Despite tea specialists having long revered loose-leaf tea and touted it over tea bags, many people still resist the best of the best in flavour, instead opting for Thomas Sullivan’s time-saving (although admittedly accidental) invention. This discrepancy roots from many people’s notable unfamiliarity with loose leaf teas, having drank from tea bags all their lives. Today, we are going to learn why loose-leaf is so much better, both in flavour and reusability.
One of the greatest factors that influence the taste of the tea is the size of the leaf. Tea fannings (or dusts) are usually inserted into commercial tea bags – the sort you will buy from the supermarket shelf. They offer faster brewing times at a cost of flavour; fannings do not have the same full-flavour that whole leaves do, and in addition they cannot unfurl, which disallows some of the more subtle and complex flavours of tea to permeate the drink. This means that, unfortunately, while you may be saving yourself some time, you’re not allowing tea to be everything that it could be.
The quality of tea in many mass-produced teabags is also not particularly startling. Since the tea is to be ground up into fannings, it would be a waste for suppliers to use the high-quality tea that could be sold upmarket to gain a higher price. Furthermore, an extra processing step must be added to crush the tea into a fine powder; while this leads to easier infusion in the tea bag, it also destroys some of the work that went into the tea’s creation.
While it may be true that bagged tea is cheaper, in the end you’re still sacrificing quality for quantity. Good quality loose-leaf tea isn’t actually particularly expensive if you take the time to find it (especially when you consider that you can infuse many lighter-coloured teas multiple times), and you might be surprised about just how much better it is!
For those of you who are just as passionate about loose-leaf tea as we are, Australian Tea Masters offers a Rare Tea Club, where you can get beautiful and interesting loose-leaf teas delivered to your door every month.