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loose leaf tea vs teabags?

understanding the differences in production


Image of a cup with a teabag inside

Loose leaf tea vs teabags - the debate rages on and on. Both are popular ways to enjoy a cup of tea, but did you know that they are produced quite differently? The production process for reach type of tea can have a significant impact on the flavour, aroma, and the quality of the final product.

Teabags are made by cutting and shredding the tea leaves into very small pieces, known as "fannings" or "dust". In some tea estates they use clever, giant extractor fans to pull the tea dust away from the drying loose leaf tea so that they can use it in teabags - minimising tea waste as much as possible.

These small pieces are then packaged into small papers, or sometimes nylon bags which are then boxed,  ready for sale. The packaging however, is not always airtight and due to the small size of the tea leaves, the paper or nylon bags, and difficulty in maintaining an airtight seal, the flavour of teabag tea is often considered as lower-quality. Teabags are commonly found in supermarkets, and you can read about the differences between supermarket tea and specialist tea stores here.


On the other hand, loose leaf tea is made by carefully hand-picking and processing whole tea leaves. The leaves are then sorted, rolled, and dried to preserve their flavour and aroma. Once the leaves are dried, they are packaged into airtight containers to maintain their freshness. Due to the careful handling of whole leaves, and airtight storage, the flavour of loose leaf tea is considered to be higher-quality.

Please beware! Some teabags are made from plastics, which have the potential leach harmful chemicals into your tea - there is a global social movement to eliminate this method but, it still exists. Click here to watch a video by Bobby Parrish that mentions it.

When it comes to ease of brewing tea in our very busy modern lifestyles, teabags are considered to be most convenient as they are pre-portioned and easy to use. Simply drop the teabag into a cup of hot water and wait for it to brew to your preferred strength. Loose leaf tea, on the other hand, requires a bit more preparation. You will need a tea infuser (for individual cups), or a teapot and strainer in order to brew loose leaf tea, and you will need to measure out the appropriate amount of leaves for your desired strength.

In terms of flavour and aroma, loose leaf tea is often considered to be superior to teabag tea. The whole leaves in loose leaf tea have more surface area, which allows them to release more flavour and aroma when brewed. Moreover, loose leaf tea is also better in terms of health benefits as it contains more antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that a tea bag can.

Personally, this is why we are "Lovers of Loose Leaf Tea"...

the best of both worlds...

Image of lady filling her own paper teabagFill your own teabags!

Of course, this only applies if you are purchasing your teabags from a supermarket or large market store. If you are purchasing teabags from a boutique or specialist tea shop it is very likely that they either sell teabag papers to pack your own leaf tea, or they pack their own teabags with high-quality loose leaf tea thereby ensuring that you continue to receive the tea you know and love, with the convenience of a teabag. 

At Love Loose Leaf Tea we stock the Agatha's Bester brand of paper teabags that you can fill with your own favourite leaf tea. These are very convenient and are a boon for when you're at work , or simply do not have the time to fiddle about cleaning your tea strainer or teapot each time!

For the same reason, using a tea infuser (especially sized for cups) is another great way to have the convenience of an individual cup of freshly brewed tea. There are as many types of individual tea infuser as you can imagine, some more imaginative than others! We stock several types, from stainless steel tea infuser sticks, to tea tongs, some novelty ones in silicon, and over-the-cup style infusers that hang from side to side over your cup. When you are done, simply tap out the spent tea leaves from the infuser into either the compost or your landfill rubbish, and rinse it ready for the next use!

So, you can see there are differences between the two production processes however, whether you prefer loose leaf tea or teabags is your personal choice!

At Love Loose Leaf Tea, we can help you to choose and enjoy your favourite cup of tea either way!

What's your take on loose leaf tea vs teabags?

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