Drink Magazine

Is It Possible to Find Premium Quality Tea Leaves in a Pyramid Tea Bag?

By Dchew78 @peonyts

Many purist tea drinkers rail against the traditional tea bag- rightfully so I might add as I have added my two cents worth here- with the protest that the fanning used in tea bags will never produce the true flavor of tea.

On the surface the pyramid bag seems to be a godsend, the larger bags allow loose leaf- real loose leaf tea! -to be packed inside.

So it should the best of worlds, convenience and quality in one handy package, right?

A Parallel in the Working World

If you were an employer, would you employ an Ivy League MBA holder with 10 years of senior management experience in Fortune 500 companies to clean the toilets?

Under normal circumstances, the answer is no.

The logic is simple. You are expected to pay for that level of qualification for a position that does not require it. Or from another perspective, the position is not conducive to bringing out the best in the individual.

You can pay a fraction of the salary to employ someone equally competent to clean the toilet.

Now bringing this back to tea, the presumption is that barring extraordinary circumstances, there is no sense in paying more for quality that is not required or exhibited under those circumstances.

Let us look at the individual categories of tea:

Green teas

There are two main arguments:

Firstly, the higher grades of green teas are favored for their aesthetic value.

There is a popular saying among Chinese tea lovers “premium tea is served in a glass, coarse tea is served in a pot”.

Is it possible to find premium quality tea leaves in a pyramid tea bag?
The therapeutic relaxing value of watching the green tea leaves float around and unfurl in a dance like movement is an integral part of the green tea experience.

Constrained in a bag, pyramid or otherwise, there is no benefit to paying a higher value for the beauty and tenderness of the leaves.

Secondly, storage of green tea is finicky. Below room temperature is the preferred choice of professionals in green tea producing countries such as China and Japan.

Packing in the pyramid bag takes up extra space in the refrigerator and it can’t be tightly packed because green tea leaves are brittle. The practical consideration of the packaging also extends to the oxygen and moisture protection crucial in the storage of green tea.

While it is technically possible to address these issues, the costs add up.

White Tea

Similar to green tea, white tea- at least Silver Needles- are favored for the visual aspect. White Peony is generally fluffy and light, making it hard to pack in pyramid bags.

Oolong Tea

Again there are 2 main arguments.

Is it possible to find premium quality tea leaves in a pyramid tea bag?
Firstly space. Oolong tea is made from matured leaves that can be pretty sizeable. The pyramid bags will only serve to constrain it.

Secondly, more so than any other category of tea, oolong tea requires ‘proper brewing’. Gongfu brewing and oolong tea is intricately linked.

As seasoned oolong tea lovers will attest, many of the nuances and aromas of oolong tea will not be unleashed other than in gongfu brewing.

Sheng Puer

Like green tea, storage of sheng Puer is not so straightforward. To put it simply, to age it, you need exposure to oxygen and humidity but not too much.

The compressed cakes or bricks make storage easier because you can place them in jars/bamboo with controlled airflow. Perhaps someone more intelligent than me can figure out a way to balance that with a bunch of pyramid tea bags but I can’t think of anything right now.

How about sealing aged Sheng Puer?

That might had been plausible 20 years ago when aged Sheng Puer didn’t cost a bomb.

Today with the price of aged Sheng Puer, most people would gongfu brew it and get the full 10-20 infusions worth.


It might technically be possible to get could Shu Puer and other dark teas in a pyramid bag although I would think airing it would also help to reduce the ‘wodui’ smell. The notion of an unsealed package of tea bags not absorbing foreign aromas seems highly unlikely to me.

Is it possible to find premium quality tea leaves in a pyramid tea bag?
As for yellow tea, they are lesser known among tea drinkers, least of all tea baggers and the famous ones such as Junshan Yinzhen and Mengding Huangya are also favored for the visual delight as well.

That only leaves black tea. While black tea is usually made from one bud to two leaves, fairly matured, only those of the Assamica variety- e.g. Yunnan Black- would be larger than the capacity of the pyramid tea bags.

The aesthetic value of black tea is not something that is often discussed and black tea does not suffer as much from casual brewing as Puer and Oolong.

For the other categories of tea I wouldn’t say it is impossible that high quality leaves are used in pyramid tea bags, just highly improbable.

Even if it is, you are better off buying loose leaf tea and pocketing the savings on the labor and material for the packaging.

See more articles on tea appreciation here

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