There is no “right” way to drink tea. But what are the major differences that occur when one has loose leaf tea as opposed to using a tea bag?
The Short Answer:
There are a number of differences between loose leaf tea and tea bags, mostly centering around flavor and aroma.
The Long Answer:
There are three major differences between loose leaf tea and tea that is steeped in a bag. They are flavor, freshness, and quality.
A lot of tea enthusiasts absolutely swear by loose leaf tea, and with good reason. Brewing tea in this manner allows infusion of the entire leaf. The end result is a very full and fresh flavor that you can’t get from a tea bag. Typically, loose leaf teas utilize the entire leaf while tea bags cut the leaves up, often rolling them into different shapes.
A lot of what you receive in a machine produced tea bag is actually tea dust and fannings, which can’t compete flavor-wise with an entire high-quality leaf. When you steep loose leaf tea in hot water you’re allowing subtle flavor nuances to be fully extracted and expand throughout. Loose leaf tea is also typically packaged loosely in airtight containers. This helps to seal in the flavor, allowing none of it to escape.
Another amazing benefit of loose leaf tea is its ability to be reused. You can steep the same leaves many times, creating several cups of tea from them. This gives you more bang for your buck.
On the other side of the coin, tea bags produce a singular flavor that is meant to stand up against external agents like milk and sugar. The bags that are used in mass-produced products are often bleached, which can add chemicals to your tea, offsetting the natural flavor of the leaves.
Unlike its loose leaf cousin, teabag flavor is fully extracted after only one steeping, thus there is no reusability factor.
Obviously, bagged tea is more plentiful and cost-effective than loose leaf tea, but those seeking a more complete tea experience need to try loose leaf.
Do you prefer loose leaf tea or bagged tea? What’s your favorite variety? Let us know!