Why loose leaf tea?
To continue on the theme of dining table and reducing the impact of the food we eat, I wanted to share why I love loose leaf tea. But I didn’t always love it… In fact, I was not a tea drinker myself until a few years ago. I used to hate drinking tea because all it tasted like to me was weird watery juice. I especially wanted nothing to do with that loose leaf stuff because it seemed like a lot of extra work. What is a tea steeper and why wouldn’t I choose doing all that myself if I could choose tea that already comes in a convenient little bag?
I only started drinking tea at work in the winters to keep me warm because my office was so cold. Adding lots of honey was the only way I would tolerate it at the time. Drinking tea was more of a necessity than an enjoyable activity – but boy how that’s changed!
A trip to China is actually to blame for my conversion to drinking tea because I want to AND I became a loose leaf tea fanatic at the same time! I brought back some loose leaf tea from a trip to China after getting used to drinking (or at least trying) tea at almost every meal. I started making this Chinese tea at home on occasion and this is ultimately what converted me.
It Tastes Better and has a Richer Flavor Profile
Loose leaf tea offers a much more nuanced and complex flavor profile compared to tea bags. Tea bags typically consist of tea dust and fannings, which are the broken fragments of tea leaves. These small pieces have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio, which means they release their flavor more quickly but also tend to be more bitter and astringent. On the other hand, loose leaf tea leaves are larger and have more room to expand in the water, resulting in a more full-bodied and nuanced flavor. Additionally, loose leaf tea is often made from higher-quality tea, which can lead to a richer, more enjoyable flavor experience.
Loose leaf tea is just so tasty! You can see the difference right away in the quality of the tea. Bagged tea is usually tiny pieces that are left over or even more processed from the larger tea leaves. Loose leaf is generally made from larger, whole leaves. When steeped, loose leaf expands like crazy and actually looks like leaves! The flavor that is a result is so satisfying – if you still can’t stand the taste, try starting out with some honey from your local farmer’s market.
Now, there are some fancy tea bags out there with awesome quality tea (these often come in a pyramid shaped bag to allow for nice expansion), but this brings me to my second point about why I love loose leaf tea.
Loose Leaf Tea Improves Your Sustainability by Producing Less Waste
Much less waste! Tea bags are often made from materials such as nylon or polyester, which can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. Additionally, many tea bags are treated with chemicals such as epichlorohydrin, which is used to strengthen the bag but can also be harmful to human health and the environment. Loose leaf tea, on the other hand, is typically packaged in biodegradable materials such as paper or plant-based compostable plastics, which are better for the environment. Additionally, many loose leaf teas are sourced from small-scale, sustainable farms, which helps support the local economy and protect biodiversity.
Loose leaf tea requires some extra equipment, such as a steeper spoon, pot, or even a French press all of which allow you to brew tea in different ways. But this is a one and done purchase that will be used over and over again. My favorite tool for steeping tea is this tea infuser. It is so easy to use and clean. All you have to do is scoop up the tea leaves directly with the spoon and plop it in the mug.
We compost the tea leaves when we are done and we enjoy our zero waste cup of tea! A note on tea bags – iff loose leaf tea is just not for you that’s ok! Regular paper tea bags are compostable and many tea companies package tea bags without wrapping each individual bag in its own package. This is still a good option.
Loose leaf tea offers so much more variety than bagged tea. Loose leaf tea comes in so many varieties and blends! It is so fun to explore all the different tea blends and flavor profiles either at a tea store or online. Many online tea retailers offer sample packs to try a bunch of different options before committing. Arbor Teas even packages their teas in compostable packaging!
The perfect zero waste gift, tea is one of my favorite souvenirs to bring home from a trip. It is the perfect reminder of that specific place that I can enjoy for many days to come, and an environmentally friendly gift to bring back for your tea-loving friends and family.
The Many Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Tea – Increased Antioxidants
Another benefit of loose leaf tea is that it contains higher levels of antioxidants compared to tea bags. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Loose leaf tea contains more of these beneficial compounds because the leaves are less processed and more intact, which helps preserve their natural antioxidant content. Regularly drinking loose leaf tea can help support overall health and wellness.
What are the Different Types of Tea?
Tea comes in many different varieties, each with its unique flavor, aroma, and health benefits. Here are some of the most popular types:
- Black Tea: This is the most common type of tea and is made from fully oxidized tea leaves. It is generally stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine than other types of tea.
- Green Tea: Green tea is made from unoxidized tea leaves and is known for its delicate and fresh taste. It contains less caffeine than black tea and is rich in antioxidants.
- White Tea: White tea is the least processed type of tea and is made from the young buds and leaves of the tea plant. It has a subtle and delicate flavor and is known for its high antioxidant content.
- Oolong Tea: Oolong tea is partially oxidized, making it a cross between black and green tea. It has a fruity and floral flavor and is known for its weight loss and metabolism-boosting properties.
- Pu-erh Tea: This is a fermented tea that is aged for several years before being consumed. It has a rich, earthy flavor and is believed to aid in digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
- Herbal Tea: Herbal teas are not made from the tea plant but instead from a variety of herbs, fruits, and flowers. They come in a wide range of flavors and are often consumed for their therapeutic properties.
- Rooibos Tea: Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free herbal tea made from the leaves of the Rooibos plant. It has a sweet and nutty flavor and is known for its high antioxidant content and calming properties.
- Matcha: Matcha is a type of green tea that is ground into a fine powder and whisked with hot water. It has a vibrant green color and a strong, earthy flavor. It is high in antioxidants and is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body.
While I prefer green teas, my husband is more of an oolong and black tea fan. No matter which kind you choose, you can’t go wrong – although it does depend on whether you’re looking for some caffeine or not.
In short, loose leaf tea tastes better, is better for you, produces less waste and comes in more varieties. There’s no downside! Try it out now and if you have any tea loving friends or family, it’s a safe and easy gift to give as well. If you haven’t tried loose leaf tea yet, you should absolutely consider making the switch and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.