If you’re like many Americans, when you want a cup of tea you reach for a bag instead of a tin of loose leaf tea. While tea bags may seem like the most convenient choice up front, it’s time to look a little deeper. Loose leaf tea comes with a number of amazing benefits that blow bagged tea out of the water – here are just a few:
Loose Leaf Tea Vs. Bagged Tea: How do They Stack Up?
Quality: One of the biggest (but not immediately obvious) differences between loose leaf and bagged leaf tea is leaf quality. The leaves used in many bagged teas are considered “dust and fannings.” In other words, they’re broken tea leaves. When tea leaves break down they lose many of their essential oils and aroma, which dramatically lowers the quality of the end result. Loose leaf tea, on the other hand, utilizes whole tea leaves. While you can find some tea bags that are filled with whole leaves, the end result is never as delicious when tea leaves are restricted by a bag.
Taste: Remember how broken tea leaves have lost many of their essential oils? This has huge repercussions when it comes to taste. Let’s face it: when you want a cup of tea, you’re hoping for something that tastes amazing. The broken tea found in most tea bags release more tannins than whole leaf teas, leading to brews that are bitter and astringent. Definitely not the tasty cup you were hoping for. While you could cover up the bitterness with milk and sugar, the taste of the tea quickly becomes lost. Loose leaf tea allows each leaf’s natural flavor to come through, creating a much more delicate (and delicious) beverage.
Shape: For the best flavor, tea leaves need room to expand. Most bagged tea don’t provide that kind of space, keeping all of the flavor locked up in the bag instead of permeating into your cup. Loose leaf teas have more space to open up, releasing more of their oils, flavors, and aromas and producing a higher quality cup.
Nutrition: Flavor and aroma aren’t the only things trapped by teabags. Brewing tea when it is tightly compressed also restricts your ability to fully extract its vitamins and nutrients. Loose tea, on the other hand, is able to release larger amounts of its nutritional goodness, allowing you to get more out of every sip.
Ritual: When you look back at tea drinking cultures over history you’ll find many beautiful rituals surrounding the drink’s preparation and service. Loose leaf tea gives you a connection to this history that bagged teas simply can’t provide. While modern equipment makes preparing loose leaf tea easier, you’ll still have a chance to take a moment or two out of your day. You’ll enjoy the beautiful colors of the different leaves in your tin of tea, enjoy its aroma as you scoop it into your pot, and hear the sound of your water heating up. Preparing loose leaf tea doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it does make for a delightful way to relax, take a deep breath, and take a break.
If you’ve only used teabags in the past, trying loose leaf tea can be a life-changing experience. Once you know the difference, you’ll never want to go back to teabags again.
Which do you prefer: loose leaf tea or teabags? Let us know which (and why) in the comments below!