Tea is considered one of the oldest beverages in the world and an essential drink in cultures all across the globe. Each of the six basic types of tea – Pu-erh, black, oolong, green, white, or yellow, is unique, because of a combination of differences in terroir from region to region, the same as wine. Also, the season the leaves are plucked, the farmer’s technique in processing the leaf, changing climate conditions, and the many ways we steep them, affects its uniqueness.
You probably already know that the tea bag came about by mistake in 1904 when tea leaf samples were sent in silk packets to customers, from New York’s tea merchant Thomas Sullivan. Instead of removing the loose leaves as initially intended, it resulted in a preference to brew in the bag, and the tea bag was commercialized.
But after a century later, that loose leaf tea is back in fashion. Nowadays people are increasingly more interested and selective as to the origin and quality of what they consume – and tea is no exception. Specialty teas are growing in popularity. Tea sommeliers are becoming more commonplace in restaurants. There’s a wider range of leaves available for commercial use, and you can also buy online a fancy kit to brew at home.
Loose Tea vs Tea Bags: Which One Is Finer?
The short answer is the loose leaf tea is finer than tea bags. And here we will tell you why. Whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust, are grades of picked tea leaves, which represent the difference in quality, taste, and cost. Whole leaf or loose leaf tea is hand-picked, so its quality is controlled by the eye, as opposed to undiscriminating machines. It retains all the antioxidants, and it takes longer to infuse but can usually be used up to three times so it’s more cost-effective. Broken leaf, fannings, and dust are usually used in tea bags where the contents can be hidden. A big disadvantage in an ecological sense is that the tea bags may often contain non-compostable plastic. Even biodegradable ones sustain unnecessary waste.
Finally, you’ll have a better-tasting cup from loose leaf tea. The whole leaf has a larger surface area in which to release its flavor and aroma, whereas a teabag confines the space leaves can move when brewing, limiting the roundness and depth. At the end, how much tea you use dictates the end flavor which is preferable to the teabag dictating you.
The Art Of Tea Ceremonies
The best quality tea is not packed in a box containing 20 tea bags. That is why, tea ceremonies around the world always focus on loose leaf tea, never on conventional teabags.
One tea bag is good for one infusion because the particles in tea bags will release all their flavor in the first step. On the other hand, you can re-steep loose leaf tea and even brew it in different ways to enjoy different flavor profiles. And it offers a better drinking experience too.
Everyone has their preferred way of making a cup of tea, but when it comes to specialty teas, some rules should be respected. Water temperature and steeping time can have a huge effect on whether your tea will be at its best.
Expert and tea tailor Angelo Tantillo says, “For a black tea like English breakfast or a small leaf Assam or Ceylon, use one leveled teaspoon for a teapot for two. Use water at a maximum of 95–98°C and brew for three minutes. For large leaf green tea, use one leveled tablespoon and water at 80–85°C, and brew for two minutes.
How To Find Your Perfect Cup Of Loose Leaf Tea
Leaf tea can seem overwhelming at first, but with a few easy tips, you’ll find collecting and brewing teas a magical journey. Let’s start with your preferable flavor profiles in tea, and then seek them out in loose tea. If you prefer green tea, try green loose-leaf teas. If you like flavored teas, you can transition to flavored whole-leaf tea. Ask your local tea shop for recommendations or check out different online offerings. Tea samplers can be a great way to try new teas.
The next thing, figuring out how you’ll brew your tea. You can find plenty of choices, and some are better for certain types of tea than others. We suggest keeping it simple in the beginning. Then you can learn more about brewing and tasting loose-leaf tea with the 101 e-course.
Follow your taste and style. If you drink what you love and infuse in something beautiful and sensible for you, you’ll never look at tea bags the same way again.
Health Benefits Of Loose Leaf Tea
When it comes to pushing your health goals to the next level, the benefits of loose leaf tea are worth checking out. Perhaps the most well-known health benefit of all, is that loose leaf tea is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to neutralize damaged cells which help us not only look and feel better but also prevent and improve diseases. Especially white tea has been said to help lower cholesterol because it is the least processed out of the teas, which makes the number of antioxidants in this tea higher than the others.
It’s been said that loose leaf green tea has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis, helps improve circulation and immune system, and combined with healthier overall habits would most likely lead to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It helps with weight loss too, by boosting your metabolism.
On top of that loose leaf tea has a calming effect on the body, and helps boost mental clarity, memory, and concentration.
The popularity of loose leaf tea started growing only a couple of decades ago, but the health benefits from loose leaf tea, it’s quality and taste are well known centuries ago. With so many extras, it’s a wonderful idea to begin including more tea into your daily routine. And with so many flavorful options, you’ll never get bored.
Truthfully, if you’re looking to get started drinking loose leaf tea, or need a new variety of teas, we suggest starting trying teas so you can find your perfect flavor and enjoy your own little tea ceremony.