Speaking of tea bags, did you know that tea bags don’t actually contain tea leaves? They are filled with fannings.
Doesn’t sound too appetizing or tea-like does it?
Fannings is the technical term for the leftover powders and dust from tea processing. They are essentially small broken pieces of tea leaves and tea dust. When combined they have the consistency of a rough powder.
This is the “tea” in most tea bags! The fannings are considered by tea enthusiasts to yield an inferior tasting tea and drinking experience, partially because the fannings are exposed to more air during processing and packaging. Air exposure causes the tea to go stale faster and lose some of the flavorful oils.
But the news is not all bad, I promise! Some of the higher end tea sellers who use bags do package whole tea leaves in larger bags (always unbleached and large enough to allow the tea to expand when wet), and have moved away from bagging fannings. A good rule of thumb: the cheaper the tea, the more fannings there be!