When I introduced my teas at my first wellness fair, I learned a valuable lesson: not to assume that everyone uses (or knows how to use) loose leaf tea. I’ll admit I still buy bagged tea for the sake of convenience. But when I feel like creating new flavors, scooping out my own herbs (and getting an herb dust high), seeing the colors and using my tea gadgets, bagged tea just isn’t as exciting to play with.
What is Loose Leaf Tea?
Loose leaf tea is basically tea that is loose, free, and running wild! Loose leaf tea can be brewed with reusable tea bags, a tea press, a tea strainer, or just put into a cup with hot water poured over it. In fact, there is even a special straw for drinking tea that has loose herb in it! Does this excite you as much as it does me? A tea straw!
Loose leaf tea is usually premium quality, less processed, and a little more expensive. However, you can usually steep the same tea leaves twice or even three times. So you get more tea-bang for your buck, in my opinion.
The Benefits Of Loose Leaf Tea
I love loose leaf tea for its flavor. I also like to see the beautiful colors and textures of the herbs. Bagged tea is sometimes just dust and lacking in flavor. In addition, bagged tea might contain harmful chemicals that leach into the tea leaves or water. Some tea bags are made out of plastic material – you know those silky pyramid tea bags? Yes, plastic! If you’re pouring piping hot water over a plastic tea bag, chances are that plastic is leaching into your tea.
Some of these tea bags are made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which may have an estrogen-mimicking effect (1) and I’m all about keeping estrogen in check, so no thanks – don’t need more if it in my tea. You know how they say you shouldn’t leave your plastic water bottles in the car or in the sun? That’s because sunlight and hot temperatures can cause chemicals from PET bottles to be leached into the water (2). And then you drink up all that PET. Yum.
Even the paper tea bags might be harmful as they can be coated with compounds that have been known to cause cancer and impair fertility. These tea bags may also be bleached with chlorine dioxide, which can disturb hormonal harmony and impair immune functioning (3).
And then to add insult to injury, tea bags might be sealed with glue. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really down for brewing up a hot cup of Glue Tea. Or PET Tea.
You might also find that many bagged teas consist of powder or dust as opposed to leaves and whole herbs. The problem with this is that when teas are broken down into a dust, they lose a lot of their beneficial oils. They also taste different than consuming tea in whole leaf/root form – bagged tea tends to be more bitter, less fresh, and might even taste like the bag itself. Plus, have you ever thought about how long you keep your bagged tea for? Tea has an expiration date just like food, folks!
So if you’re a tea lover and you want quality tea with bold flavors, I’d say give loose leaf tea a try.
Drinking loose leaf tea allows you to customize your flavor – making a lighter tea by adding less herbs or making a bolder tea by adding more. When you make a bolder tea, you can add nut milks, honey, vanilla, ice and still preserve the flavor of the tea. You can also mix it with other herbs to create your own blends.
Flavor tends to be better in loose leaf teas because the herbs are not pounded into a dust. They stay fresher for longer and have a superior flavor. They also don’t have a tea bag getting in the way of the brewing process or water flow.
The Benefits of Bagged Tea
Okay, so like I said, I do drink bagged tea on occasion. Sometimes I just don’t feel like opening my loose leaf tea cupboard, having an avalanche of tea fall on my head, finding the right herbs, and blending up a brew. Sometimes I just want to boil my water and pop a tea bag in a cup and call it good. This is definitely a big benefit that bagged tea has over loose leaf. It’s also a little more flexible – you can take it with you, especially if each tea bag is packaged. A downside to this though is that it creates more waste. And we already have enough of that going on.
As for cost, you could say that bagged tea is less expensive. But you pay for quality. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drink shitty tea. It doesn’t make me a snob, it just means I like to spend my money on stuff that tastes good!
How to Prepare Loose Leaf Tea
It’s simple! You’ll need to invest in a strainer of some sort, or a teapot that has a built in strainer. Some tea mugs also have built in strainers. See below for my favorite tea gadgets. After said product is acquired, you take your herbs, you put them in the strainer, you pour hot water over it, cover, and wait. Covering the herbs helps keep the volatile oils from escaping. Volatile oils are the oils in the plant that are released when hot water is poured over the herbs. Covering your tea could give you a bolder flavor, a more aromatic tea, and even the potential for more healing!
While you’re waiting for your tea to steep, do some jumping jacks, meditate, perform a jig in your kitchen. Then remove your herbs when your tea is to your liking. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your brew!
My Favorite Tea Gadgets
Do you prefer loose leaf tea or bagged tea? I’d love to get your opinion! Leave me a comment below. And happy brewing!