sidaust wrote: Could one just open the tea bags and use it like loose tea...Just wondering..
I'm not sure this question was ever actually answered
You can do this - but it's horribly messy. You'll need a particularly fine strainer in order to sift out the tea bits - which sort of become a sludge. (When a tea bag breaks in a pot it's not a particularly joyous occasion).
Going on to the overriding topic
I'm quite schizophrenic when it comes to black tea.
On the one hand I'm a bit of a tea snob (like most people here) and appreciate fine loose leaf teas, which I rarely drink with milk.
On the other hand, living in England, I've been endowed with a healthy appreciation of the tea bag - milk is pretty much mandatory for this kind of brew.
What you get is entirely different, the resulting teas just can't be compared. And the kind of British Tea I'm referring to (such as http://www.yorkshiretea.co.uk
, PG Tips, Tetleys etc...) is rarely found abroad and even in this country it's rarely made well outside of people's homes... so not something most tourists will get to try.
The strange thing is that with high grade leaf teas I can brew them in London, Spain and Japan and get consistent results using mineral water. Good tea from 'Working class style' tea-bags (I don't bother with Liptons-yuck! or Twinings - if you're going to go 'upmarket' you might as well drink better tea from leaf) is somehow more elusive. For whatever reason, it's something I can only get right in England. It's pretty icky in Madrid or Tokyo... perhaps it's the milk as well as the water. Alas, with more teas being formulated to pander to the current trend of brewing tea in a mug
, the kind of tea Britain excelled at in the 1950s/60s/70s is becoming harder and harder to find.
I'm obviously just as much a snob about tea bags as I am about leaf tea (I warm the pot, ensure the pot with tea bags is near the kettle so I can pour it in within moments of it boiling, cover the pot with a teapot cozy while it brews, and, controversially, add the milk to the tea last.). A good, strong, English style 'cuppa' is what I most miss when I've been away. It's as quintessentially a part of our culture as Paella in Spain (Valencia) or Ramen in Japan. And just like with paella and ramen, few outside of their originating regions will have ever had a good one. There's a lot to be said for peasant/working class tastes, no need to eat/drink like a Princess every day