Tea bags vs loose tea leaves – why loose leaf tea reigns

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Tea bags date as back as during the Tang dynasty in China when paper was folded and sewed into small bags to preserve the flavor of the tea. Tea bags were first patented in the early 1900’s when Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea importer, started shipping tea in small silk bags. The was was intended to be removed from the bags of course but they found it easier to brew it like that. Sullivan didn’t realize the importance of his invention until some of his clients started to complain about their tea not being packed individually in bags. Today tea bags come in different shapes and sizes and are made out of different materials most common of which is paper fiber. William Hermanson was the one who invented heat-sealed paper fiber tea bags and sold his patent in 1930 to the Salada Tea Company.

Now the question is : Is it preferable to use loose tea leaves over tea bags or not? Most tea connoisseurs and tea lovers (myself included) will tell you “no” and for many reasons.

  • First and foremost the tea used in the majority of tea bags is actually the “dust and fannings” from broken, low-grade tea leaves. That greatly afftects the quality of tea since broken tea leaves have lost large part of their aroma and essential oils.  Tea bags may also release more tannins than loose teas giving your tea a more harsh, bitter taste.
  • The quality of  your steeped tea depends on the material, size and shape of the tea bags. Generally, tea leaves are constrained by them and are not allowed to expand fully giving thus a satisfying flavor.
  • Loose tea leaves are produced in small quantities seasonally, in a method that involves hand-picking and hand-sorting high quality tea leaves. On the other hand, tea contained in tea bags, is machine-produced in big quantities and can be stored for long periods of time which can lead to losing its freshness.
  • You probably never thought of it but tea bags can be a potential source of toxins. Tea bags are mainly produced with plastic compounds which when heated can release toxins dangerous to your health.
  • Tea bags can get stale very easily. Instead, loose leaves if stored properly can last for a longer period of time.
  • Finally, tea leaves can be steeped multiple times and still offer a tasty cup of tea in contrast to tea bags which can only be used once since the flavor is fully extracted.

These are the reasons loose leaves are way better than tea bags but still there is something about tea bags that a lot of people prefer and that is convenience! Tea bags are very convenient, can be carried with you anytime and they can offer a quick and easy cup of tea. For those who prefer tea bags I suggest reaching for pyramid tea sachets which contains full leaves and give them large enough space to expand.

So what do you use? Tea bags or loose tea? And why? Tell us by leaving a commend below!