I originally wrote this about three years ago on another bit of the internet, but I just went to make a cup of tea in the kitchen at work and in the big Tupperware box which holds all the tea bags, I noticed there was a mix of round Tetley tea bags and square tea bags (the square bags were anonymous). My hand automatically reached for the square bag.
OK, our buzzword for today is “cravings”. “Cravings”. Not John Cravings. We’re not talking “John Cravings’ News Round Up”. No, we’re talking “cravings”. What foods do we get cravings of? Tania, start us off…
When people talk about cravings, they normally mean food. I might crave a KFC Zinger burger, and now, having typed those words, I do, and probably so do you too. Or I might crave an Aero, which I don’t because I want a Zinger burger. I want a Zinger burger right now. Oh God, how long is it until lunchtime? Sometimes, I guess, I might crave a particular song. I might suddenly realise that it is hugely important for me to hear Magic Fly by Space, for example.
Anyway, recently I’ve been craving a very particular aesthetic experience. The experience of making a cup of tea using a square teabag. Putting the square tea bag in a mug, briefly considering the awkward fit, before pouring on the boiling water and adding the milk. Straining the bag against the side of the mug with my spoon and then dropping it in the bin.
I have no idea why I crave this so much, because it’s such a minor experience, but it’s something I desperately crave. I’m strong though, I didn’t just rush out and buy a big box of square tea-bags, just because of this weird craving of mine. No, I waited patiently, almost enjoying the wait, savouring it, deliberately delaying the moment my hunger will be assuaged. And now, my moment has come – last night I finished the last of my pyramid bags, those cocky show-offs of the tea world which caused so much excitement when they launched in 1996 but now seem tacky and ostentatious. And as for those effete round bags1, they’re just a joke.
I’m not even entirely sure who make square bags now2, so long have I been hypnotised by the false glamour of the pyramid. Yorkshire Tea is the way to go, I reckon3.
1 According to this odd little website, the round tea bag was launched in May 1989, after five years of research.
2 While one might assume that square is the default shape for tea bags, that is not the case. Lyons Quickbrew, Teadirect, Tetley, Typhoo and both Tesco and Asda own brand all use round bags.
3 Yorkshire Tea do indeed use square bags, and for about a year and a half after writing the above, I remained loyal to Yorkshire Tea. After a while though, I fancied a change, and one day, as I was ordering my shopping online, I spent about an hour researching different types of tea. In the end, I went with the relatively new brand “Make Mine A Builders”, after being won over by this snappy, to-the-point headline in the Grocer. Make Mine A Builders use round bags. During the course of my research, I discovered this article on the Tetley Tea Experts website:
Normal, everyday tea is very important to the convenience shopper, accounting for 97% of all the tea sold in convenience. Due to the distress nature of the convenience shopper, it’s important that they can get the tea they need when they need it. 19% of shoppers have to shop in-between ‘big shops’. Everyday tea should be at the heart of the convenience store.
Everyday tea tends to be purchased as part of a ‘top up’ shop, when shoppers have run out of tea at home and don’t want to travel all the way to the supermarket to buy tea. This shows how important everyday tea should be to the convenience retailer, as it forms the basis of the top-up shopper mission. Everyday Tea is a reason for convenience shoppers to visit your store.
“Due to the distress nature of the convenience shopper, it’s important that they can get the tea they need when they need it”