Many people love to curl up with a steaming cup of tea, but few know more about the beverage than which flavors they prefer. One of the biggest questions facing many people’s favorite drink is the difference between loose leaf tea and bagged tea. While it might not seem like there’s a massive difference, after all they are both tea, many qualities such as flavor, color, and quality will vary greatly depending on which of the two you choose to drink.
Storage Methods and Leaf Size
Loose tea consists of dried, large, loose tea leaves and is typically stored in a caddy or canister. Bagged tea resembles more of a powder, as the leaves have been cut to extremely small pieces, and is stored in inexpensive bags. The size of the leaves also varies greatly depending on the kind of tea you purchase. Loose leaf tea generally has larger leaves whereas the bagged tea has cut leaves that are broken or crushed.
Flavor and Color
The more a tea leaf is cut and crushed, the more essential oils are pressed out of it, making the tea less flavorful. Bagged tea consists of only crushed and cut leaves, so the flavor tends to be much more muted and less rich. When making a cup of tea with loose leaves, the leaves can circulate in the boiling water which causes them to swell. This swelling allows maximum flavor and color to go into the tea, giving you rich flavors and a deep color.
If you’re looking for the most convenient tea, bagged tea is by far the clear winner. Bagged tea creates next to no mess and doesn’t leave behind leaves that need to be disposed of, making it simple to brew and clean up. However, the convenience of the bagged tea means you lose some quality. The more space tea leaves have to move around in their containers, the better your cup of tea will be. If you can’t find the time to use loose tea leaves, choose a bagged tea that allows maximum movement in the bag so you won’t lose as much quality of flavor.