Who doesn’t enjoy a nice warm cup of tea? Whether with your breakfast, to make you feel better on a sick day, or to help unwind before bed, a cup of tea makes us feel like we’re doing something good for our bodies. But depending on the type of tea you’re drinking, that’s not always the case.
Loose leaf tea and teabags are not made equally. There are major differences between loose leaf tea and tea bags. Differences that not only impact your health but the environment as well. Let’s explore some of those differences and why loose-leaf is by far the better option for you and our ecosystem.
Why is Loose Leaf Tea better than Tea Bags?
It’s no secret that the majority of the tea consumed comes in teabags. It’s convenient and widely available in stores and restaurants. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But, what makes loose leaf tea better than tea bags really comes down to the production process.
All tea leaves are harvested and processed in the same way. However, once the whole leaf tea production is complete, the leaf remnants are used to create the tea bag. But, since tea bags are mass-produced, they can spend months to years on a shelf before consumption. Meaning when they finally reach you, the consumer, many of the tea’s benefits, have been lost.
That being said, let's look more closely at all the ways this makes loose leaf tea makes for a better choice than tea bags.
1. Loose leaf tea is of higher quality
The teabags sold in the mass market are usually made from lower-grade tea, “the dust”. The dust is the scraps from the production of whole tea leaves that are then used to fill the tea bags. Therefore, loose leaf tea is the original form of tea leaves and is unaltered. This has a drastic effect on the quality and taste.
For example, when steeping loose leaf vs tea bags you can clearly see the plant. You see how much of the bud or leave you are brewing, assessing its color and shape. With tea bags, you are usually only left to guess how much of the actual leaf you are consuming and reaping the benefits from. Loose leaves give you the main parts of the full plant
2. Loose leaf tea is better for your health
Tea has many amazing health benefits. From anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can help you reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancers and strokes. But, to truly gain the potential health benefits of tea, loose leaf is really where you’ll find them. With tea bags, as mentioned above, you are usually only getting the dust, which is a lot less potent than whole leaves that you get with loose leaf tea.
In addition, it’s important to note that the bags used in many common tea bags are themselves potentially harmful to your health and the environment. Many teabags contain Microplastics which are released when combined with boiling water. According to Researcher Laura Hernandez, "The consumer should avoid plastic packaging. We encourage consumers to choose loose teas that are sold without packaging”.
Thus, it’s clear to see how much better for your health and the environment it is to use loose leaf tea vs. tea bags.
Related: How To Eliminate Single-Use Plastic to Live a Plastic Free Life
3. Loose leaf tea has a better taste
Have you ever noticed how after a while your teabags’ taste seems to become dull or the scent has less fragrant? Well, this is because tea leaves need space to expand, releasing their flavor. Since tea fragments are contained within a bag, they simply don’t have the room to expand. A tea bag holds a set amount, typically around 1-3 grams. With loose leaf tea, however, you control the taste and strength. You can alter the flavor and depth by adding or removing leaves, unlike tea bags. Making for a much more tasty and enjoyable cup of tea.
4. Loose leaf tea is better for the environment?
It’s no secret that tea bags are the more convenient option for many of our busy schedules. But, many of these tea bags on the market are not compostable. According to The Tea Division, tea bags have 10 times the carbon footprint of loose leaf tea and are only 70% biodegradable! On the other hand, loose leaf tea uses less single-use packaging and is fully compostable. There’s no plastic, string, paper tag, or even metal (staples) that will end up in the garbage. So, for those seeking a more sustainable lifestyle, swapping out your loose leaf tea is a great way to start. Not only can you throw them into your compost bin once done, but through a simple action, you can minimize additional waste that goes to landfills.
The final verdict...
It's pretty clear to see. All the evidence points to the fact loose leaf tea is by far the better tea option. From the health benefits, the taste and quality, to the environmental impact, loose leaf tea is the way to go. Although using loose leaf tea vs. tea bags may add a little more time to your tea-making process, the benefits are well worth a little extra time from your schedule. So the next time you’re preparing to make yourself a nice warm cup of tea, consider the bigger impact of your choice, on your health, the environment–and your taste buds!