Why drink loose leaf tea?
The practice of drinking tea is thousands of years old and has bred strong rituals and cultural traditions the world over; from India’s renowned chai merchants, to Morocco’s mint tea, signifying hospitality and friendship, to Japan’s sacred tea ceremony, dating back to 9th century Buddhism. You could say it’s become a bit of an art form.
It’s no secret, tea, and how we drink it is a big deal and like most things in life, the rewards can only be reaped when it’s done properly… enter loose leaf tea. Below we dive into some of the main reasons for choosing to drink loose leaf tea.
Quality and Taste
As far as reaping those rewards, the processes at the source of production count. This involves how the tea is grown, harvested, sorted, packaged, and eventually transported. All of these steps affect the flavour profile of the resulting brew and while we don’t like to bag bagged tea too often the reasons for loose leaf tea are easily contrasted with dusty old tea bags.
We’re sorry to say that mass-produced tea bags, like Twinings or Lipton, are often made from dust fannings. They’re the leftover crumbs produced from fanning whole loose leaves, they’re dirt cheap and the most cost effective ingredient when quality is not a priority. This ‘tea’ pretty much blows the taste of your brew to smithereens giving you a bland, flat and diluted brew. Using fresh, whole, loose leaves, ensures high quality, nutrient density and a vibrant, full flavour.
Bulk and high yield tea harvesting for tea bags is often done by machine, meaning stems and seeds can end up with the leaves causing a bitter brew. Loose leaf tea production however requires discerning hands to select and pick the top most tender leaves (called the flush) which leads to a far superior taste.
You’d also expect to find bagged tea ingredients have come from afar and land in your cup unfortunately aged, sitting in warehouses and on supermarket shelves in boxes, unsealed, having long lost their aroma and flavour. Which is why here at Webster’s Tea we pay close attention to how our tea is stored and transported. By carefully considering everything between the origin and your mug we're able to control the condition of the loose leaves with quality and taste in mind.
Our problem with tea bags however, doesn’t stop with the contents alone but also the bags themselves.
Ever wonder why you shouldn’t throw tea bags on the compost? Because they’re partially made up of plastic. In fact only 70-80% of tea bags are made from paper fibre. According to The Guardian the rest is food grade plastic, a heat resistant nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
So not only are these tiny pieces of plastic being left behind and adding to our enormous plastic pollution problem, but the production process and heating of PET can create an estrogen-mimicking pollution (in your cup!) which is likely harmful to your health too. When you apply that to the enormous amounts of tea consumed worldwide, it packs quite a nasty punch. How wonderful though, that by swapping to loose leaf tea, we can help our environment and own health by consuming tea that is free from plastic and harmful chemicals, and is fully biodegradable. Sounds like a no brainer!
Brewing loose leaf tea and allowing yourself to take a natural timeout is a daily ritual that many of our foreign friends have kept alive for centuries and for good reason; it can lead to overall happiness and less stress. Now more than ever it’s easy to get swept up in a busy day but by learning to pause for a moment of awareness and mindfulness can lead to positive physical and psychological health benefits. Try taking a moment when you're in overdrive to have a cup of loose leaf, be present and focus on enjoying the brew. When smoko is over you’ll feel better for it and chances are you’ll be more productive when you get stuck back in.
So next time you’re thinking of dunking a tea bag and throwing it on the compost heap, think again! Choosing to drink loose leaf tea is an instant upgrade for your tastebuds, the environment, and even the ritual of pausing in a busy day can boost your mood for the better. We’d all do well to learn from what the rest of the world has been practicing for some time now; stopping for a quality cup of loose leaf tea.