Britain is a tea-drinking nation, with 96% of the population opting for tea bags, but is it time to switch to loose leaf tea?
Tea Bags: Convenience and Price
There is no doubt that tea bags are low cost. In the supermarket, you can buy a pack of 80 own-brand tea bags for around £1.00. They are also quick to brew and convenient to use. It is no wonder that they are a popular choice.
In contrast, it can be difficult to find a loose leaf tea stockist and you pay considerably more for a packet. In addition, the process of brewing the tea is more complex; you need tea accessories, such as infusers or strainers to make your cuppa. So, why do we choose to be a loose leaf tea supplier?
Loose Leaf tea; Quality and Sustainability
For us, nothing beats the aromas and flavours that are delivered by premium loose leaf tea. To understand the difference, it is important to know how tea is produced.
All tea originates from the fresh, new leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are picked at optimum times in the season. For black tea, these leaves are dried, oxidised and rolled in carefully controlled processes, designed to enhance the flavour.
Premium tea comes from the whole or broken leaves. These hold the flavour until they are infused in boiling water, creating a fresh and delicious drink with a distinctive taste. Our loose leaf tea range is made with whole or broken leaves.
In the process, some particles are too small to be classed as broken leaves; they are classified as fannings. Fannings are lower cost to buy and are sold as loose tea or are used in more expensive tea bags. With a large surface area, these particles brew more quickly than full leaves.
When the fannings are collected, the residue is tea dust. This is not wasted. Tea dust is swept up and sold – this is what you find when you open up any mass-produced teabag. Yes, it is the taste that we are familiar with, but we know that our tastebuds deserve better than that.
The Traceability of Tea
At Holy Cow Tea, we value traceability. We only want to buy from producers that provide fair working conditions and pay and are mindful of the local environment. Whilst enjoying a cuppa, we want to know that it isn’t at the expense of workers or habitats in tea-producing countries.
Traceability is possible when sourcing whole leaf and broken leaf tea. It is more difficult with fannings and dust. The reason is, they are bought in bulk from multiple producers and mixed together. This approach also means missing out on the unique flavours that come from single-origin teas.
Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea
We all prefer our tea to be served in a certain way. In Britain, it is usual to add milk, but in Europe, a squeeze of lemon is preferred. In much of Asia just the tea, steeped in water is enjoyed. Some herbal infusions and green teas are sweetened with sugar; Moroccan Mint being a prime example.
Whether you like a weak tea or a strong ‘builders’ brew the leaves need time to steep in the boiling water to bring out the flavour. With dust, the process is quick; it is one of the reasons that make tea bags convenient.
With leaf tea, it takes several minutes for the colour and flavour to steep in the water and transform it into a perfect cuppa. Although a little more time-consuming, we relish this process. It allows a few moments to switch off from the usual routine, unwind and gather your thoughts.
In Japanese, Chinese and Russian tea ceremonies, the time it takes to prepare and share tea is as important as the drink. Even the British tradition of Afternoon Tea, we never skipped on the preparation of the teapot, the brewing time and the pouring from height to aerate the drink.
In a world where everything seems to be a rush, why not favour the time taken to prepare a proper cup of tea over the convenience of a teabag?
Tea in Plastic-free Packaging
The final point in favour of loose leaf tea is that the vast majority of teabags contain plastic. They are not biodegradable and when you think about how much tea we drink that is a problem. Our loose leaf tea packaging is 100% compostable or recyclable. Our tea accessories include caddies, which are ideal for storing your favourite blend.
Loose Leaf or Tea Bags in Summary
Hopefully, this article has enlightened you as to why mass-produced tea bags are cheaper and more convenient. We also hope you understand why we favour the quality, flavour, longer brewing time, traceability and sustainability of premium loose leaf teas.