The comparison between ‘traditional’ loose tea and the more modern option of tea bags centres on convenience, but as with so much in today’s world, if one values the quality and integrity of the end product and can see merit (and the satisfaction to be had) from investing a little more of oneself in the process, then the choice between the two may not actually be as difficult as you think.
Loose tea is the traditional way in which tea is prepared, with individual tea leaves gradually unfurling in boiling water to release their full flavour and aroma uninhibited by the confines of a plastic or paper container.
Most people tend to associate loose tea with tradition and culture, but there are also some material advantages to using loose tea in terms of taste and aroma relative to tea bags.
The ubiquity of tea bags has been driven by the convenience of these disposable paper and plastic pouches, however, it’s extremely rare for tea bags to hold full leaves and instead they tend to be filled with pieces of the leaf (and often fanning and dust). Tea prepared from tea bags will almost inevitably therefore have a very different taste and aroma than tea prepared from loose tea leaves. The convenience of tea bags is their undisputed appeal, but the use of an infuser and the small increment of time required to create the perfect cup of tea using this more traditional process is arguably more satisfying and rewarding.
Since loose tea comprises whole leaves, or larger parts of the leaf than would be used in tea bags, it has the capacity to generate stronger, more complex flavours and aromas than tea bags. Loose tea also tends to benefit from staying fresh for much longer periods of time than tea bags, which can go stale, with the paper eventually even tainting the taste.
A more rewarding process – the perfect cup of tea
In the process of deciding between loose tea and tea bags, if your goal is to achieve the best possible taste, enjoy enhanced aromas, and benefit from greater longevity of the tea itself, then the choice should be relatively easy to make.