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I don't understand tea!
April 9, 2008 8:38 AM   Subscribe

How are teabags made?

Help me understand the mysterious world of tea production. I see smallish companies like this selling teabags and I always wonder about the process of going from loose tea leaves to teabag in shiny tea bag wrapper.

I assume that there is not a single person sitting and blending all the leaves, stuffing them into each individual teabag, gluing the bag closed, and then stuffing the bag into the paper/plastic wrapper. There must be some sort of automated process? A machine? Where do companies get teabag stuffing/making/packaging machines? Where do they get the teabags to put the tea in? How does it all work?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Food & Drink (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This might answer some of your questions.

I visited the Celestial Seasonings tea factory a few years ago and can report that the process from loose tea/herbs to plastic sealed boxes of tea bags was entirely automated.
posted by ssg at 8:54 AM on April 9, 2008


Google "tea bag machine" (1st hit)
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on April 9, 2008


Also, this picture pretty clearly shows what goes on. Tea is in the top funnel, is gravity fed down to the component that takes the paper roll and stamps or folds it into a bag around the tea, then is placed on the exit chute for packing into boxes.

You can also DIY without a big expensive machine.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 AM on April 9, 2008


I visited the Celestial Seasonings tea factory a few years ago and can report that the process from loose tea/herbs to plastic sealed boxes of tea bags was entirely automated.

I did the same thing actually and there is a big assembly line style setup. Imagine your generic automated factory and that's basically what it looks like.

From what I remember, the tea is received in big bags (and ye gods, do they smell good) which are them sorted/sifted to remove any sticks, leaves, etc. From there, they go into the line and are mechanically divided into individual bags. The bags are automatically sorted into boxes, the boxes are sealed and put into a single shippable box.

Here's a blog post about the process. If you're even around Denver, I'd definitely take the factory tour.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2008


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