Nylon teabags coming to a supermarket near you

Supermarkets in the UK, apparently, have begun stocking teabags made from nylon mesh, rather than the traditional perforated tissue paper.

Experts predict the nylon variety, said to be the next best thing to loose leaf tea, could come to replace the paper version.

The bags are based on a Japanese innovation from the 1980s, and Asda, which is owned by Wal Mart, uses the new-style translucent nylon teabags for its Extra Special range, while Sainsbury's now sells St James fruit teas, made with silky, food-grade nylon. The bags are large enough to be filled with whole leaf tea, fruit, flowers and herbs.

The nylon bags are around four times more expensive than the paper version and have previously only been available at specialist tea shops. This is the first time they have gone on sale in mainstream high street stores.

While experts say that “these nylon mesh tea bags are the next best thing to whole leaf tea brewed in a teapot," it beats me why we do not, in fact, rather use loose leaves in a pot or, if you have to brew in a cup, why not use a infuser. I know of some people who carry their own tea and infusers to do just that.

This is the world gone mad entirely, in my view. While everyone is being encouraged to recycle and to compost where possible along come teabags that cannot be composted so, you have to open the bags if you want to compost the tea leaves and you still have something left that is not biodegradable, and that is rather a messy affair. This is utter madness.

"Hopefully, this type of bag will become the norm”, said the same expert. I rather hope not and I hope that the environmentally conscious consumers will send this idea to where it belongs. Into the annals of stupid ideas and inventions. Nylon is a product of the petroleum industry and do I really want to brew my tea in “plastic”? I do not think so.

I would rather see the demise of the teabag altogether in the interest of the planet and the return to proper tea in the pot – or by use of a infuser. In some supermarkets I find it is actually difficult to actually buy loose tea and let's not even talk of teas that are not “standard” such as a favorite of mine, South African Redbush tea. It seems to be only available in teabags.

Let's hear it for the loose tea and the infuser.

© M V Smith, November 2007