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Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Scott
The traditional way of brewing tea involves using pre-made tea bags that are filled with tea and sealed. They are placed in hot water to steep and discarded when the brewing process is over. There is a way to make a healthier and more flavorful tea.
Loose leaf tea offers a healthier and more flavorful option when brewing tea. Loose leaf teas also come with more tea varieties than a standard traditional tea bag. Loose leaf teas also offer added health benefits than the standard tea bag teas.
Below we highlight the benefits of loose leaf tea, discuss multiple brewing options and even provide homemade alternatives to the traditional tea bag.
Benefits of Loose Leaf Tea
Loose leaf tea is brewed from entire or partial tea leaves. They are usually better quality and are more flavorful than the ground-up tea leaves found in traditional tea bags. Placing the leaves directly in your hot water for steeping allows the leaves to expand and give a stronger and bolder flavor. Loose leaf teas do require an infuser or a strainer to remove the leaves after brewing.
Loose leaves are of higher quality and release more minerals, vitamins, flavor, and aroma during the brewing process. This results in loose leaf teas offering higher health benefits, increased aroma, and a stronger flavor.
Loose leaf teas are great for everything from sore throats to reducing inflammation and even can boost your immune system.
Loose leaf teas come with the stigma that they are more expensive than their traditional tea bag counterparts. When comparing prices, the loose leaf teas are comparable to the traditional tea bags, and some loose leaf tea leaves can be used multiple times during the brewing process.
Growing Popularity of Tea
The popularity of teas, especially herbal tea, has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Consumers are seeking healthier items that offer immune-boosting benefits and natural ingredients. The current sales of black and green teas rose by 6% over the sales of 2020 according to a report by Tea USA.
According to studies by Vantage Market Research the herbal beverage market is expected to experience annual growth of 5.1% and reach sales of 2.45 billion by 2028. Herbal teas are expected to grow 4.6% alone over the same period.
The United States continues to grow in both tea import and consumption. Consumers are turning to herbal and loose leaf teas over traditional hot teas for the added health benefits, to help them with stress, and relax.
Brewing Loose Leaf Teas
There are a variety of methods involved for you to brew loose leaf tea. Strainers, infusers, the French Press, and even home brewing methods making your own tea bags are all possible. Below we will look at each method individually:
There are two types of strainers, internal and external. The internal strainer is part of the vessel for brewing the tea. It is usually a small metal basket placed inside that holds the loose tea leaves during the steeping process. After brewing the basket and leaves are removed from the tea.
With an external strainer brewing process, the loose tea leaves are added directly to your cup or teapot when brewing the tea. After the short steeping process, the tea is poured through the strainer to catch and separate the large teal leaves giving you a fresh cup of tea. Almost any type of strainer is sufficient for this process and is readily available.
An infuser is a small round metal or plastic ball that holds the loose tea leaves inside it. It is then lowered into the teapot or mug during the brewing process. After the recommended amount of time, it is removed and the tea will be ready to consume.
- French Press
A French press can also be used to brew loose leaf tea. The hot water and tea leaves will be placed inside the French Press, and the lid will be placed on with the plunger for the press pulled up. After steeping, the plunger can be pushed down trapping the tea leaves and allowing the tea to be poured out.
The French Press is the most versatile way to brew tea as it can be used for larger and smaller amounts of tea. It is easy to measure the amount of water to get a consistent measurement and dilution in tor tea. It is also the best method for iced tea, and cooling the tea before drinking.
- Homemade Methods
You can use a cheesecloth or coffee filter as a strainer or even an infuser to brew loose leaf tea. The loose leaf tea leaves can be wrapped in cheesecloth or with a coffee filter and lowered into the hot water and allowed to seep. Alternatively, you can use either to strain the tea after the brewing process is complete.
You can also use a Gaiwan to brew loose leaf tea. It is not effective on teas with tiny particles but can be used with all other types of teas with large leaves.
A Gaiwan looks difficult to use in making tea but is easy when used correctly. The loose leaf tea and hot water are added directly into the Gawain and allowed to steep. When ready to pour the lid is held in place and the small opening only allows the tea out trapping the leaves inside.
Loose leaf tea is continually growing in popularity in the tea market. Their added health benefits and deeper, richer taste are increasing their popularity over traditional store-bought tea bags. They are perceived to be more expensive, but when the prices are compared they are competitive with traditional tea bags.
Loose leaf teas do require an extra step or two during the brewing process. There are multiple options to brew and steep your loose leaf teas including home methods that don’t require any extra or special tools.
Loose leaf teas offer a wide range of variety and options over traditional tea bags and are worth picking up on your next shopping trip. Happy steeping!
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.