There is a whole lot of speculation these days as to why loose leaf teas are better than teabags. Most of us do not understand the difference between the two and hence cannot make an informed decision. Here we talk about why loose leaf tea has a superior quality as compared to teabags and how one can make the switch from teabags to loose leaf.
Loose leaf teas are made up primarily of whole unbroken leaves; the more the tea leaf retains its shape, the better it is considered. Teabags are usually made from the opposite – low quality tea such as dust and fannings. Dust and fannings are smaller pieces of tea, so they have a larger surface area than whole leaves. A larger surface area means more opportunities for the essential oils (what makes tea flavourful and aromatic) to evaporate, leaving the tea dull and stale. As a result of this teas in teabags usually lack freshness, especially if they are packed in paper boxes. Certain loose teas like steamed Japanese green tea are naturally broken during processing. Thus, while they are not technically whole leaf, they are of premium quality. These teas too face issues with freshness but not as much as in teabags.
When a tea is steeped, it requires room as they need to absorb water and expand as they infuse so that they can release their flavour to the fullest extent. This allows the water to flow through the leaves and extract a wide range of vitamins, minerals, flavours, and aromas from the leaves.
When you steep tea in a teabag, its infusion is limited by the size of the teabag. Packing full-loose leaf tea into a small teabag won't yield a very flavourful cup. For many years, the teabag industry adapted tea to the teabag.
By filling teabags with smaller particles of tea (rather than whole leaves), the surface area and infusion rate of the tea is increased. A more flavourful (though not particularly high quality) brew results. It is cheap and easy and thus caught on.
More recently, some tea merchants have decided to adapt the teabag to the tea. Instead of using flat-tasting grades of tea (tiny, broken leaves known as "dust" and "fannings"), they are opting for higher grades of tea with more sophisticated flavor profiles and aromas. They are getting better brews from these leaves than they would with traditional teabags by putting them into plus-size teabags, "tea pouches" and "tea socks," as well as "pyramid bags" (pyramid-shaped teabags). All of these teabag variations allow the leaves to expand more than traditional teabags, thus creating a better brew.
Switching from a tea bag to a loose tea might be overwhelming for some. To make the shift an easy one, we at The Tea Trove provide loose tea leaf filters with each box of tea. Be it a premium Darjeeling first flush, or herbal tea like chamomile, hibiscus, or spices, each tea can be filled into these tea filters and used just as conveniently as a teabag.
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