Hey There Teacups! For a while now I’ve been getting one questions repeatedly ” Which is better Loose Leaf Tea or Teabags?” I’ve been getting this question so much since I started my blog that I though I might as well answer it in a blog post rather than trying to answer everyone separately.
Before I compare loose leaf tea with tea bags, I just want to take a moment to talk about the different grades of tea as that really is the main difference between the two. When teas are produced, they are graded by size and quality. In order of highest to lowest, the grades fall into four basic groups: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust.
Whole leaf tea refers to tea where the leaves have not been broken or torn during production. They take the longest to infuse and can be used for multiple infusions (normally upto 2 to 3 infusions).
Broken leaf tea refers to tea where the leaves are broken, but the pieces are still large enough to be recognised as parts of whole leaf. While whole leaf tea is generally considered to be the best, there are broken leaf teas which are better than some of the whole leaf teas.
Fannings are finely broken pieces of leaves which still have a recognisable coarse texture.
Dust is what remains after the tea has passed through the grading machine. It is powdery in texture and is often swept off the floor. Dust is considered the lowest grade of tea. Please however note that tea that is made by pulverizing larger tea leaves, such as Matcha is not considered Dust.
Most teabags out there contain the dusts and fannings. The size and shape of teabags as well as the materials used restricts the tea and stops it from reaching it’s full potential flavour wise. This is the reason I get so annoyed when I see companies put whole or broken leaf tea into ‘Pyramid bags’ because no matter the quality of the tea that you put into the bags you are still restricting it and stopping it from being able to expand fully. If there was one thing I could ask the tea industry to stop doing that would be it. When you steep loose-leaf, it needs to have room for tea leaves to absorb water and expand as they infuse. This allows the water to flow through the leaves and extract a wide range of minerals, flavours and aromas from the leaves.
Don’t get me wrong when I first started getting into tea like most I started with teabags, that didn’t last long though after treating myself to loose lea tea for the first time I never looked back. Every time I drink loose leaf tea its like a treat to myself each time. The only time I ever drink bagged tea now is if I ever order tea in a restaurant and that’s all that they serve. (If only restaurants would invest in serving loose leaf tea – It would be a dream come true). While I’m at home though or travelling I always stick to loose leaf. Why wouldn’t you treat your self everyday if you could.
While I’m probably what you would call a loose leaf purist I know there are lots of people out there that will completely disagree with me and will have their own reasons as to why teabags reign supreme. This questions can only really be answered with personal experiences and tastes.
If you can make the change from teabags to loose leaf its something I highly suggest you do. You will look back at your past self and wonder why you ever just settled for bagged tea. It will help you to develop you’re flavour palette, you will learn so much about the wider world of tea and you’ll be introduced to a whole new community online, that is incredibly welcoming, supportive and endlessly creative.
My answer to this question is purely based on personal opinion, if you disagree with anything I’ve said in this post I honestly don’t mind. Let me know your opinions in the comments I’d love to have a further discussion on this topic.
Speak to you all again tomorrow, Happy Steeping – Kimberley