Unbleached vs Bleached Bags

Did you know that the standard tea bag goes through a bleaching process before it reaches your cup? It’s a process that’s been happening for years and many companies continue to bleach their bags today.

Here at Clipper Teas we have a strong focus on pure, natural drinks which is why our bags are unbleached. But what’s the difference between the two? Let’s take a closer look at the process of bleaching tea bags and find out why unbleached bags are so different from the rest…

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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!

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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.

What are unbleached bags?

Unbleached bags are quite different from bleached bags and the main reason they are so different is because they don’t go through a chemical process before reaching your cup! When looking at unbleached bags the most obvious difference (when compared to a standard tea bag) is their exterior. The paper used to make bleached bags looks bright white, whereas the paper used to make unbleached bags has a much darker exterior and that’s because they are completely natural. But although unbleached bags have a completely different look to bleached bags, there is no taste difference. Unbleached tea bags taste the same as their bleached counterparts as our Tea Master Daniel Parr explains: “The paper used in teabags has no impact on taste, but we felt it was right to use the most natural packaging we could get our hands on. Bleaching tea bag paper is completely unnecessary and does nothing to improve your cup of tea.”

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Clipper Tea Bags

At Clipper Teas we have a strong focus on doing what’s good for the planet as well as creating natural, delicious drinks so housing our tea leaves in unbleached bags was a natural step for us. We’ve been using unbleached bags for over 20 years and our complete range (green tea, everyday tea, white tea and infusions) is made using unbleached paper so whatever blend you’re drinking, you’ll know it’s as natural as can be!

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Although our bags might look different to some others on the market, the contents of our tea bags are exactly the same as they have always been. Our Master Blenders Daniel and James are constantly working on developing our teas and our focus will always be on creating quality (as well as tasty!) drinks.

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With love from Clipper!

We've gone a bit bonkers at Clipper HQ and decided we wanted to share the love with our lovely Clipper tea drinkers out there! We’ve created 3 Limited Edition tea caddies and each comes FREE with our special packs of Fairtrade Everyday Tea, Organic Everyday Tea and Pure Green tea (80 tea bags).

We’ve also made thousands of unbleached Clipper tea-towels and popped them into other packs of our Fairtrade Everyday Tea (80 bags). There are 4 different designs to look out for. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve only gone and put 100% more tea bags into boxes of our Pure Green Tea 26  Bags – yes we’ve squeezed 52 bags in there!

Read more about which gifts we’ll be bestowing by clicking on the images below.

All this Clipper loveliness will be in supermarkets from the end of October.