Are Loose Leaf Teas Better Than Tea Bags?

Preparing loose-leaf tea may require a bit more effort than using a tea bag, however, but when it comes to maximizing flavour and aroma, loose-leaf tea is inarguably better. Let’s go over the differences, and some pros and cons of both sides.

Loose leaf

  • Convenience- special equipment, such as the mesh infuser, makes preparing and cleaning up loose-leaf tea quite easy
  • Freshness & quality- fresh leave will stay fresher longer, if stored properly.
  • Flavour- loose leaf tea is made of whole leaves that still contain aromatic oils. This accounts for a more complex, full-flavoured cup.
  • Value- most people think that loose-leaf tea is expensive. Making a cup of tea requires only a small amount of loose-leaf. Some kinds of tea, such as oolong and pu-erh, also makes it possible to infuse the same leaves more than once, lowering the price per cup.
  • Environmental friendliness- loose leaves are biodegradable, and break down in the soil very quickly, so are good for composting
  • Infusion- loose leaves release the flavor gradually into the water, which means their strength isn’t spent all at once, saving some character for further infusions.

Tea Bags

  • Convenience- overall, tea bags are generally more convenience as they eliminate the need for a strainer, teapot, or infuser, making it more convenient and easier to clean
  • Freshness & quality- commercial tea bags are filled with the smallest pieces of the lowest grade commodity black tea. In fact, many of them are made up of the dust and fannings of full leaf tea. This is why they easily lose their flavor and aroma, regardless of how they are stored.
  • Flavor- the tea used in tea bags loses many of its essential oils and aroma during processing. Because of this, tea bags have complexity of flavour. They also release more tannins when infused, which can result in a bitter & astringent drink
  • Value- a box of tea bags is relatively cheaper compared to loose tea, but in reality, the price per cup is similar to that of loose-leaf, since loose-leaf can be used for multiple infusions and tea bags can only be used once. Tea bags also have a shorter shelf life.
  • Environmental friendliness- majority of tea bags used by commercial brands contain small amounts of plastic which will take years to degrade.
  • Infusion- The size of the tea bag limits the infusion ability, which means it’s restricting the movement of tea leaves and preventing the brew from diffusing beyond the inside of the bag.

Loose leaf teas offer more flavor, aroma, antioxidants, and pleasure than the tiny leaf bits and tea dust inside most commercial tea bags. Typical tea bags are produced on an industrial scale and may be stored in a warehouse and on store shelves for months, even years,  before they are purchased. Not only does an older product have less nutritional benefits, but the bags containing the tea can actually filter out some of the vitamins found in the tea leaves themselves. These low-grade leaves are usually picked, processed, and packaged by machines. In contrast, loose-leaf teas are carefully hand-selected and crafted by tea masters.

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about going with what you enjoy. If you are a regular tea drinker, or if you’re starting out and you want to fully experience what loose leaf tea has to offer, the loose leaf investment is worth the extra chunk of change. Loose leaf is fresher, brighter and makes for an overall better drinking experience.

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