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 everyday and 96 percent 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 6 different countries. But how does the tea get into the bag? Sacks of tealeaves are imported and lifted over a large container where they split open and emptied into a big suction pipe which carries them away into 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 12 times to ensure the blend is mixed thoroughly. Any less will not mix the tealeaves enough and any more means the tealeaves break up and make a nasty brew. When the drums have finish blending, the leaves emptied into big hoppers and sent over into a machine where the tea bag paper is ready and waiting to wrap itself around the tealeaves. The composition of tea bag paper is crucial to getting a good cup of tea. It's typically made out of Manila hemp, soft and hard fibres, and polypropylene. To be successful, a tea bag does not add any flavour to the tea and its perforations must be exactly the right size to allow the water to sip in and tea solubles to seek out. Exactly 3.125 grams of tea is deposited onto the tea bag paper and as it passed through hot rollers, the polypropylene in the tea bag paper melts and sieves with the bag. This machine makes 2000 tea bags a minute and transout 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 will produce great antiseptic and antioxidant properties. Which means drinking four cups a day can be good for you.


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