All over the world, there are two ways of making tea, loose-leaf and tea bags. I am not a tea person, but I often find my tea lover friends arguing over comparing the taste of loose leaf and tea bags. Some of them prefer tea bags while some other loose leaves. But what is the difference between loose leaf and tea bags (Loose leaf Vs. Tea Bags)? Which one has more health benefits? These are the most conflicting topic you might ever hear of in the tea break with your tea lover friends. Before finding the answers to these questions, you need to know what tea bag and loose leaves are and how they operate.
What is Loose Leaf Tea?
Loose leaf is the tea leaves that do not come with pre-packaged tea bags. It is sold in bulk. As you immerse it in the water, it expands while infusing because the leaves soak water.
What is Tea Bag Tea?
The tea bag is a small packet containing tea leaves which is ready to steep in water. You need to immerse it in water to make an infusion. Brands worldwide use filter paper, food-grade plastic, and some times silk cotton as the tea bags. You can use it multiple times as long as it has extraction left in it. It performs the same function as a tea infuser. You may find a string attached at the top to remove the bag.
What are the differences between loose leaf and tea bags?/Loose Leaf Vs. Tea Bags
Though both loose leaf and tea bags come from the same plants and places, they still have many different aspects, including processing, taste, health benefits, etc. Some of the significant differences between them are as follows:
The majority of the tea bags are made from comparatively lower quality leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. Manufacturers around the world commonly use the C.T.C(crush, tear, curl) method to produce tea bags. First, the collected leaves are withered. Then it goes through a compression process followed by a mechanical shedding process. Before packing it, they are dried up. However, the process goes well with low-quality leaves to give them a more significant area to steep in water.
On the other hand, loose leaf is collected from high-quality leaves. For maintaining the high quality and flavor, the manufacturer uses the conventional method (hand-made). The process involves several stages to follow. Unlike the tea bag, first, it is dried to disappear moisture. Then it rolled through a machine followed by a chain of chemical reactions to bring out the best possible flavors. To make it darker and further intensify the taste, the oxidation or fermentation process lets oxygen interact with the chemicals. This stage also determines various tea, such as green tea, white tea, and black tea, with different oxidation ratios. Finally, in the firing stage, the leaves are dried and kept in storage.
The traditional orthodox manufacturing process ensures retention of the high-quality flavor, aroma, and character. Consequently, the use of the loose leaf containing healthy antioxidants will naturally benefit your health. That’s why companies worldwide tend to produce special teas with exotic flavors in the form of loose-leaf to retain most of its benefits.
The leaves are processed in tea bags until they turn into the form of dust or fannings. Throughout the process, many essential oils and others, resulting in loss of flavor, color, and other healthy components. We know how important it is for leaves to expand for better tastes. But this expansion is not easy within a tiny bag.
Using loose-leaf is more environmentally beneficial than a teabag. You can reuse loose leaf many times. For example, you can reuse the used loose leaf for composting plants afterward. But what happens with tea bags when you use them once? You throw it in the bin after using it. What could be more worse for the planet than throwing the used tea bags?
When it comes to freshness, the tea bags are less fresh than the loose leaves. Because the processing cycle of tea bags is not shorter, like loose leaves, it requires a certain amount of time to reach the consumption stage. As a result, maintaining the necessary level of freshness is not possible in tea bags. On the other hand, you can easily maintain a higher level of freshness for loose leaf.
Teabags are very convenient to use in any place. That’s why we often prefer teabags when traveling in the office as it is easy to carry and use to make tea. Moreover, people with little or no experience of loose brewing tea can easily use teabags. However, you may not always find the necessary equipment to brew everywhere. Another advantage of teabags is the wide availability in supermarkets, restaurants.
Whereas using loose leaves or tea infuser to make tea is too complex to use in these kinds of situation. You will rarely find them everywhere. Even you may need to purchase them online or mail order.
As the processing of teabags involves many stages to complete, each step incurs cost. No surprise, manufacturer add these cost while determining the price of the tea bags. Consequently, when you pay the price, a significant portion goes for the cost of whole processing.
On the contrary, buying loose leaf of the same quality is likely to cost you less than tea bags because it has fewer processing steps and hence the cost.
- you observe the market, you will notice the best teas are available mostly in loose-leaf form. If you compare them to tea bags, you will get superior quality of loose leaf for the same price. Because when you buy tea bags, you pay for the packaging process instead of paying for the production process that is more likely to give you superior flavor.
Control over brewing strength
The amount of tea leaf is limited in a teabag. You can use one, two, or more or even vary the amount of water to control the brewing strength to some degree. However, you can have more control with loose leaf because you can use the exact amount of leaves based on the level of strength you want.
Final Thoughts on Loose Leaf Vs. Tea Bags
Both loose leaf and tea bags have pros and cons. However, according to recent statistics, there is a significant rise in the loose-leaf market because it has more health benefits and a wide range of exotic flavors. Also, it is less expensive than tea bags as it uses minimal materials and involves a short processing cycle. That’s why expert often opines loose leaf tea better than bags. But still, people make choices based on their preferences. Nowadays, a tea lover cant start the day without a cup of tea. But they are more likely to use tea bags if they have it in their office. On the other hand, people who stay at home are more likely to prefer loose leaf over tea bags. Though most companies nowadays offer both options to enhance the customer number and experience, they may not provide the same best quality for both loose leaf and tea bags.