Reasons to drink Loose Leaf Tea
Believe it or not, as recently as 1968 only 3% of Britain’s households used tea bags. This American invention stole the show as a culture of convenience grew and left us forgetting our original love of leaves...until now.
Over the last few years, and this last year in particular, we've seen a resurgence in the popularity of loose leaf tea, with more and more tea drinkers opting for this 'slower' format. But what is the difference, and why is loose leaf tea better? For us, this year, one of the most important has been the opportunity to slow down, take a moment and enjoy the simple ritual that brewing a cup of tea offers, but there are many reasons to choose loose leaf tea. We've highlighted a few of our favourites below:
A focus towards lowering our impact, reducing waste and consuming with a conscience is on the rise, and shopping for the right tea definitely asks us to consider issues around people and planet. Whilst both our tea bags and loose leaf tea now come in 100% plastic-free packaging, the environmental impact of choosing loose leaf, comes with a few extra benefits.
We drink around 60 billion cups of tea a year in the UK and over 90% of those are still made using tea bags. That’s 54 billion tea bags that are dunked, squeezed and tossed each year. And despite the fact that some teabags, like ours, are compostable, many more contain small amounts of plastic. Lose the bag altogether, however, and you’ve got 100% organic matter.
Tea leaves themselves are of course completely home compostable, and your flower and plant beds will love them. The used leaves are nutrient-dense and will not only decompose naturally, they will actually give back to the soil.
The best tea is produced using ‘orthodox’ methods, meaning the integrity of the leaf is maintained from the moment it is picked to being dried, roasted and eventually brewed in your cup. When kept whole, the leaves brew a more complex cup, with all the delicious nuances of the flavour profile that makes each tea so unique. More often than not these large, whole leaves won’t fit inside a convenient bag format, so instead go through a process called ‘cut-tear-curl’ in which the leaves are cut into smaller pieces. Losing much of its aroma in the process, this ‘dust’ is built for speed and strength, not for flavour.
The process of those tea leaves unfurling in hot water is known as the agony of the leaves and it is during this process that the leaves release their full flavour and aroma. In order to get the best possible cup it is therefore important that they have the room to fully open up and move around. Brewing loose will therefore always result in a more delicious cup of tea. This is especially true for some of our teas where the leaves are rolled into balls such as our Jasmine Pearls and Ruby.
Contrary to popular belief, loose leaf tea is in fact often a more cost effective option than tea bags. Though a pack of good quality, loose leaf tea might cost more per pack, the price per cup is often less than an average supermarket bag. Instead of paying for the convenience of that bag, you’re paying for the quality of the tea itself, which is not only less expensive but also promises a better cup of tea.
Whilst we're always working on our range and aiming to offer you as much as possible, choosing tea bags will often limit you to a smaller selection of teas. For example at Good & Proper we have 30+ loose leaf teas, but only 8 choices when it comes to tea bags. You therefore have more to explore, from different types to different origins.
Finally, the process of making a pot of loose leaf tea, much like preparing a cafetiere of coffee, is an important part of the ritual. Measuring the leaves into your pot, pouring the water and watching the leaves dance around, slowly unfurling to release their flavour - it is all part of the tea-making moment. Read our blog on Tea and Mindfulness here.
So with all this in mind, best to steep and strain instead of dunk and dash!