Why Loose Leaf Tea?

Jul 7th 2009
Education, News

Is loose leaf tea better than tea bags?Tea bags are convenient. Its no wonder bagged tea is the primary method most of the western world uses to make a “cuppa”. What is the real difference between loose and bagged teas?

We encourage you to open a tea bag and look at its contents. Inside even some of the most gourmet tea bags you will find tea dust, or “Fannings”.

Contents of a "goumet" tea bag.

Black tea from a popular gourmet tea bag $2.72/oz = 19 cents per cup

Fannings are pulverized tea leaves broken so small they no longer resemble a leaf. The advantage to brewing Fannings is its quick infusion time. Unfortunately, when tea leaves are broken like this, the flavor-carrying oils evaporate and are lost much quicker than in their whole-leaf counterparts. Plus, bitter or astringent qualities tend to steep out quicker. Tea used in teabags is from low-quality, mass-production varieties and generally has a limited flavor profile. One taste of loose tea, and teabags will be a distant memory.Silken & Pyramid tea bags $7.54/oz = 66 cents per cup

Silken tea ba

New silken and pyramidal teabags have been introduced to the market with the intention of providing better quality tea in a convenient teabag. It is true in many cases that the tea leaves found in these bags are, in fact, kept more whole than what is found in traditional teabags. However, the specialized packaging also creates a much higher price - a testament to the quality of packaging, not the taste of the tea. And in this day of over-packaging, who wants to contribute to filling our all-too-common landfills?

Loose Leaf Tea

Premium loose-leaf black tea. $2.50/oz = 16 cents per cup

Alternately, loose-leaf tea is left all or mostly intact, thus preserving the leaves’ flavor. The contrast is quite amazing. The most remarkable thing about loose-leaf versus bagged teas is the fact that loose-leaf teas are often a better value.Per cup, even the most supreme quality loose-leaf teas can be the same price as a low-quality bagged counterpart. The difference lies in what you are buying. Loose teas can be steeped with re-usable basket-type infusers or compostable paper tea sacks, thus helping keep our environment healthy