Updated: Sep 22
Why we should all ditch our tea bags for loose leaf tea
The UK is a nation of tea drinkers. Over 100 million mugs of tea are drunk each day in the UK (BBC), almost all of which comes from tea bags.
Yet loose-leaf tea tastes fresher, stronger, is better for your health and for the planet. What more could you want? Read more to find out about the benefits of loose-leaf tea and the range of teas we stock at The Refill Pantry.
What is loose-leaf tea?
Loose-leaf tea is the larger tea leaves that do not come pre-packaged in tea bags. It usually comes in a box or tin and contains whole or broken tea leaves, as opposed to the ‘dust and fannings’- tiny scraps of tea leaves- used in conventional tea bags.
Why is loose-leaf tea more environmentally-friendly than tea bags?
According to The Tea Division, tea bags have 10 times the carbon footprint of loose-leaf tea and are only 70% biodegradable!
Recently, on the BBC series War on Plastic, scientists conducted an experiment in which they placed teabags in a chemical solution for five days to dissolve any material except plastic. It revealed that some of the UK’s top tea brands, including Twinings, Tetley and Yorkshire tea, all contained a layer of plastic in their tea bags called polypropylene. This plastic takes hundreds, if not thousands of years to break down properly.
Meanwhile, loose leaf tea does not contain any of this plastic, so you can sip happily in the knowledge that no unnecessary plastic waste was involved in the making of your cuppa.
Why is loose-leaf tea fresher than teabag tea?
Unlike tea bags, loose-leaf tea is not mass produced or industrially processed. This means that is it often tastes fresher and better quality.
Typically, tea bag tea is mass produced overseas in huge quantities, and often spends months or even years on the shelf before distribution and consumption. Unlike loose-leaf, the tea in tea bags is actually the ‘dust and fannings’- tiny scraps of tea leaves left over from the production of whole-leaf tea. These broken bits usually lose their essential oils quicker, meaning the tea loses its freshness and flavour.
Why does loose-leaf tea taste better than bagged tea?
Teabag tea uses a blend of leaves from multiple regions and aromas for standardisation. This means that more emphasis is given to a tea’s price and adherence to product standards than to quality and complexity of its flavour profile. Not only this, but bagged teas can contain unwanted stems and seeds of the tea plant as part of the production process, which can give the tea a bitter flavour.
Tea leaves need plenty of room to infuse, as they expand as they absorb water. When you brew tea in a tea bag, the size of the teabag restricts its infusion, meaning you often have to squeeze and swirl the tea bag around to get a proper brew. When you steep loose-leaf tea, it has more room to expand and infuse the water with its many vitamins, minerals and aromas, resulting in a much stronger, quicker and consistent brew.
Why is loose-leaf tea better for your health than teabag tea?
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of tea, especially green tea, come from chemicals called catechins, which are strongest in fresh tea leaves. During the production of tea bags, the dust and fannings are over-exposed to the environment so the catechins deteriorate as the tea loses its freshness. It is therefore best to drink tea as fresh as possible to obtain its wonderful health benefits!
Tealicious are a small, family run, independent tea company based in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, offering a wide range of teas.
Tea division, based in Ampthill, Bedfordshire supplies tea in compostable packaging, with flavours such as Lemon and Ginger Rooibos, and Fruitbang!, containing apple, orange and hibiscus.
When you discover the world of loose-leaf tea, you may never look at teabags the same way again! Come and check out our range of teas to begin your journey.
Which teas we stock
· Chamomile Tea
· Decaffeinated Tea
· Earl Grey Blue Flower Tea
· English Breakfast Tea
· Green Sencha Tea (Org)
· Lemon & Ginger Rooibos Tea
· Peppermint Leaves
· Roobois Tea (Org)
Essential tea brewing accessories
· Tea Basket infuser
· Tea Strainer
How to brew loose-leaf tea
There are many ways to brew loose-leaf tea, either through a metal infuser basket, a tea strainer or a French coffee press. Tea infusers come in many shapes and sizes and are made to sit on top of a tea pot or mug.
Here’s how to brew your tea in a basket-style infuser:
1. Start by placing the infuser into a cup or teapot.
2. Weigh out 2 to 3 grams of loose-leaf tea, roughly one tablespoon, for every 180 ml of water. You may need to double the amount of loose-leaf tea you use in a larger mug.
3. Once measured out, pour the hot water directly over it.
4. Steep the tea in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Remove the infuser and preferably throw the used tea leaves into the compost!