November 30, 2017

Which is better: Loose leaf or tea bag?

Which is better: Loose leaf or tea bag?

Like most tea drinkers out there, you probably wondered what makes a better cup of tea: loose-leaf or tea bag?

It's time to settle this once and for all!

What is a tea bag?

The humble tea bag was invented completely by chance by American tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan. In 1908, Sullivan sent pre-weighed samples of his tea to customers in small silk bags. He wanted to save time, so that the customer could simply decant the tea sample into a pot and brew it as normal. However, customers made the mistake of thinking that the bag was designed to aid the brewing process and put the whole bag in the tea pot.

Thomas Sullivan: the inventor of the tea bag
Thomas Sullivan, the accidental inventor of the teabag

Sullivan went on to redevelop the bag to make it more porous, after customer feedback that the silk was too fine and caused the tea bag to disintegrate. He changed the silk to gauze and the tea bags you are familiar with came to life.


Are teabags better than loose tea?

We hate to break it to you, but the answer is a big no. 

Unlike at the start of the 20th century, today the contents of tea bags are usually made from low tea grades, such as fannings. Fannings are small pieces of tea leaves leftover after the higher grade tea is sold. In the past, they were considered rejects of the manufacturing process.

Fannings have a larger surface area than whole leaves or loose tea leaves. There are more possibilities for the essential oils in the tea leaves, which give tea its distinctive aromatic flavour, to evaporate. Using tea bags will make your cup of tea to be stale and dull. 😖

It is difficult to retain the freshness of tea bags. There are methods to help maximise the freshness, but it is not the same as the freshness of loose tea. So your best bet is switching to loose-leaf tea instead. 😉

Green tea teabag in cup

Tea bags limit the brewing process. Loose leaf tea has the space to absorb water and to expand as they infuse in the water. This allows the water to extract a plethora of vitamin, minerals and aromas for your body to ingest.

Tea bag manufacturers have attempted to rectify this problem by redesigning and attempting to improve the water circulation in tea bags. Pyramids, circular and sock-shaped bags are some examples on the market. Although the result is slightly better, it still results diminishes the potential and flavour of your tea.

Do you save time with teabags?

You would think that tea bags are more convenient - the truth is that preparing loose-leaf tea takes you the same amount of time. It's a matter of seconds for you to add the loose tea into a tea diffuser and watch it brew, much the same as putting a tea bag into a pot. However, you will get a more refreshing cup of tea and taste more flavours from the leaf, due to the extra space for them to expand.

Tea strainer in cup


Surely, you would like to enjoy a more aromatic and flavorful cup of tea instead of the boring tea bag? Why not try it yourself and taste the difference. 


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