Loose leaf tea vs teabags – shedding some light on the age-old debate

If you are a big tea fan, no doubt you’ll have a packed cupboard with lots of different varieties of tea sold as loose leaf and teabags. There are positives to drinking both and in this blog we’ll look into the differences and things to consider – then you can decide for yourself. At Ahmad Tea, we sell loose leaf tea and teabags, and we love them equally. The decision for us is based on the occasion when we’ll drink the tea.

What’s the difference? (Aside from the obvious)

Loose Tea

Although loose leaf teas can vary in size and shape, they are typically made up of whole, unbroken leaves (orthodox tea) and there is no packaging that needs to be discarded after you’ve brewed each cup of tea. You’ll need to have a teapot to make the tea as well as a tea strainer, or maybe an infuser that sits in your teacup or teapot. Either way, the process takes slightly longer than using teabags.

Teabags usually have smaller pieces of tea in them, made through a production method called CTC (crush, tear, curl). As a result the tea has a larger surface area that allows the flavour and colour of the tea to penetrate the bag, into your cup of tea, faster. Making a cup of tea with a teabag is quick and easy and each teabag has the perfect amount of tea in it to make a tasty cup. Many teabags can now be home composted after they have been used.

Teabag

Which one’s better?

At Ahmad Tea we believe each way makes a delicious cup of tea and we are a fan of them equally! If you have both the time and equipment there is something so beautiful about loose leaf tea slowly unfurling in hot water creating a delicious pot of tea. There are several steps to making loose leaf tea and each one is an opportunity to reset, relax and enjoy a mindful moment. There’s also something stylish and elegant about pouring tea from a teapot and choosing a cup for the occasion.

However, all of us lead busy lives and, although nowadays many teapots and cups have inbuilt strainers, sometimes it’s simply not practical for us to have the necessary equipment whenever we may want a cup of tea. We love teabags as they consistently produce a convenient and delicious cup of tea. Our highly skilled tea blenders work tirelessly to create the perfect tasting tea, consistently. Teabags can be used anywhere and often the process can be much quicker than with loose leaf tea.

Different situations lend themselves to brewing tea in different ways. For example in the workplace it’s far easier and quicker to make a cup of tea with a teabag. Whereas at home, many people like to take their time to brew a pot of loose leaf tea and enjoy each step of the process.

You may have heard it said that loose tea is better quality, but in reality both loose and teabag tea can vary greatly in quality. The region of origin, the season of production, the weather during the growing period, the management of the tea garden and the manufacturing process will impact its flavour far more than the format it is sold in. What can be said for loose tea is that, in a pot, the temperature is better maintained and the tea has more room to brew. However if a teabag contains a good quality blend and is prepared properly, the result can be just as good.

If you fancy switching to trying loose leaf tea, below are some general simple instructions to follow. You’ll find specific instructions for each blend on its packaging.

  1. Add one teaspoonful of tea per person to the teapot, plus, as per British tradition, ‘one for the pot’. We always find it’s better to brew the tea stronger, as your guests can always add extra water/milk if they like it a little milder.
  2. Using freshly drawn and, where possible, filtered water, fill your kettle to match your number of cups.
  3. Boil your kettle then pour, or, if your tea requires slightly cooler water (as some green teas do), wait a few moments.
  4. Place the lid on your pot and brew for the amount of time stipulated on the packet.
  5. Stir, then pour and strain the tea into your cup. With some high quality oolong and green teas you can often re-brew the leaves – in which case repeat steps 2-5
  6. Add any extras to your taste – milk, lemon, honey, mint leaves etc.
  7. Enjoy!

The wonderful thing about tea is that there are so many varieties to try. Expand your horizons and travel round the world through your tea cup. If you like black tea, why not try a black tea from a different origin? For example, teas grown in the Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling, India, can taste very different to those grown in the lower lying areas of Sri Lanka.  If you enjoy a green tea, perhaps you may be interested in an oolong too, where the method how the leaves are processed can give the infusion its own distinct character. Have you tried flavoured teas or cold brew teas? The opportunities are endless with tea!

Explore the range of Ahmad Tea loose & teabag teas.

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