Is Loose Leaf Tea Better?
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...
All tea - black tea, green tea, wu long tea - comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The different types of tea depend on how the tea leaves are processed after they are picked. Nevertheless, there are differences in tea leaves. Camellia sinensis can be hybridized very easily, and this has led to the development of more than 3000 varietals (or cultivars).
Japanese Green Tea Processing
Japanese green tea is processed in several stages from fresh leaf to finished product. There are two types of processing - Aracha and Shiagecha.
Black Tea Grades
Black tea has one of the most uniform tea grading systems of all types of tea. This tea grading system is used by most tea producers in India, Sri Lanka, Java, Indonesia, and Africa as well being applicable to some Chinese black tea.
Orthodox Black Tea Production
Black tea begins with fresh leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant produces all types of tea - black, green, oolong, white, and yellow - and it is only how the fresh leaves are processed that determines which kind of tea they become.
Organic tea usually carries a higher price tag than non-organics, which begs the questions: Is organic tea really better? How can the average consumer be sure that organic tea meets certain standards?
What Type of Plant Produces Tea
It comes as a surprise to many people that all tea comes from the same type of plant. The type of plant that produces tea is called Camellia sinensi - a plant native to south and south-eastern Asia.
Although tea bags offer convenience, they are usually filled with poor quality tea. There is some whole-leaf tea available in bags, but as a rule of thumb the best quality tea is only available in loose tea form.
Most people these days associate “tea” with “tea bags.” This sorry state of affairs came about because of the modern world’s obsession with convenience, even when convenience comes at the expense of quality.