Teabags with tags are a pain in the arse. I mean, the idea seems sound—a heat-resistant paper handle to lift out a nearly boiling teabag—and probably did have a function before the invention of the spoon. These days, though, a tag is largely redundant unless you’re the sort of person who finds their experience of holidays in the Mediterranean enhanced by the whiff of colonialism that the ubiquitous Lipton brands provide, and want to bring a little bit of that tagged love home with you.
If you try to just ignore the tag and pour water in regardless, it invariably ends up flipping over the lip of the mug and landing in your tea. These tags are often full of brightly coloured, if FDA-approved, paper dyes, and I for one stopped chewing balls of paper in my teens. I no longer have the enzymes to deal with them, even in an infusion.
Worse, if you try and do something clever with the tag—like looping it round the mug handle—it only makes the whole apparatus harder to detach and put in the bin when your drink is fully brewed. In a horrific reversal of the previous process, when you start pulling on the string to disentangle the tag, the scalding-hot teabag is in danger of flipping over the lip and onto your waiting fingers, busy as they are with this pointless extension to the tea-making process.
It has to stop. Some committee of sadomasochists have already extended the concept of the tag to the ridiculous drawstring affair, a bag-squeezing innovation rendered doubly obsolete by, once again, the humble spoon. We need affirmative action on all fronts: charitable trusts providing spoons for all; public information films demystifying the use of the spoon in beverage preparation; the political will represented by a campaign of No Child Left Behind Without A Spoon.
And, in the mean time, armies of discreet, non-violent protestors will roam the land’s supermarkets; each of them an expert in the process of removing tags without disturbing the packaging of most popular brands of tea; armed only with scissors, dexterity, and their own unshakeable resolve.