Which is Better, Teabags or Loose Leaf Tea?

To the age old question, “Which is better, teabags or loose leaf tea”, the obvious answer is, “Loose leaf tea, of course!”

Unfortunately this is a bit of an oversimplification.

It is accurate to say that tea connoisseurs everywhere snub the common teabag, claiming that its contents are “bits and dust” of the tea leaves themselves.  Yes, loose leaf will give the most subtle, intricate tea. However, unlike coffee, (which without plenty of additives is undrinkable swill), ALL tea is pretty good.* Even teabags bought by the 100’s from a bargain basement discounter will make a good drink.

The advantage teabags offer is convenience. I have been known at times to shove a cup of cold water with a teabag in it into a microwave, and nuke it for three or four minutes. The resulting product is just fine.  Maybe not something to be leisurely savored with The Queen at high tea, but a good, drinkable beverage, perfect for a hectic day at work.

So I must confess that I do like tea confined to a teabag.

But …… if you’re searching for that transcendent experience, and want to take tea drinking to a whole ‘nother level, then you’re gonna have to ditch the teabag, and grapple with the tea leaves themselves.

Don’t panic.  It’s not really that complicated.  The biggest trick is keeping bits of tea from escaping the infuser, as it can be gross to drink bits of the leaves. **   And infusers themselves seem to range from pathetic to pretty darn good at restraining the leaves from escaping into your tea.  Oftentimes the simplest ones work the best.

A Basic Infuser for Loose Leaf Tea

A Basic Tea Infuser, Simple and Effective

If you really like tea, or even if you just sorta like it, you should take the time someday to brew up a proper pot of tea.  Here are some helpful links to guide you on your transition from teabags to loose leaf tea.

  1. Impediments to Better Tea: Five Misconceptions – http://www.teamuse.com/article_101102.html
  2. Teabags vs. Loose Leaf Tea – http://coffeetea.about.com/od/teaandtisanebasics/a/TeabagsVsLeafTea.htm
  3. Tea might become your favorite hot beverage, if you ditch the little bags – https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/tea-might-become-your-favorite-hot-beverage-if-you-ditch-the-little-bags/2014/10/20/426d03c4-4ff3-11e4-aa5e-7153e466a02d_story.html

* – Okay, I have to admit that I find smoked tea leaves somewhat repulsive, but other than tea that has been abused in such a manner every cup of black tea should be enjoyable.  Green tea, on the other hand, seems more susceptible to maltreatment.  A low grade green tea, as is often found in tea bags, can brew up too bitter for my tastes.

** – At least I think so.  But some tea fanatics wouldn’t hesitate to dump the tea leaves directly into their cup or pot.  As George Orwell wrote in “A Nice Cup of Tea“:

“… the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.”