How to make Tea | Not a single person knows

Economics: Lesson 130

Write about the division of labor required to create a simple household tool besides a pencil.

This assignment may sound simple, but I found it very hard to quickly find a simple item to describe the division of labour. I finally decided to choose an item right in front of my face. A teabag. Yes, I happen to drink a ridiculous amount of tea, especially while working away at my lessons, so this is the perfect item for me.

The famous essay, “I, Pencil.” by Leonard E. Read has the perfect item to describe the division of labour. It proves that if nobody knows how to even make a simple pencil, then how can you expect them to know how to run an economy? I am going to take it one step up with a tea bag since not everybody has tea in their house but they certainly have a pencil.

Let’s start with the actual tea leaves. Whether a tea or herbal infusion, it all starts off with plants. Someone must choose what kinds of plants to make the tea out of, plant them, care for them, and eventually harvest them. All this takes a huge amount of people, each with different skills and jobs. 

Then the leaves, flowers, or even roots of the plant go through a process of drying, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying or firing. Describing these steps and the workers required to do them would take an entire essay in itself, but just imagine a huge tea factory, with large rooms full of people, all working on one of these steps.

Finally, the tea is graded and tested. Different blends are prepared and tasted, and if found good, sent out to be packed and sold. But wait! All this only tells you how the tea is made, not the teabag.

A company that has its blends of teas must now choose the kind of bag and packaging to put it in. 3.125 grams of tea is deposited on a special paper, which is made by a whole different company with hundreds of workers and machines, and then goes through hot rollers to seal the tea bags.  At last, the tea is looking ready to sell and is sent out to shops and stores, all in different countries, to be sold to customers.

Hundreds of thousands of people and machines go into making a single tea bag, which is then used up in a matter of minutes. But, not one of these workers knows how to make a teabag. The man who tests the tea blends does not know how to grow the plants, and the gardener might not even drink tea! The free market and division of labour are what make all this possible. And I am very thankful because lessons would be so boring without a nice cup of tea.

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