29 December 2008

Good tea dust may make an interesting blend

       tea bagsa selection of tea bags 

I'm not talking about the fancy tea bags made of high-quality cotton or silk which contain quality leaf.  I'm talking about regular tea bags that contain tea "dust" or broken up teas. 

I've spent the last several months collecting various types of tea bits and dust from processed oolongs of various types:  Alishan, Lishan, Baozhong, Jinxuan, Oriental Beauty, Dong Ding....  I've even collected the dust from several puerh cakes and quality black teas as well.  Using unbleached fiber tea bags, I've tasted teas from a single type of oolong, like just a Lishan teabag, and I've tasted blends of several teas.  My conclusion is generally the same:

No matter how good the tea is, its dust and bits aren't representative of the taste to the actual product

You may be saying, "well, duh!"  However, I found the leftovers from these high quality teas to be quite pleasant.

Tea dust can be found at the bottom of the bags/cans/boxes that teas are sold in, or they are found at the bottom of the pan or floor of a roasting machine.  Much of the dust is the result of the processing of the tea and has a distinctly different taste and aroma than the tea that is to be used for brewing. 

tea dust which teas are in here?

The tea bits that I used were broken pieces of product.  Baozhong, for example, is fairly brittle and long in shape, so it's easy to crush and break into pieces. 

broken baozhongbroken-up Baozhong

Many people can appreciate the convenience of a tea bag.  Because dust from several different teas may all be mixed together to produce a tea bag, it's not always easy to discern exactly what type of tea one is having when drinking from a generic green/oolong/black tea bag.

The next time you buy a big bag of tea, save the dust and put it into a cloth filter (even a coffee filter will work).  It's not the same as the tea itself, but it may be an interesting blend and will probably taste better than what you get at the restaurants. 


  1. Rich - You know what we don't have? An e-mail address for you. We have no way to contact you except to show up at tea at the right time on the right day. My e-mail address is towards the end of the top page of PSC's mirror of my blog: http://www.pacsci.org/astroinfo/


  2. This is a great idea. I hate throwing out tea dust, but it doesn't really work in a gaiwan as it makes the tea too bitter. I guess it's kind of obvious, but hey, I never thought of it! You could also use these home made teabags for guests who wanted tea, but are for some reason opposed to gongfu cha.

    What kind of fiber do you use? I think I saw a linen teabag on sale somewhere which would be reusable and cheesecloth would work too. What fibre is your choice?

  3. LaoChaGui, I started collecting dust from the teahouse I visit when I noticed that they had so much dust left over after roasting/packaging tea. They sell tea bags there for personal use and the box says that it's unbleached fiber, but I can't recall what type of fiber; will check it out next time I'm there. I think cheescloth would work too, as would a coffee filter. It would be a mess to brew in a Gaiwan, though, just like you said.

    Alice, I'll email you!