Loose leaf vs tea bags. A feud as old as time. Or, at least, as old as tea bags.
It’s hard to say what makes this such an enduring rivalry. But nevertheless, every tea drinker has a personal preference, and will defend their chosen method of brewing to the bitter end.
And while there can be no sweeping statements, broadly speaking there are some important differences between loose leaf tea and tea bags. And to weigh in on the matter, we thought we’d throw in our opinion.
But be warned: as a company that specialises loose leaf tea, we may be a little biased…
And with that said, let us share with you why we think loose leaf is the best way to drink your tea!
Plastic is a big issue on the minds of shoppers these days. And more consumers than ever before are making a conscious effort to reduce the environmental impact of their weekly grocery haul.
The problem with tea bags is that lots of them still contain plastic, which means they’re not 100% biodegradable. And though several companies are taking steps towards removing plastic from their tea bags, it’s still not an industry-wide practise.
This is, in our book at least, one of the major advantages of loose leaf over tea bags. Because there are no bags, and the only packaging is the stuff the leaves come in.
Again, this isn’t universal, but often the quality of loose leaf tea is a step above tea bags. The reason for this is a combination of the tea itself and the steeping process.
First of all, there are four primary categories of tea: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust. In a nutshell, here’s what each of those means:
– Whole leaf: this refers to tea leaves that have not been broken during production.
– Broken leaf: the leaves are broken, but still quite large and recognisable as part of a whole leaf.
– Fannings: finely broken pieces with a coarse texture.
– Dust: the powdery remnants of the tea after it has passed through a grinding machine.
Now, the contents of an average-quality tea bag are more often than not made up of fannings and dust. One of the reasons for the lowered quality of these types of leaves is that they have lost most of their essential oils. And they release more tannins when brewed than loose leaf, which results in a more bitter taste.
Another thing to consider is that traditional tea bags don’t give tea leaves the room they need to expand whilst brewing (which is why you often have to squeeze the bag to get all the flavour out).
Variety and flexibility
Now it goes without saying that no matter what your preference is, there’s a lot of tea to choose from. Just browse the tea and coffee aisle of your local supermarket and no doubt you’ll find countless herbal and infusion tea bags on sale.
But it must be said that in terms of the sheer variety of flavours and blends, loose leaf comes out on top. There are just so many combinations of blends on the market it’s dazzling!
Also, loose leaf allows you to be more flexible with your brewing preferences. This is because it allows you to alter the amount of tea in your pot down to the last leaf. So it’s much easier to alter the potency of your drink.
Drink (loose leaf) tea
Of course, blogs like this are all down to opinion. The reality is that no one can say for certain which is the superior type of tea, because everyone has their own personal preferences.
And though it’s fun to compare, when it comes right down to it tea is a wonderful beverage no matter how you take it. And as long as you enjoy your daily brew, it doesn’t matter so much whether you prefer it loose, bagged, boiled, or iced, as long as you enjoy it!
For more on all things teatime, take a look at our blog, where we share lots of thoughts and facts on the wonderful world of tea!