Since the creation and production of tea bags at the start of the 20th century, people have debated the advantages and disadvantages of loose tea leaves versus tea bags. Arguably, neither is a clear winner, and each have their specialities. Nonetheless, let’s take a closer look so you can decide which you would prefer for yourselves.
Loose tea is made up of whole leaves that are unbroken. They are usually the whole leaf teas which means they produce rich and fuller cups of tea. Such tea leaves can be steeped multiple times owing to this retention of flavour. These are the high-quality grade teas that appeal to most tea enthusiasts. Steeping loose tea leaves in water also ensures that every leaf interacts with the water, leading to a better infusion. When making milder teas like white tea, loose leaves help extract flavour with greater efficiency than tea bags. All traditional tea ceremonies - whether Gong Fu Tea Ceremony from China or Chanoyu from Japan will use loose tea leaves only.
The commercial tea bag is a modern invention – one made to increase the convenience of preparing the daily cuppa tea. Not everyone has the time, patience or tools to brew tea with whole leaves. Using a tea bag requires the least amount of time, precision and attention. However, tea bags are filled with lower-grade teas, such as dust and fannings. As they are smaller pieces of tea, they have a larger surface area. This means, it’s easier for these leaves to lose their essential oils and flavours through evaporation. This is only suitable for when you need an instant colour in your cup. Tea bags (generally made of bleached paper) aren’t reusable and can be steeped only once. These are stronger teas, that can withstand being mixed with sugar and milk too. The perfect compromise between convenience and quality.
This being said, at Tea Trunk, we use pyramid tea bags for convenience but they always hold whole leaf teas only, never compromising on the quality of our teas. I love knowing that the leaves soaking in hot water are unadulterated, fresh and wholesome. And the flavour obtained from them is undeniably lovely. What do you think – have you noticed a difference between loose tea and tea bags? We would love to hear from you. Do share your comments below.