Australia is a nation of tea drinkers, it seems. Research by Roy Morgan has found that in the 12 months leading up to June 2016, 9.8 million Aussies drank at least one cup of tea in any given week, and the average volume of tea consumed by each person per week was 9.5 cups per person.
Tea is thousands of years old and almost every human culture has drank some form of it at some stage, and the health and wellbeing benefits of tea are seemingly endless. Green tea has been studied as a way to purify blood and reduce the size of tumors, while a study by psychologist Dr Malcolm Cross at City University London found that drinking tea can alleviate stress and anxiety.
However, the many benefits of tea are only apparent when it is correctly harvested, produced and brewed.
Suk-Yi is the founder Caffeine Trifecta, an online retailer specializing in the finer things in life – tea, coffee and chocolate! We asked for her expert opinion on all the reasons why you should be brewing loose leaf tea, and abandon tea bags.
1. Loose leaf tea is of higher quality
"Most bagged teas available from the supermarket are mass produced and made using dust ad fannings – the tiny bits of tea left over from the production of loose leaf tea."
2. Loose leaf tea is fresher
"Mass-produced tea bags are generally filled with tea leaves from different locations, and has usually travelled great distances before it reached supermarket shelves, making it less fresh."
3. Loose leaf tea tastes better
Mass-produced bagged tea has been blended for standardization and as such, you won’t experience the difference in taste and aroma between types of leaves and locations. For a more refined tea experience, or if you’re looking for something that just tastes better, fresher and more wholesome, brew loose leaf tea.
“Tea bags have a consistent but one-dimensional taste (bold and astringent) and limited flavour expression,” says Suk-Yi. “Due to the undiscerning power of machine harvesting, bagged teas may include stems and seeds that can make the tea bitter.”
4. Loose leaf tea is more diverse
“There is more to tea than black tea or green tea. Types of tea such as oolong, white tea, yellow tea, and fermented tea are diverse, and each is a reflection of its cultivars, climate, geography and production.”
5. Loose leaf tea is better for the environment
"Most tea bags are not compostable, and of those that are, very few people make the effort to compost them. Loose leaf tea reduce the amount of packaging you’re using and can be directly thrown onto the compost heap."
6. Loose leaf tea is good for your health
Tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can contribute to your overall wellness. The primary chemicals responsible for the health claims of green tea, called catechins, are found in the highest concentrations in fresh leaves.
“Once exposed to the ambient environment, catechins degrade rapidly. The highly processed nature of ‘dust and fannings’ in tea bags degrade faster due to the higher surface area for exposure. It’s best to drink green tea as fresh as possible, as loose leaf tea, to enjoy the potential health benefits of these phytochemicals.”