Are you getting your money’s worth for your tea? If you’re a tea aficionado and still using tea bags, it’s time to make the change to loose leaf. You’ll love the difference.
What’s the difference between loose leaf tea and tea bags?
The most obvious difference between loose leaf tea and tea bags is how they’re sold. Tea bags have individually portioned servings of tea, making them convenient to use. However, this convenience can come at the cost of the tea experience.
Loose leaf, as the name suggests, is tea that is loose. This means you can choose how much tea you want to steep for your morning cup or an afternoon pot. You’ll find that loose leaf tea offers a better overall tea experience.
Many tea drinkers cite the better flavour as a major reason for embracing loose leaf tea. High quality loose leaf tea offers a richer, more complex flavour profile compared to tea bags.
When you purchase loose leaf, you’re getting whole, unbroken leaves. This means the essential oils that give flavour to your tea have not had a chance to leach from the leaves. Conversely, tea bags often contain broken leaves, including the dust and fannings from tea leaves. Therefore, there are less essential oils left in the leaves to flavour your tea. This can make for a bland beverage. However, if you like adding lots of milk and sugar to your tea though, then tea bags might be fine for you.
There has been a push in recent years for better tasting tea from tea bags. As a result, some tea bags now have higher quality tea leaves inside. They aren’t whole leaf though and are not as likely to have the same flavour intensity.
Tea bags though, are designed to be standardised so you always get the same taste. If you’re a fan of a particular flavour, this may just be what you want. But, if you love to explore the complexities and subtleties of tea, you’ll likely appreciate whole leaf tea more.
Whole leaf teas have become known as specialty brews because of the range of flavours available. These flavours can also change between regions, years and even seasons. This is because the leaves are less processed. Choosing an organic tea will also mean the leaves are processed less too, so you won’t miss out on any flavour.
Part of the flavour of your cup of tea also comes from how it’s brewed. If water can freely move around the leaf, more of the flavours can be extracted, resulting in a tastier cup of tea. This is easy to achieve with loose leaf tea but a problem for tea bags.
While tea bags are convenient, the bag limits the movement of water around the leaves. Therefore, less of the flavour is extracted. However, recent advances in the tea industry have led to differently shaped bags to try and fix this problem. For instance, pyramid-shaped bags are a good option, yet not as effective as traditional loose leaf.
The Calming Ritual
Finally, many tea enthusiasts enjoy the ritual required to steep loose leaf tea. The steeping process can be a chance to participate in some mindfulness during a busy day, as you let the tea slowly brew.
Unfortunately, as tea bags are designed to be convenient, it can be hard to achieve the same effect when using them. This process requires little effort from you and can be done almost mindlessly. Therefore, you may miss out on a moment of relaxation during your day for the sake of a quick and easy beverage.
It’s easy to understand why loose leaf tea has risen in popularity in recent years. Its strong and unique flavours are key to its reputation, as well as the opportunity it presents to take a relaxing break from a busy day.