Why you should Choose Loose Leaf Tea (and Tea Discs) over tea bags.
Why you should Choose Loose Leaf Tea (and Tea Discs) over tea bags.
I have to admit, there must be some pressure on my friends when I pop over for a visit and they ask, “Can I get you something to drink?” Then, almost with a silent sigh and dry sweat, they open their tea draw or cupboard, frantically looking for the best and least offensive option to someone that makes and loves tea. Finally, in a hopeful embrace comes the question “Is a Tea Bag ok?”
LOOSE LEAF vs TEA BAG
Let’s start by clarifying what they both are. They both are tea. Both are made with Camelia Sinensis, the official name for the tea leaf. Here’s a simple guide to outline some of those differences:
|LOOSE LEAF TEA||TEA BAGS|
|WHAT TEA IS USED||Whole Tea Leaves Full Herbs Roots||Tea Fanning (chopped tea leaf) Tea Dust.|
Higher end Tea Bags have more tea leaves.
|HOW MUCH||$$$ - $$$$$||$ - $$|
|HOW MANY CUPS||3+||1 - 2|
|ENVIRONMENT||Compostable||Bleached Tea Bags Non-Compostable|
|HEALTHY||If those leaves are fresh, there is a greater chance this will be healthy for you. Full, whole tea leaves and herbs.||Cheaper bags have very little health benefits. Higher end tea bags with fuller ingredients are somewhat healthier.|
|TASTE||Fuller interaction with water. Tea leaves have room to open.||Tight spaces. Even pyramids are tight spaces for tea and can restrict flavour release.|
|CONVENIENCE||Can be messy. Never know how much tea to use; what size of spoon? Feels daunting.||Simple. Add bag – pour water.|
|EXPERIENCE||It feels more luxury.||In England, it’s traditionally called a builder’s cup for a reason – no offense to the builders that work in their Prada Jeans.|
The ‘Tea Bag’ was a great invention 120 years ago and any innovation in any industry should never be frowned upon. Unfortunately, with the innovation came the profit margins and companies realised that their customer was buying convenience and was not aware of what tea was in the bags; so then came the tea fanning or tea dust. Cutting costs, selling it for cheaper and moving quantity over quality.
I once met a buyer from China who said he could tell the Tea Bag companies as they would broker large contracts for the largest amount of tea, regardless of the quality or grade.
The Tea Bag is usually made of bleached paper; plastic; nylon; cotton or sometimes bamboo and sealed with glue and other chemicals. Some of these Tea Bags are full of microplastics, mix that with non-organically grown tea that is full of pesticides and you have a cup full of tea-toxicity.
Most bags are not bio-degradable so after contaminating your digestive system, it continues to damage the environment after it is disposed of.
Tea, much like ourselves, prefers to roam open and free. It hates to be restricted in tight spaces and suffers from claustrophobia and coulrophobia, no wait, that’s just me, but it really does hate tight spaces. You want to taste the full ranges of your tea leaves. You want your tea to unfurl and float around like a ballerina preforming swan lake. The more it interacts with the water, the more of it’s flavour you will absorb in your cup. The pyramid Tea Bags help to some degree and adding full tea leaves is by far a better experience for Tea Bags, but it doesn’t entirely solve the problem, nor the experience.
Tea Bags are cheap. Even in a novelty, luxury experience of full loose leaf Tea Bags, it’s still cheap. The industry, at its inception, created it as such. It is convenient, but how many tea rituals do you see with a Tea Bag? There is no luxury, no experience, no ritual. Simply convenience. Throw the bag in, add boiling water, maybe milk and sugar and enjoy.
LOOSE LEAF TEA
Loose leaf tea is, in my opinion, a more luxury experience. It leads to more arguments as to how it is prepared, whether to add milk, if so, when to add milk, what temperature to brew, how long to brew, should I wash my cup first, should I throw out the first cup???? The process is ritualistic, laborious and often painful. But it…is…worth it.
The taste of a loose leaf tea is designed to bring out the best in your tea. It allows the tea leaves to fully unfurl and bring all of the taste of the leaves into your cup. It encourages you to focus on the importance of steeping times and controlling temperatures; reviewing the quality of the water; assessing the notes of the tea; is that flavour at the front of my pallet or the back? Is it floral notes – wait, what are those mysterious notes?
People that watch trains, stand and record planes landing, collect postcards, go for long hikes and have a passion for intrinsic record keeping are automatically drawn to this process. As are those of us raised in the traditional rituals of tea. Those of us raised to understand the romance of a ceremony between two people that have first met or the process of removing hate from any situation through a tea ritual will understand the importance of this process.
My point is that loose leaf tea is messy, it is laborious, but for a certain demographic all of that is worth it.
The comparison is like comparing Champagne to White Claws. One gets you drunk quicker while the other leaves notes to savour.
The reality is that loose leaf tea is daunting. If you are entertaining yourself or a friend, it is daunting. What if I get it wrong? Worse than that – how do I get it right? Should I add milk before or after the tea? Its focus is so heavily leaned on the ritual that you lose sight of enjoying the tea experience.
iLOLA TEA DISC
The Tea Disc, with its cellulose binding, was designed to bring the convenience of the Tea Bag, with it’s no mess, no stress lifestyle and combine it with the luxury experience of loose-leaf tea. The Tea Disc is placed into an infuser or strainer, adding warm (or hot) water for the desired time and watch it unfurl into loose leaf tea. Pirouetting across your cup or tea pot of water; creating a new ritual of tea experience. Drink and re-steep as desired. The Tea Disc was designed out of listening to the pains of my friends, my hostesses, my customers, my closest confidents that would have the confidence to critique the industry that I love the most.
TASTE AND EXPERIENCE
This has the same taste and experience of loose leaf tea with the convenience of Tea Bags. It simplifies loose leaf tea, making it convenient.
You still need an infuser or strainer or tea pot to use. But to lose this would negate any sort of experience at all and leave it redundant to elegance, having to embrace convenience and cheapness.
Convenience and experience encapsulated in one.
To my friends that I call on, there are no longer any excuses. You have every opportunity to embrace an experience for any host to savor. No fear of failure. No excuses of lack of knowledge. Just decisions of what biscuits to bring…. Ardelia, naturally!
Whatever you choose on your tea journey, there is no wrong choice. Simply enjoy the experience, enjoy your hosting of your friends and focus on the importance of being present for someone special.
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