Tea is a nutritious and hydrating drink made in infinite varieties. Legend has it that some leaves fluttered down into the Chinese emperor’s pot of boiled water and resulted in an aromatic, invigorating brew.
The history of millennia has laid the foundation of tea cultures worldwide. But we have adapted to a less-than-perfect variation. Teabags contain lower grades of tea. In comparison, loose leaf isn’t crushed to fit a sachet, retaining stellar proportions of minerals and flavor.
Loose Leaf Tea vs. Bagged Tea
The two types differ in the sourcing of tea leaves. At the top of the pyramid sits whole-leaf teas – intact hand-picked buds that produce loose leaf tea. You’ll meet compromising teabags further down the line.
They either contain broken leaves or dust and fannings. The manufacturers break down whole leaves or grind their fragments to increase the surface area. The essential oils evaporate from tiny grounds during the process, leaving a bitter taste on sipping.
On the other hand, loose leaf tea reserves the original astringency flavor and soothing floral fragrance. It lets out all tannins and antioxidants once infused.
Although bigger pouches are hitting the scene, tea connoisseurs stick to the ritualistic steeping method!
Benefits of switching to loose leaf tea
Loose leaf tea should be your staple beverage. Not only does it suit caffeine addicts but also health-conscious people as a go-to drink. The myriads of antioxidants detoxify your body from damaged cells and potential diseases.
More studies are required to fully explore this ancient elixir’s health benefits.
Two immediate advantages will follow if you swap out prepackaged bags with loose leaf tea.
The paradigm of purity
Loose leaf is the least processed form of tea. It is free from degradation, maintaining the pure flavor of its parent plant. You’ll notice a harmonious taste with each steep, whereas teabags are no good after the first dip.
The amount of tea in water determines the strength and richness of the drink. Since it’s a matter of personal preference, whole leaves abound more control to your fingertips.
A friend to the environment
Teabags create a tremendous amount of waste every day. They are packed individually as well as collectively in a carton. Even if you opt for recyclable and decomposable material, some of it eventually pollutes our environment.
Loose leaf teas are packaged with minimal materials and chemicals. They also become healthy compost for your backyard. Whether or not loose leaf teas are eco-friendly, it’s evident that they are less of an enemy.
Types of loose leaf tea
The real tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis, more popularly known as the tea plant or tea tree. It is endemic to China and India, with different cultivars sprawling all over the world. Each variety brings its unique nutritional and flavor profile.
Herbal tea is an exception! It is produced from any shrub other than the Camellia Sinensis. Herbal tea achieves a vast array of medicinal qualities without inviting caffeine to the recipe.
The whole leaves of real tea go through varying steps that give them a black, white, or green color. After the harvest, merchants of bagged tea collect remnants.
White tea is processed minimally. It’s sorted right after drying, simulating a mild and delicate taste. It’s a heart-healthy drink. White tea is chock-full of antioxidants and anti-microbial properties. It fights hypertension, colon cancer, and tooth decay like a faithful companion.
Hailed as medicine for a thousand diseases, green tea contains bioactive compounds the most. It has catechins and EGCC, aiding in weight loss and acne reduction. It is slightly oxidized, exhibiting a greener outlook with a smoky, vegetal flavor.
Black tea is the most consumed category. Its highly-oxidized leaves counter the dullness of mind and body. Known to prevent cardiac problems, it has a balanced concentration of caffeine. It offers Vitamin A, C, B1, B6, and an ample supply of polyphenols.
The leaves of oolong tea are half-fermented and oxidized until they turn red-orange. It falls somewhere between green and black variants. It comes with a blend of their benefits and boldness. Oolong amplifies the weight-loss qualities.
Pu’er tea is fermented once withered and rolled. It improves digestion, metabolism, and blood pressure. In addition, carbohydrate compounds may lower blood sugar levels. Thus, the earthy-flavored drink can substitute coffee for type-II diabetic patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is loose leaf tea so expensive?
The cost of loose leaf tea might seem daunting for first-time shoppers. But it testifies to the product’s quality, sourcing, and sustainable impacts. Plus, you can top off your feasts with new flavors: malty Assam at breakfast or a cup of herbal chamomile tea.
Where to buy loose leaf tea?
If you’re lucky there is a tea house or coffee house in your neighborhood where you can probably buy all kinds of good quality tea leaves. And the large supermarkets are usually well-stocked with a large selection of different types of tea
If you can’t find any stores in your neighborhood, you’re bound to find a reputable vendor online. In fact, buying single-origin blends and gourmet teas is more convenient with e-commerce.
How long does loose leaf tea last?
Loose leaf tea comes with a longer shelf life, topping two years of use. The leaves may lose flavor, fragrance, and freshness once they go bad. You should undoubtedly dispose of expired tea. However, consuming it won’t be harmful.
Is loose leaf organic?
Loose tea is produced both organically and conventionally.
The former dispenses with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the tea plantations. This organic cultivation is less harmful to the ecosystem and also benefits the taste of the tea.
How to brew loose leaf teas?
When preparing loose leaf tea, you have to experiment a little! Every tea tastes different and every tea drinker has different preferences in terms of taste. So just try out how many spoonfuls of tea leaves you need and how long to let the tea steep to get the perfect cup of tea.
Different types of tea require different dosages, different water temperatures, and different brewing times.
- The more tea leaves, the stronger the tea
- The longer the brewing time, the more intense the taste
- The hotter the water, the shorter the brewing time.
As a rough guide, you can start with one level teaspoon of loose tea leaves per cup of tea.
Brew a cup of loose leaf tea by adding a teaspoon of leaves with every six ounces of water. Teapots with built-in strainers and removable infusers are perfect to steep such leaves. Also, you can french press them anytime.
The recommended serving size, steeping time, and temperature are given on instruction labels.