Tea Bags or Loose Tea – Which is Better?
The average tea consumer tends to purchase their tea at the supermarket, in convenient bagged form. However you’ll notice that many tea enthusiasts show disdain for tea bags, preferring to purchase their tea in loose leaf form. There are many reasons for that disdain, but let’s take a look at how much tea bags really do differ from loose tea.
First and foremost, tea bags make it easy to hide the low quality of inferior teas, usually made of what is termed tea “dust” made from very finely ground cheap leaves. The dust provides an almost instant deep dark color to your tea and has a strong, consistent flavor from one cup to the next. This consistency is one of the advantages of bagged tea over loose tea as bagged tea tends to be much more consistent from batch to batch. With loose tea you can see the quality of the leaves yourself.
Additionally, when using loose tea, you can brew an amount of leaves according to your taste. Pre-bagged tea is already rationed into equal portions of tea that may provide a stronger or weaker flavor that what you would like to taste. With loose leaf tea, you can measure your tea to the strength you prefer.
Because, as I mentioned earlier, bagged tea is usually much more finely ground than loose leaf tea, bagged tea goes stale a lot faster than properly stored loose tea. Especially if the bagged are wrapped in paper instead of foil , the airflow through the tea leaves is increased and therefore causes the tea to lose it’s flavor more quickly. Foil wrapped teabags are much preferred over paper-wrapped bags. However loose tea keeps it’s flavor and aroma much longer than bagged tea. All teas should optimally be stored in an opaque, dry and airtight container out of sunlight and away from sources of heat.
Some companies are now using triangular see-through bags made from mesh for their teabags, instead of the traditional flat rectangular bags, to allow the tea leaves to be properly infused with water (allowing the water to freely flow through the tea leaves) as well as allowing the tea leaves to unfurl completely, releasing the greatest amount of flavor into the water. Traditional tea bags do not offer these features and as you can see, can greatly influence your experience of your tea.
For these reasons, I recommend that you use loose tea ideally, using an infuser or strainer to brew the leaves. However if you must use bagged tea for the convenience, try to use the mesh pyramid bags as they are almost always of a higher quality than traditional paper tea bags.