I love tea. Like, I really love it. I have a cabinet full of various blends and brands. I own five teapots of varied sizes, material and quality, not to mention the one-cup steepers of different designs. I love herbal teas, fruity teas, classic green, black, oolong and white teas. I drink some hot, some cold, and some teas aren’t too bad at room temperature. I’m even growing my own peppermint and lavender to dry and add to tea blends.
I didn’t always love tea. Once upon a time, I hated it. Growing up in the South, I turned heads by saying that I really did not like sweet tea. Unsweetened black tea was unappealing. Green tea was bitter and dried my mouth out. I had my mind made up that tea was just not very good. Until one day, a couple years ago, I was on a pleasant vacation and came across something in a gift shop: a cute little one cup french press that came with a loose leaf tea blend.
Loose leaf tea? I’d never heard of such a thing. Intrigued, I bought it even though it was overpriced. The blend, although I can’t remember the blend, was a black tea with ginger and a touch of citrus. It wasn’t particularly good, as I now know, but it was significantly better than any tea I’d tried before then. I actually liked it, and it tasted so different from any tea I had tried before – so much so that it was an entirely different experience. How could both of these things, so different quality wise, share the same name, “tea”? I started googling.
This is the first thing I read on the differences between bagged tea and loose leaf tea:
“The differences between loose leaf tea and traditional tea bags are numerous, and it goes far beyond the surface. The leaves used in most bags are actually the “dust and fannings” from broken tea leaves. This is a huge compromise in quality from full leaf tea. Finely broken tea leaves have lost most of their essential oils and aroma. When steeped, they release more tannins than whole leaf tea, resulting in bitter astringent brews. The material, shape, and size of the bags themselves are also important factors. Most tea bags constrain the tea leaves, keeping them from expanding to their full flavor and aroma potential.”
So, what is loose leaf tea, technically?:
“Loose-leaf tea is tea that is not brewed in a teabag. When you steep loose leaf tea, it has (or should have) room for tea leaves to absorb water and expand as they infuse. This allows the water to flow through the leaves and extract a wide range of vitamins, minerals, flavors and aromas from the leaves.”
My next step, of course, was to investigate the health benefits attributed to tea. I’ve read many articles on the subject, but my favorite place to buy tea online has a really great page detailing the benefits of each type of tea.
It’s also inexpensive in many cases. A pound of quality Gunpowder Green is $25. That’s a lot of tea, and so worth it.
I love tea because it’s delicious, it curbs my appetite, relieves stress, the caffeine throughout the day gives focus, and it’s just generally a healthy thing to drink. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried loose leaf tea to try it now. You won’t regret it.
I’ll close with some of my favorite teas that I always keep on hand:
Morning: Lady Grey
To drink chilled: Raspberry Balsamico Herbal Tea
Midday: Iron Goddess Oolong
Afternoon/Evening: White Wedding Tea
Before Bed: Lavender Dreams