Until I started educating myself about tea, the different types, tools, techniques and varieties thereof, I knew what I had grown up with: bagged tea (aka: Lipton)
Tea is made of leaves. Tea needs to steep, that is, to let the dried leaves unfurl , thus releasing the flavor and taste. What you get in tea bags is not leaves, but the chopped up bits of tea (often called fannings and dust). Imagine someone snuck into a tea processing factory, and using their hands, swept the loose scraps off the table, put it bags and called it tea.
Well, the truth is, cheap tea companies, who assume you know nothing about tea (and, for many years I didn't) package up the leftovers and call it tea, and market it to the unknowing consumer. Companies selling you that schwag (aka: nasty bits of tea) are basically selling you hotdogs - leftovers that have been reprocessed and sold as its own entity.
I like the "loose tea in a bag" that a number of companies are experimenting with.
Sounds contradicatory, I know...but an innovative concept indeed, a bag that starts off with loose tea and is designed with more room so the tea can unfurl.
BIG PLUG: The Mighty Leaf Tea Company - I'd like to thank them for their excellent tea bags. While I don't buy them for my house, I breathe a sigh of relief when in my travels and faced with a selection of tea, I can have a Mighty Tea!!!
So if I could bring this to a close, it would be to advise people to be aware of what they are drinking....after all, life's too short to drink hotdogs.