29. June 2012 10:46
Tea is the second-most popular beverage in the world, so the chances are good that you’ve enjoyed a hot cup of this soothing brew. Maybe it’s even one of your favorite drinks. Given the global popularity that tea has enjoyed for the past few hundred years, it’s not surprising that it has evolved into a quick, convenient option. For many people around the world (including most Americans), brewing tea is as easy as steeping a store-bought tea bag in a cup of boiling water. In fact, since its inception in the early 1900s, the tea bag has become extremely popular for its convenience. A trip to nearly any grocery store will reveal the immense success of the tea bag; in an aisle full of various flavors, styles, and types of tea available in bags, you’ll scarcely find a serving of the tea bag’s predecessor: loose tea leaves.
But with tea bags so convenient, so easy, so readily available, why make the switch to loose-leaf tea? You might be surprised to learn that loose leaf tea actually offers lots of benefits over its pre-bagged cousin. Perhaps the most important difference is the quality of flavor. Bagged teas contain broken (or even ground) tea leaves, which are usually the waste left over from sorting out the far superior whole leaves to be used in loose leaf tea. Much of the leaves’ essential oils are lost in the breaking or grinding process used in producing bagged tea. Whole tea leaves retain their essential oils far longer, resulting in a more true and robust flavor. The bag itself can compromise the flavor of your tea, as well. For the tea leaves to properly steep and fully develop their flavor, they must have enough room for water to circulate through them. The small, flat design of most tea bags restricts water flow, thus limiting the steeping process (and your enjoyment of your tea!). As an added bonus, buying your tea loose allows you to experiment with different blends and discover the flavor combinations that perfectly suit your taste.
If better flavor isn’t enough to inspire you to switch to loose leaf tea, maybe the nutritional benefits will. Ounce for ounce, it’s hard to find another natural beverage that packs a more powerful nutritional punch than a cup of brewed, loose leaf tea. The essential oils are the key here, too; it’s these oils that contain the natural chemical compounds which are so beneficial. Loose leaf tea isn’t just good for your body, either. It’s also healthier for your wallet. When you buy your tea pre-bagged, you’re buying a lot of packaging. There’s the tin or cardboard container, some kind of inner lining to keep the tea fresh during shipping (which is funny, considering the tea inside isn’t really that fresh to begin with), and of course, the tea bags themselves. Loose leaf tea is much more economical. Less cost, less waste, better flavor, and greater health benefits: loose leaf is the clear choice for a great cup of tea.