So a bit of a controversial discussion I often find myself in, loose leaf or teabags? Now just to get straight with my thoughts – I do far far far prefer loose leaf tea so I am a bit biased. But I did a little video about it over the Christmas holiday and a Facebook Live video where I went on a rant asking why it was so hard to find quality tea when you go out.
I thought I’d do an expanded blog post on the loose leaf vs teabag debate as I didn’t explain it properly at some points in the video. I’ve used a high-street teabags of Earl Grey and the Simpli Special Earl Grey with cornflower.
I do understand the convenience for teabags, it is easier to brew and transport but that doesn’t mean that loose leaf is such a faff and makes a mess whenever you make it. They infuse quicker due to a larger surface area which makes the whole brewing tea quicker (but only by a minute or two). Also for producers, there are less higher standards for the leaves going into teabags, so if there are issues in production resulting in broken leaves, it doesn’t matter because teabags leaves are even smaller.
The teabags hold 3.12grams of fairly small fannings that don’t have much space to move in the bag when brewing. There isn’t much of an Earl Grey scent from the bags, neither of black tea or the bergamot from the bag.
Once brewed the leaves turn to a mush, almost like sand. The smell isn’t particularly pleasant, almost a sharp bitterness in the air. The bergamot is there slightly but only when deeply inhaling the liquor.
Now as I’ve said, I am biased. I do think loose leaf gives you a far superior cup of tea & I am quite happy with one cup of nice tea than 3 bad cups. With loose leaf you can see that the leaves are a better quality (which isn’t always a sign of a better cup but is a factor to consider) since they have not been chopped up. Another thing is that with loose leaf producers and retailers, they will often want to tell you where the leaves were grown and give you far more detail than a box of teabags will. I find its far easier to get provenance & traceability of origin when buying loose leaf. Most of the teas I buy can be pinned to one known area for its history.
Since I’ve already done a review on this tea, I will just link it here. But the difference between this blend and the loose leaf are great, you can smell the dry leaves for a beautiful scent, the liquor is smooth and lasting. The wet leaves expanding to another small pile of bergamot and black tea scented joy.
I made 3.12 grams of loose leaf to match the teabag and brewed them both for 2 minutes in 315ml of 95 degree water to make the comparisons as close to each other as possible. The glass on the left is the teabag which you can see made a darker, more reddy shade of tea, it wasn’t a clear liquor, a little murky. Whilst the glass on the left is the loose leaf, it is a lighter more golden colour that has more clarity & is clearer when you look through them. The differences in appearances aren’t huge so its hard to get it on camera.
At the end of the day, what you drink and how you brew it is up to you. But I do know people who ask me if the differences are worth it and yes I think they are!! I know I can’t get loose leaf everywhere when I go out but if I can’t, then I like a pyramid bag as it gives the slightly larger leaves a chance to move properly. It would be great if we could get more people trying loose leaf not just for the quality but also the better variety you get compared to teabags.
Please watch my video and let me know which you prefer or any thoughts I haven’t mentioned!
Have a great week and keep drinking the good stuff!