Tea, when it began its journey as a drink, was made from loose leaf tea. The concept and idea of tea bags came into being much later.
Many people initially switched to tea bags for convenience.
However, seasoned tea lovers know that nothing is more superior to having a freshly brewed cup of tea made from loose leaves first thing in the morning.
Nevertheless, many people new to the tea world might not understand the superiority, and we are here to help with that.
Is loose leaf tea better?
Without a doubt, loose leaf tea wins over bagged tea. The whole leaves are better for your health. The quality of the tea leaves is better in loose leaf tea as they don’t contain dust and fanning. They provide deeper flavor and aroma and release more essential nutrients when brewed correctly.
What are loose leaf tea and bagged tea?
Before we get into anything, one must know what loose leaf tea is. It is worth noting that there is no significant difference. Loose leaf tea is simply just tea leaves that are harvested and processed without being bagged.
Bagged tea is simply loose leaf tea that is harvested, processed, and then bagged before those are solved. Loose leaf is more convenient as it can be directly added to hot water, let to steep, and then discarded soon after.
The difference in flavor between loose leaf and bagged tea
In terms of taste, there is no doubt that loose leaf tea is better than bagged tea.
By using loose leaf tea, you can adjust the flavor and strength of your tea according to your liking by adding fewer or more tea leaves.
With bagged tea, you can only control the brew time. If you want stronger tea, you would need to brew it longer.
This defeats the purpose of using bagged tea in the first place since many use it to save time.
Moreover, the size of the tea bag drastically reduces the fusibility of the tea leaves producing a less flavorful cup of tea.
However, most refined tea lovers sometimes fail to distinguish the difference in flavor, which does not make bagged tea a bad option after all.
The difference in quality between loose leaf and bagged tea
We all know that the flavor and aroma of loose leaf tea vary depending on how the leaves were cultivated and harvested.
However, how the tea leaves are processed plays a significant role in the quality difference between loose leaves and bagged tea.
When it comes to bagged tea, they are processed and packaged using a machine known as machine-driven Crush Tear Curl (CTC) and are packaged in bleached paper.
This reduces the quality of tea leaves and also includes dust and fanning. Moreover, these bagged teas are stored in warehouses for a long time which also affects the quality.
On the other hand, loose leaf teas are handpicked, sorted, and rolled, choosing only the most delicate quality tea leaves.
They aren’t stored in paper bags which expose them to humidity and air. Hence, loose leaf teas do not lose their flavor and aroma over time, unlike bagged tea.
The difference in freshness between loose leaf and bagged tea
As previously mentioned, bagged contains dust and fanning. These are considered the lowest quality, separated leaves.
Since the tea leaves in bagged tea are small, they deteriorate faster reduce the freshness of the tea when brewed.
Their packaging also exposes them to conditions that further reduce the freshness of the tea when brewed.
Hence tea made from tea bags isn’t considered the best when looking for a fresh cup first thing in the morning.
On the flip side, loose leaf tea is made from whole leaves and packaged in air-tight contained before being sold. Both their leaf size and the packaging material increase the long life of the tea and keep it fresh.
The difference in cost between loose leaf and bagged tea
The most significant disadvantage of loose leaf tea over bagged tea is the cost of cultivation, harvesting, production, and packaging.
Loose leaf tea has taken the lead in all aspects except this, but the cost is reasonable considering the work behind them.
As highlighted earlier, a loose leaf tea is handpicked, hand-rolled, and hand-sorted to only select the finest quality tea leaves.
This is labor-intensive and time-consuming, which makes the cost of purchasing loose leaf tea understandably higher.
Additionally, the packaging for loose leaf tea is well thought of. We all know that the tea quality is significantly impacted by how the tea is stored. Conditions like moisture, air, and exposure to sunlight can reduce the flavor and aroma of the tea.
Hence, air-tight tin packaging for loose leaf tea is considered an essential element for maintaining the quality of tea leaves but also adds to the cost.
In comparison, bagged tea is only as good as one infusion allows. You can re-brew tea using the same teabag twice and expect a strong flavor. Hence, you would need to use more tea bags than the loose leaf tea to achieve the same taste, adding to the cost.
Environmental benefits of loose leaf tea
It is a known fact that plastic can take up to 1000 years to degrade, which is alarming considering the current global warming situation.
Loose leaf tea packaging uses little to no plastic making it an ideal choice for environment activist or generally anyone the care about the environment.
On the other hand, bagged tea, although for the most part is compostable, comes with small plastic tags with each bag. This does not seem like much in the beginning but slowly adds up.
Frequently asked questions about loose leaf tea
Is loose leaf tea a healthier option than bagged tea?
Because loose leaf tea contains whole leaves, it makes it a healthier option. Whole leaves contain more components like antioxidants, minerals, and phenols which are better for your health.
Are there any drawbacks to using loose leaf tea?
Speaking objectively, using loose leaf tea has no drawbacks except that it is more expensive than bagged teas, takes more time to brew, and requires more preparation.