What are bleached bags?
The process of bleaching tea bags isn’t a new one. Companies have been bleaching tea bags since around the 1950s, when tea started to become very popular throughout the UK. Tea bags were first invented in the early 1900s and they were originally hand-made using silk. Although these silken bags were not really designed for dunking into boiling water, most consumers tried dunking them to make a cup of their favourite brew. That’s when the idea for a more robust tea bag (made from paper) originated. During the next few decades tea bags really started to take off. More and more consumers opted for tea bags as opposed to tea leaves, mainly because it was quicker to make a brew and it was easier to clean up! The use of a tea bag meant no loose leaves to clear out from the tea pot which was appealing to many consumers.
When tea bags started to become really popular with consumers in the early 1950s, a lot of tea companies began to think of ways to market and increase the sales of their tea bags to the general public. That’s when the process of bleaching was introduced. But what exactly does the process involve? And what are bleached tea bags?
A variety of chemicals are used during the bleaching process and the tea bag paper is put through the process purely for aesthetic reasons.
If you’re an avid tea-drinker you’ll probably already notice the difference between bleached and unbleached bags as they look very different!
Natural tea bags are quite dark in colour whereas bleached tea bags have a white exterior. When tea bags began to sell in large volumes, many companies felt that the dark tea bag paper wasn’t visually appealing so, as a way to make their tea bags look more attractive, some companies decided to put their paper through the bleaching process. Once the process was introduced many companies adopted it, which is why so many tea bags are still bleached today. There are a number of bleaching processes in user today. One of the bleaching processes sees tea bag paper dipped into chemicals including chlorine. A variety of chemicals are used during this bleaching process and the tea bag paper is put through the process purely for aesthetic reasons. Other companies use a TCF (total chlorine free) bleaching process when it comes to making their tea bags. This process means the paper uses oxygen, ozone or hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine. Oxygen is used to remove the colour from the wood and the bleaching process is completed by ozone or hydrogen peroxide – producing no chlorine byproducts.