Today, lets get into a bit of controversial topic in the tea world, loose leaf vs teabags. Though the answer on which is better quality seems obvious and clear that it would be loose leaf, we still have a number of people who prefer tea bag. Both loose leaf and tea bags have their advantages and disadvantages. Many tea lovers choose artisan loose leaf while others go teabag for a more convenience, and easy tea making.
Loose leaf is usually producing the orthodox (or handmade) way. Which needs an Artisan and time to accomplish. This is the traditional style of tea processing. With black tea for instance this process ensures large leaf grade and the best quality from the leaves. Conversely many teabags are made up of dust, the lowest grade of tea quality. The orthodox way tends to produce very little dust. Some tea houses stick to only orthodox methodology as quality is the highest for them. As an artisan craft it takes time as it focuses more on quality than quantity.
Commercial Tea bags are usually processed by the CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) methods instead. As the name implies, this is a method of Crushing, Tearing & Curling. With black tea for instance, this method ensures the making of large quantities of tea using machinery. This is done mainly do speed up the processing and to make the teas more affordable, since there is little if any human intervention required. However, we get mostly dust from the process and lesser full leaf grades. CTC teas can be in high quality too, though this method is for the maximization of the production levels by producing large quantities. There is very good consistency in the taste as well.
Most important factors for most tea lovers are freshness, quality and flavour. With Loose tea made the orthodox way, we tend to have very large leaf grades and a lot of full leaves. This allows us to us to enjoy the full potential of the leaf. It’s essential oils, aroma and flavour. When compared to tiny leaf particles which we call dust, dust lacks the essential oils, aroma and flavour as they would have been released when it was broken to pieces. Dust also tends to release more tannings after brewing which were the bitterness comes from.
Dust tea in tea bag is still very healthy, though the tea loses some of the nutrients and health attributes which it had because of the loss of some of the tea essential oils and flavour.
Tea making experience
One of the most important advantages that tea bag has over loose leaf is convenience. They are easier to buy as you can get them almost in every shop and all year through which is different from loose leaf.
There is not a lot of complications when brewing tea bags as its pre portioned for you already in the bag with the proper grammage and because its mostly dust, it diffuses immediately in hot water so no need to wait for brewing time for some people. Though because it diffuses faster it means more bitter. On the other hand, Loose tea is more of an experience. The excitement one gets after pouring water in the teapot or cup and watch while the leaf unravels; your nose is hit by a beautiful aroma while the tea brews and the colour of your cup changes, is indescribable. The tea itself has its own unique flavour profile. Some even go to the extent of steeping the tea more than once and each time it unravels something new in the taste.
So, in conclusion, if you like tea and looking for something quick easy to use and easily disposable, tea bags are your choice. If you a tea lover and in it for the full experience and really what to get the full potential of the tea from its health benefits, flavour and aroma, loose leaf is the go-to choose. If you want good quality tea but at the same time seek convenience, try the loose-leaf tea which is pre portioned already in a large tea bag. This is your go for choice. There is also other good quality tea bags which carry fannings which like the third grade when we grading tea. Happy Tea time!