When you’re used to making tea with a tea bag, the world of loose leaf tea can be a little intimidating. There are so many different types of tea and so many different ways to brew it – how do you get started? That’s why we decided to put together this two-part beginner’s guide to loose leaf tea. After reading this post and the next, you’ll know everything you need to approach your next cup of loose leaf tea with confidence.
Loose Leaf Tea: The Basics
So what is loose leaf tea, anyway? It’s tea that comes loose rather than sealed up in teabags. Unlike most bagged tea, loose leaf tea uses full tea leaves instead of “dust and fannings” from broken leaves. Because there is no constricting bag, loose leaf teas are able to unfurl fully while brewing. The result is a richer flavor, better aroma, and more nutrition from every cup.
Choosing the Right Kind of Loose Leaf Tea
Much of your success when brewing tea comes from understanding the type of tea you’re working with. The best way to get started is to choose a tea that suits your taste. There is a world of tea out there, but these six major types are a great way to get started:
- White Tea: Made from new growth buds and young leaves, white tea has a light, subtle flavor. It contains very little caffeine, making it a great choice if you’re trying to cut back. Choose this tea if you’re looking for a light drink to try any time of day.
- Green Tea: One of the most popular types of tea, green tea is known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants. You’ll find a huge variety in flavor between different types of green teas, so don’t be afraid to experiment. While green tea does contain some caffeine, it is much less than a cup of coffee.
- Black Tea: The perfect choice for breakfast, black loose leaf tea usually comes with bold flavors and a nice little kick of caffeine. Black tea is probably the most common type of tea in the west: you’ll find it enjoyed hot and cold, sweetened and plain almost everywhere you go.
- Rooibos Tea: This South African tea is made from the red bush plant – a different variety than most other teas. With a floral aroma, a naturally sweet flavor, and absolutely no caffeine, Rooibos is easy to enjoy any time of day.
- Oolong Tea: This Chinese tea offers a very full, sweet flavor that varies dramatically based on how it is processed. Somewhere between green and black tea in both intensity and caffeine content, Oolong is a great alternative to the flavors most commonly associated with tea.
- Herbal Tea: Herbal teas are made from dried fruits, flowers, and herbs, giving them a huge range in flavor. Cinnamon, mint, chamomile, and peppermint are all common among herbal teas, but there are many other flavors to explore. Herbal tea is free of caffeine, making it safe to enjoy any time of day.
Storing Your Loose Leaf Tea
Before you start brewing, make sure you know how to store your tea. Tea is happiest in a tightly sealed container. Keep your tea in a dark, cool place to extend its life, but be careful not to place it next to anything with a strong aroma – tea can pick up other flavors very easily.
Come back for our next post on second part of this beginner’s guide to loose leaf tea. Until then, let us know about your favorite type of tea in the comments below!