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Tea Bags

Episode 1 of 6

Documentary series. Gregg Wallace receives some tea leaves from Kenya and follows them through the factory that produces one quarter of all the tea drunk in Britain.

Gregg Wallace receives a load of tea leaves from Kenya and follows their journey through the factory that produces one quarter of all the tea we drink in Britain. Gregg turns his 20-tonne batch into 6.9 million bags. Along the way, he discovers that there can be up to 20 different teas in your bag and that the recipe for the blend is altered every day, measured against a standard created in 1978.

Meanwhile, Cherry Healey discovers the secrets of the tea leaf in an African tea-processing plant. She learns that 40% of each leaf is made up of chemicals called polyphenols. She is surprised to find that white, green and black tea are all made from the same leaves. She also discovers that the bag surrounding your tea is not ordinary paper, but a highly engineered fabric made up of hemp, wood and polypropylene. She watches as a 60-kilometre-long roll is produced. And she gets some scientific tips on making the best possible cup of tea with a tea bag.

Historian Ruth Goodman investigates tea adulteration. In the 19th century, there were eight separate factories in London which existed solely to dry and recolour used tea leaves. She discovers that it was 'honest' John Hornim who put that right and ensured we could trust our tea. She also finds that in the military during the Second World War, armoured divisions had to leave the safety of their tanks to brew up - a habit that resulted in many casualties. She climbs on board a modern-day tank to make a cup of tea with a boiling vessel, the innovation that solved this problem.

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 25 Oct 2020 18:00

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  • 00:00

    Ed Sheeran

    Castle On The Hill

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    Take That

    And The Band Plays

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    Taylor Swift


  • 00:03

    The xx

    A Violent Noise

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    The xx

    A Violent Noise

  • 00:04


    Good Grief

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    Abana Ba Nasery

    Esiesi Siolle

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    Jackson Ingosi


  • 00:08

    Shirati Jazz

    Evaline Atieno

  • 00:08

    Seinabo Sey

    Hard Time

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    Seinabo Sey

    Hard Time

  • 00:10

    Plan B


  • 00:11

    Achieng Abura, Barbara Guantai, Suzanna Kibukosya, Mercy Myra, Nyota Ndogo, Suzzana Owíyo, Abbi, John Katana, Peter Ngeru, Gabiel Omondi, Juma Odemba, Eric Wainaina, Yunasi, Joy Mboya & General Defao

    Wakati Ni Sasa

  • 00:16

    Wiz Khalifa

    No Sleep

  • 00:21

    Rat Boy


  • 00:21

    Olly Murs

    Better Without You

  • 00:23

    Ady Suleiman

    Running Away

  • 00:25

    Abana Ba Nasery


  • 00:26

    Olly Murs

    Love You More

  • 00:28



  • 00:28

    Rag’n’Bone Man


  • 00:31

    Anne Shelton

    A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

  • 00:32

    George Formby

    The Old Kitchen Kettle

  • 00:36

    John Williams

    The March From 1941

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  • 00:37

    Peter Bjorn and John

    Between The Lines

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    Frightened Rabbit

    Swim Until You Can't See Land

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    Frightened Rabbit

    Swim Until You Can't See Land

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    John Barry


  • 00:43


    Wanted More

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    Little Mix

    Nothing Else Matters

  • 00:47

    Sam Costa

    Everything Stops For Tea

  • 00:47

    Enter Shikari


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    Empty Threat

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    Saint Motel

    You Can Be You

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    Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us

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    The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

    Something Just Like This

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    Rhinestone Eyes

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    Wanted More

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    Alan Walker


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    Fiction (feat. Tom Odell)


Role Contributor
Presenter Gregg Wallace
Presenter Cherry Healey
Presenter Ruth Goodman
Executive Producer Alice Harper
Executive Producer Sanjay Singhal
Series Producer Amanda Lyon
Director Michael Rees
Producer Emma Pound
Producer Sam Bailey
Director Sam Bailey
Producer Will Aspinall
Director Will Aspinall
Production Manager Sally Finigan
Production Company Voltage TV Productions Ltd


  • Tue 18 Jul 2017 20:00
  • Sun 23 Jul 2017 19:00
  • Tue 8 Aug 2017 02:45
  • Wed 27 Dec 2017 15:20
  • Sun 18 Nov 2018 20:00
  • Mon 6 May 2019 20:00
  • Sun 25 Oct 2020 18:00