
Take the same mixture as for Savoy biscuits, make them in round drops with the bag and funnel, on whited brown paper; vary them by putting on the tops of some a few currants, on others a few blanched sweet almonds chopped small, a little citron or lemon peel cut small, or a few caraway seeds; dust the tops with sugar; and bake them in a moderate oven. When baked, wet the paper, take them off, and put the bottoms of two together.
About two hundred years since, the proportions for these cakes were: 1 lb. of sugar, 1 lb. of flour, 6 eggs, and ½ oz. of aniseeds in powder; dropped round on buttered tins, the tops being quite plain.
The complete biscuit and gingerbread baker's assistant, by George Read, 1854

Quotation of the Day.
Tea is such a magical product, perhaps even the eighth wonder of the world.
 H. Rahman


Judy said...

Like you I will take tea anyway I can get it. I'm not lacking much in tea making paraphernalia except I really want a samovar. I think that is the ultimate teapot.

chow and chatter said...

love your blog

J.W. said...

I've wondered before where the bag came into the picture! Fun post to start my morning...made me wish I wasn't out of tea.

The Old Foodie said...

Out of tea, Jesse! How on eartg could you allow that to happen?!