Tea is the world's favourite drink, it's hard to imagine the morning without a cup. In fact we love it so much that here in Britain we drink 165 million cups every day and 96% of these are brewed with tea bags.
Now you might not think much of the humble tea bag, but astonishingly the leaves that end up inside can come from as many as 20 different tea gardens and the average bag contains tea from up to six different countries. But how does the tea get into the bag?
Sacks of tea leaves are imported and lifted over a large container where they are spilt open and emptied into a big suction pipe which carries them away to blending drums, these drums can hold up to 2 tons of tea each and in one week alone can blend between 140 and 150 tons of tea. Once the leaves are inside they spin round exactly twelve times to ensure the blend is mixed thoroughly, any less would not mix the tea leaves enough and any more means the tea leaves break up and make a nasty brew.
When the drums have finished blending the leaves are emptied into big hoppers and sent over to a machine where the tea bag paper is ready and waiting to wrap its self around the tea leaves.
The composition of tea bag paper is crucial to getting a good cup of tea. It's typically made out of manillahem, soft in high fibres and polypropylene. To be successful a tea bag must not add any flavour to the tea and its perforations must be exactly the right size to allow the water to seep in and tea solubles to seep out.
Exactly 3.125 grams of tea is deposited onto the paper and as it is passed through hot rollers the polypropylene in the tea bag paper melts and seals the bag.
This machine makes 2 thousand a minute and churns out almost 2 million tea bags a day. Amazing.
There are naturally occurring compounds found in tea known as tannins.
When the leaves are brewed these tannins produce great antiseptic and anti oxidant properties.
Which means drinking four cups a day can be good for you.