We all had a cup of tea at some point, and if it were just on an average occasion, it most likely was brewed using a tea bag. Tea bags are convenient, offer quick simple brewing, and even add a nice color to the cup...so it must be the best way to have tea right? Not really...
Tea is a beverage that holds second place in total world liquid consumption; it is beaten only by water. In America, coffee is more popular than tea, and in Japan, green tea is more popular than coffee. But there is something that differs in these two countries when comparing how tea is brewed.
In America, over 90 percent of tea is prepared by tea bag. In Japan, folks mainly use loose leaf tea for brewing their beverage; the same can be said for China as well. This method offers better flavor, aroma, natural color, and even health benefits. Brewing tea by tea bag results in a cup that is less favorable and enjoyable, and the benefits of tea are reduced as well.
The leaves that go into making tea bags are called "fannings" (or tea dust), which is the lowest grading of tea. In fact, it isn't even a loose leaf tea grade, but instead a "broken leaf grade". The reason the brew does not taste as well is due to the fact that all the essential oils in these tiny bits of tea leaf have vanished. They sit on supermarket shelves for months before you steep them, and before that, they most likely were already dried up to begin with. The result is a cup that is nowhere near the pleasure one can get from loose leaf tea!
All tea, white, green, oolong, and black tea come from the same Camellia sinensis bush. The leaves and buds are picked in early spring, processed, graded, seal-packaged, and shipped within 6 to 8 months of the flush. The leaves still have most of their natural oils in them which give us that wonderful cup. Once you try loose-leaf-brewed tea, you'll wonder why you ever dunked a tea bag!
Health Benefits of Tea
It is also nice to know that you are obtaining more benefits too. Many studies suggest that tea can, increase our immune system, prevent certain tumor growth, destroy free radicals, and even lower cholesterol. Despite the many beliefs that one "type" of tea is better than another, you can expect to reap these benefits from any type you brew.
One study out of the National Cancer Institute reveals that drinking green tea can help prevent esophageal cancer, while another from Rutgers University shows that drinking black tea can help prevent stomach, breast, and prostate cancers. So whether it is green or black tea you are consuming, expect the same benefits. Since more studies are focused around green tea compared to black, it is believed that it is better. However, both teas share the same antioxidants; green tea just has a bit more per cup.
Now don't get me wrong, tea bag tea isn't horrible. If it's the only tea you're accustomed to, there's enjoyment to be had from a teabag cuppa tea. But once you treat yourself to loose leaf brewing, a whole new world of tea opens up. With more varieties to explore, richer tea flavors, and increased health benefits, loose leaf tea offers a lifetime of tea drinking enjoyment!