September 14, 2023 6 min read

When it comes to a hot cup of comfort, nothing quite compares to the soothing embrace of a perfectly brewed tea. New Zealanders have a particular affinity for tea, the soothing aroma of a freshly brewed cup of tea is enough to brighten even the dreariest of days. And in the modern world, where convenience often takes precedence, tea bags have become the go-to choice for many tea lovers. But why choose tea bags over loose leaf teas? In this blog post we’ll discuss the tea bag universe, and the best tea bags to try from three of New Zealand’s most renowned loose leaf and tea bag brands - T Leaf T, Harney & Sons, and Tea Total. So, steep yourself in knowledge as we embark on this tea-rrific journey into the world of tea bags.

The Tale of Tea Bags

1. The Rise of Tea Bags

The tall tea begs

Tea bags have an interesting history. Many people think they were invented in the early 20th century in the United States but there is evidence that as early as the 8th Century, during the Tang dynasty in China, folded and hand sewn square paper bags were being used to conserve teas. Today, tea bags are popular because of their convenience. They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to cater to different tastes and preferences. They act as a simplified infuser, often on a string for easy removal. 

2. Types of Tea Bags

Types of Tea Bags

aEmpty Tea Bags for Loose Tea: For the Creative Tea Enthusiast

If you're a purist who loves loose tea leaves but you crave the convenience of tea bags, you can always make your own. Fill empty tea bags with your favourite loose tea leaves, and voilà! You have the best of both worlds. Empty tea bags are a blessing for those who love to experiment with loose tea leaves. They allow you to create your unique blends and control the strength of your brew. 

bBest Tea Bags: T Leaf T, Harney & Sons, and Tea Total

Let's talk about the best tea bags available in New Zealand, starting with three renowned brands

c. T Leaf T

T Leaf T use pyramid tea bags, which include a tag and string. They are made from polylactic acid (PLA). The PLA material used by T Leaf T is derived from corn starch and does not contain any polypropylene. The tea bags are sealed using a transducer which applies pressure at an exact temperature - this cuts and seals each bag without the addition of any other materials. While compostable, PLA products generally take a number of months to degrade in a commercial composting facility. It is not known if the heat required can be achieved in home composting set-ups. Some of T Leaf T’s best teas are available in tea bags. Our picks for the top three best tea bags from T Leaf T are Jasmine Dragon Pearls, New Zealand Breakfast, and Honeyed Chamomile with New Zealand Kawakawa

d. Harney & Sons

This US-based brand has made its mark worldwide, and its tea bags are no exception. They recently released a statement about their progress in transitioning away from nylon based tea bags. As at 14 June 2023 91.3% of their tea bags (Harney & Sons call them “sachets”) are now using a sugarcane based material. The list of teas that are not using the sugarcane material are:

1. Hot Cinnamon Spice, Decaf Hot Cinnamon Spice, Green Hot Cinnamon Spice, Herbal Hot Cinnamon Spice

2. Hot Apple Spice

3. Chamomile

4. Yellow & Blue

5. Peppermint

6. Organic Green w/ Citrus and Ginkgo

7. Organic Turmeric & Ginger

8. White Peach Matcha, Very Berry Matcha, Roasted Buckwheat Matcha

They have plans to convert the remaining products, but adaptation of machinery is required. The plant-based material Harney & Sons use comes from sugarcane grown in Thailand. The sugarcane is fermented and bacteria eats the fermented sugar making lactic acid which is converted into a fiber that creates the mesh that holds in the tea but allows the liquid tea to flow to you.  So all sugar is converted and none remains in your sachets material, making it safe for diabetics and those concerned with sugar intake.

Our top picks for Harney & Sons products available in Tea Bags are English Breakfast Tea,Japanese Sencha, and Paris Tea

e. Tea Total

Tea Total, is truly a Kiwi tea brand. Based in Auckland, is a haven for tea lovers. Their tea bags come in various flavours, and their commitment to organic teas is commendable. Explore their offerings to enjoy the pure, unadulterated taste of tea. Tea Total’s tea bags are made of NON-GMO sugarcane bioplastic which is biodegradable and industrially compostable. They are safe for brewing and sealed using heat, not glue.

Tea Total uses pyramid shaped tea bags because this allows them to provide the same quality of tea they use for their loose-leaf teas (unlike many tea bags that use a lesser grade as it’s easy to disguise in tea bags).

3. Organic Tea Bags: Sip with a Clear Conscience

Sip with a Clear Conscience

Organic tea bags are gaining popularity due to their eco-friendly and health-conscious appeal. Brands like T Leaf T and Tea Total offer organic options that are free from harmful pesticides and chemicals. By choosing organic tea bags, you're not only benefiting your health but also supporting sustainable farming practices.

4. Plastic vs. Paper: The Tea Bag Material Dilemma

Plastic vs. Paper Tea Bag

The material of your tea bag matters. While traditional paper tea bags are biodegradable, some tea bags contain plastic elements that may not break down as easily. Brands like Harney & Sons are moving towards plastic-free tea bags to reduce their environmental footprint, while Tea Total and T Leaf T are arguably already there.

5. Tea Bag Packaging: Aesthetics and Functionality

Tea Bag Packaging

Tea bag packaging not only keeps your tea fresh but also adds to the overall experience. Many brands, including Harney & Sons, invest in elegant and practical packaging that enhances the pleasure of tea drinking. Tea Total say they use pyramid shaped tea bags so they don’t have to skimp on the quality of their teas just  because they are provided in a tea bag. 

6. Bulk Tea Bags: For the Avid Tea Drinker

Bulk Tea Bags

If you're a frequent tea drinker, buying in bulk can save you money and reduce packaging waste. Look out for bulk options from Tea Total and other brands to keep your tea stash well-stocked.

7. Metal Tea Bags: A Reusable Alternative

Metal Tea Bags

For those who want to avoid disposable tea bags altogether, metal tea bags are a sustainable option. They are designed for multiple uses and allow you to enjoy loose tea without the waste.

8. Best Tea Bag Brands: The Final Sip

Best Tea Bag Brands

In the world of tea bags, quality matters. Each of the brands mentioned - T Leaf T, Harney & Sons, and Tea Total - has carved a niche for itself by delivering exceptional tea experiences. Choose your favourite and let your taste buds embark on a delightful journey.

9. Used Tea Bags: Beyond the Brew

Used Tea Bags: Beyond the Brew

Don't discard your used tea bags just yet. They have some surprising uses beyond brewing a second cup of tea. From natural skincare to cleaning solutions, used tea bags are versatile household allies.

10. Large Tea Bags: Brewing for a Crowd

Large Tea Bags

Sometimes, a regular-sized tea bag just won't cut it. Large tea bags are perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with friends or enjoy on your own when you need a little extra comfort.

11. Tagless Tea Bags: Simplicity in Brewing

Tagless Tea Bags

Tagless tea bags are designed for those who prefer a fuss-free tea experience. No tags, no strings, just pure tea enjoyment.

Sip Your Way to Tea Bag Bliss

Sip Your Way to Tea Bag Bliss

In the world of tea, the convenience and variety offered by tea bags are hard to beat. Whether you're exploring the rich, traditional flavours of T Leaf T, the global offerings of Harney & Sons, or the organic delights of Tea Total, there's a tea bag for every tea lover in New Zealand.

Remember to choose eco-friendly options when possible, and consider trying empty tea bags for a more personalised tea experience. Explore the diverse range of tea bags available at to elevate your tea-drinking ritual.

So, go ahead, brew a cup of your favourite tea, and let the comforting warmth of your chosen blend embrace your senses. Cheers to the world of tea bags and the endless possibilities they bring to your tea journey.

Disclaimer: The information provided by The Flowering Herb is intended as general information for entertainment purposes only. We are not healthcare providers and we do not hold any healthcare qualification.  

The content contained on this site is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment and we are not making any recommendations for your personal situation. We therefore strongly recommend and encourage you to consult with your primary health practitioner prior to making any changes to your diet/consumption habits or purchasing any of our products with the intent of manage any health condition. 

Shiva Ji
Shiva Ji

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