If you love tea and you are struggling with making the switch to loose leaf tea from tea bags or don’t understand why you should, here is something to help you:
Tea bags have started to get a bad reputation with the glue and bleach residues they can contain, you will see below and in our previous blog post about them that they now contain plastic, none of which is truly or easily compostable.
We at Its Tea don’t like being negative however so here are some positive reasons to ditch the tea bag…
1 Better for the environment. This is a big one, as many people are starting to realise, there is plastic in teabags, in fact some big brands of teabag can contain up to 25%. 6 million cups of tea are brewed in the uk alone every day, that equals a lot of single use plastic waste. The plastic content means these teabags aren’t truly compostable unlike loose leaf tea which is totally compostable. Even some teabags which are being marketed as “biodegradable” aren’t easily compostable and don’t biodegrade without assistance so please don’t put them in your compost heap and in most places they have to go to the general waste.
2 Quality. There are several grades of tea. Loose leaf tea is the highest grade and it gives the best taste, and the best health benefits. The tea that goes into bags is the lowest quality. This grade of tea is known as dust or fannings. Fannings are the tea leaf particles that are left over and so small they could not be sold as loose leaf. Because the leaf is so broken and small they release more tannins and lose many of the natural anti oxidants and aromatics that give tea it’s flavour. This means a more flat and bitter tasting tea. Loose leaf tea retains more of the original anti oxidants and because it is hand picked and not machine harvested only the newest growth is contained providing a fuller flavour and freshness.
3 So much more flavourful. Recently at our tea tastings we have started comparing the flavour of teabags and loose leaf in a blind taste test. People can tell which is which every single time. In fact several times our tea testers have said they can smell which is the tea bag brew because it “smells like glue” compared to the full leaf brew.
4 Less chemicals. Both paper and silky teabags contain plastics such as polypropylene or nylon to add strength to the bag. Some are treated with substances like epichlorohydrin. Some bags are bleached and the tea washed with dextrose to cover the flavour. Substances like these leach into your drink when submerged in hot water. None of these substances should be involved in your teatime, brewing with a well sourced good quality loose leaf tea like the ones we sell is a simple solution to side step the issue of not knowing exactly what you’re drinking.
5 Mindful moments. There’s just something about the process of brewing loose leaf that can bring a few moments peace into everyday life. Taking the time to smell and appreciate the leaves, watching them open and change as they brew, smelling the liquor and watching the colour change. These are all things that you miss out on when brewing with a bag. Take a moment relax and that is a huge health benefit as well.
6 Budget.There’s a misconception that drinking loose leaf tea is a lot more costly than bagged tea. Once you’ve invested in an infuser not only does it open up a whole world of teas but it can actually work out cheaper. After all you’re not paying for the teabag itself, and it’s worth bearing in mind most loose leaf teas can be brewed more than once!
Making the switch to loose leaf tea
So how can you make the switch to loose leaf from saggy bags? The trick is finding the right infuser or brewing method for you. We are always happy to recommend something that works with your lifestyle, here are a few of the options we would recommend for getting started –
These infusers are one of our most popular styles of infuser, they are fairly universal. The infuser sits inside most styles of teapot, cup or mug and you put your leaves inside, and simply lift it out when your brewing time is up. They come with a handy drip tray so you don’t have to worry about any drips or spillage, it also doubles as a lid. These are great for any type of tea, particularly ones with very big leaves and leaves that you are intending to re-brew.
A great choice for people on the go these work for tea and coffee alike. With their own lid and drip tray these sturdy infusers are great for brewing at home or on the go. The fine mesh of the filter makes it suitable for the thinner needle shaped leaves as well as finely ground coffee. The filter and frame will take a bit of squashing so it is fine in a suitcase, laptop or handbag.
We stock lots of mugs that come with an infuser included, they are a great solution for brewing loose leaf if you tend to brew a cup at a time rather than a pot. They are also fantastic for desktop brewing at work. The infuser included in this style is spacious enough for larger leaf teas to expand and the mesh is so fine that you can brew tea with smaller leaves and pieces ( like rooibos ) without worrying it will come through the infuser into your cup. The lid helps retain heat and is great if you have a busy lifestyle.
The design of these is similar to a traditional teabag, the tea goes in the mesh ball part and the chain and charm dangle over the side of your cup or pot. To fill or empty you simply open the ball with a clip at the side. This style works great for smaller leaf teas like black and herbal teas.
Tea Tong Infuser
These are simple gadgets that are work with most teas, you squeeze the tongs to open them up, place your tea inside and pop it in your cup or pot, works for most types of tea except for teas such as Oolong where the leaves expand a lot.