What is Loose Leaf Tea?
Tea is one of the oldest and most traditional drinks in the world! Other than water, tea is consumed more than any other beverage. So tea is the same no matter how it is packaged right? Wrong! I am going to guess that when most of you think of tea, you picture this: a tea cup with piping hot water ready to soak up the goodness that sits within the confines of a small, tea bag.
If you drink tea prepared this way we are here to tell you, you are not getting the best of the best. The bagged teas that can be purchased at grocery stores are manufactured in large amounts and sometimes sit on the shelves for months loosing flavor and growing stale.
Here at The Tea Shoppe we specialize in buying and selling quality, loose-leaf tea. Loose-leaf tea is tea that is not packaged or brewed in a tea bag. Loose leaf tea is made with the best ingredients, such as the whole tea leaf, unlike bagged teas that include seeds and stems, which can create a bitter taste.
Additionally, loose-leaf tea, while more costly up front, will save you money as you can scoop just the amount needed each time you brew and you can re-steep the tea several times. Loose-leaf tea will also help reduce your carbon footprint considering there is less waste from packaging associated with tea bags.
How to Brew Loose-Leaf Tea
There are several different types of teas. The most popular include:
Each of the forenamed types of teas comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which originated in Asia but is now being grown and cultivated across the globe. The above five categories of tea differ in the process in which they are made but there are certain brewing practices that are common across all types of tea such as:
- Always use filtered water and know the recommended water temperature for your type of tea (not every tea brews at the same temperature)
- Know the tea’s recommended amount per 8 oz of water
- Know the tea’s steep time before you begin brewing
When tea is steeped in a tea bag, its infusion is limited because of the size of the teabag. The tea bag is constraining the whole tea leaf, not letting it expand to its full flavor and aroma potential, which will not yield a flavorful drink.
Additionally, the bag material is often low-flow which prevents the tea from diffusing beyond the inside of the bag. That is why you see tea drinkers dipping, dunking and swirling their tea bags. Paper tea bags can even leave behind an unsavory paper taste in your cup.
Best Practices for Storing Loose Leaf Tea
- Keep your tea in a tightly sealed container (avoid using glass), something opaque is best as sunlight can damage the leaves overtime
- Store in a dark, cool place, away from direct sunlight, such as on a bookshelf or cupboard
Keep tea away from pungent foods, spices, etc. as tea can absorb the aroma of nearby products
- Label your tea containers so you know exactly what you’re drinking
When you are ready to steep your first cup of loose-leaf tea we offer various tea samplers so you can find your favorite brew! Or need some more convincing? Join us at one of our monthly tea tastings. The choice is yours! Let us know how your comparison of bagged and loose leaf tea fairs for you!