You may be wondering, why is loose leaf tea better? It is far superior to the humble tea bag on several fronts. Before I sound too snooty, let’s chat about both the tea bag and loose leaf tea while considering a few factors: freshness, taste, health benefits, convenience, and cost.
Is loose leaf tea better when it comes to freshness? We know there’s nothing like a fresh cup of tea in the morning – or any time! But how fresh is the tea you’re drinking, really?
Let’s consider the tea bag first. Often, the tea in tea bags is grown and processed overseas, mass-produced in bulk. Then it has to travel to the factory for packaging, then again to sit on the shelf at the store until you come along in search of a nice cuppa to brew. Sometimes tea bags can sit on the shelf for months and even years before making it into your teapot.
Whilst loose leaf tea may have a similar amount of time to travel in the initial stages of production (depending on where the ingredients are coming from), there are typically fewer steps in the production process, meaning tea gets to its drinkers faster.
Tea bags are typically packaged in boxes and plastic-wrapped in bundles. Once you open the outer packaging, the porous surface of your tea bag is exposed to air and your tea begins to lose some of its freshness. Whilst some tea companies have tried to combat this problem by individually packaging each teabag, you then have the issue of unnecessary waste.
Comparatively, the ziplock packaging that many loose leaf teas come in is an advantage for freshness, minimizing the amount of air coming into contact with your tea. Fresher tea for longer!
Is loose leaf tea better when it comes to taste? Bad tasting tea is so disappointing, so let’s talk about which tea packaging usually tastes best.
In order to reach their full flavor potential, tea leaves need room to unfurl in the water. In the cramped quarters of a teabag, the leaves often don’t have room to do this. Brewing a cup of tea with a teabag often means dunking and swirling your teabag through the water in the hopes you’ll extract as much flavor as possible. With loose leaf tea, your leaves are free to unfurl and diffuse their flavor evenly throughout your cup.
In the production of tea bags, it is often the smaller, grainer, broken, or finely cut parts of the tea leaf that make it into your teabag. Because the leaves are so small and often contain other debris particles, it can result in a bitter cup of tea that makes your lips twist – and gets tossed down the sink.
Loose leaf tea is able to retain much of the entirety of the tea leaf, resulting in a fuller-bodied beverage without the bitterness. You can often see the ingredients in your loose leaf tea, whether its the leaf or fruit pieces. The wholeness of the product is a comfort because you know what you’re drinking, and it's better tasting overall.
Tea Health Benefits
Is loose leaf tea better when it comes to health benefits? Tea contains a number of bio-actives, which are nutrients that are non-essential but may impact your health. Whilst loose leaf tea may taste better, the tea in bags is usually cut finer, which can assist in the extraction of these bio-actives. So if you’re drinking primarily from a nutritional standpoint, you may prefer to drink bagged tea.
However, the general greater freshness of loose leaf tea usually means that the bio-actives are more potent. In terms of health benefits, the tea bag and loose leaf tea are on fairly even footing with one another.
Is loose leaf tea better in terms of convenience? The tea bag has risen in popularity partially due to its portability and ability to perfectly portion an amount of tea for a cup. Whilst this might seem like the best place for beginner tea drinkers to start, loose leaf tea is not as overwhelming as it might initially appear.
Plum Deluxe has quite a few wonderful articles to help you quickly master the art of brewing the perfect cup of loose leaf tea. It’s satisfying to learn these skills and, ultimately, to end up with a better cup of tea.
With the broad range of tea accessories on offer, you’re sure to find a tea infuser that suits your style and effort level. This stainless steel mesh ball infuser is a great option, and easily portable. There’s even a cute heart-shaped mesh infuser, so you can express your personality with your tea time.
My preference, however, is for the "nest" infusers which sit on top of your cup of choice and provide plenty of space for the tea to infuse. Check out the Victorian cone nest infuser or the beautiful Celestial nest infuser in metal as well as the cherry wood infuser with matching spoon.
Whilst tea bags are readily available from most stores, loose leaf teas are gaining in their popularity and are widely available from most grocery stores. If you’re looking for an even more convenient way to get your tea fix without even having to leave your home, consider starting a tea subscription! Loose leaf tea, mailed to your door. How easy is that?
If you are still a diehard tea bag lover, don’t worry – we still love you! We’ve even got these cool loose leaf tea filter bags. This way you can enjoy your Plum Deluxe loose leaf tea even if you don’t have an infuser handy. The design of these filter bags is innovative and allows plenty of room for your tea to expand.
Is loose leaf tea better when it comes to cost-effectiveness? Loose leaf tea sometimes gets a bad rap for being expensive, but this isn’t necessarily the case. With its increase in popularity, grocery stores have reduced the price of many loose leaf tea products.
Purchasing loose leaf tea online is another way to ensure you get a high-quality product for a great price. Keep an eye out for sales to pick up some of your favorite brews for a steal!
On the surface, tea bags may seem like the more affordable option, but due to their bulk nature and usually poorer quality tea, they can let you down on freshness and taste. Then the question we end up asking is, which tea gives us the best "bang for our buck?" Hands down, loose leaf tea wins.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking tea from tea bags, but hopefully this has helped you understand why loose leaf tea is better – and given you some time insight into why people are so passionate about it.