Why is Loose Leaf Tea Better than Tea Bags?
The first step to becoming a true tea enthusiast is recognizing the difference between loose leaf tea and tea bags. Even though most tea drinkers are used to taking a tea bag out from a box and placing it in hot water to brew their tea, it is not the most efficient method for having a nice cup of tea in the morning or afternoon. In fact, using tea bags is a far inferior experience, as opposed to brewing tea using organic loose leaf tea bought from a reputable seller. When someone tries tea brewed with loose leaves for the first time, it becomes apparent to them how much they have been missing out on.
One difference between loose leaves and tea bags is the quality of the tea used to brew a cup. With loose leaves, you are getting premium quality tea leaves that are guaranteed to provide you with wonderful aroma and taste after a cup is brewed. In contrast, tea bags usually consist of the dust and fannings that are left behind when tea leaves break apart. Since the tea leaves are crushed to such an extent before they are bagged, tea drinkers would never know whether the tea they are drinking was made with the best parts of a tea leaf, or those loose bits that get left behind.
Those broken tea leaves have already lost most of the oils and aroma that make them special. In addition, a lot more tannins are released into your brewed cup of tea when you are using tea bags, as compared to loose leaves. And the more tannins you have in your cup of tea, the more likely you are to get a bitter cup of tea. In addition, keeping the tea leaves stored in a tea bag for many months, and then constricting them to the bag when they are placed in the water, means the tea leaves are unable to expand and unleash their full flavor or aroma.
For an ideal cup of tea, tea leaves need as much space as possible to expand. Not only is the aroma from such cups of tea truly magnificent, but the drinker enjoys a full-bodied flavor each time they brew a cup using loose leaf tea. It is also the reason why tea balls are not recommended when brewing a cup of tea, because they constrict the tea leaves into a small space, even if they are not as tightly bound as they are with tea bags. And in some cases, you may even get a little bit of paper taste in your tea, which really negates from the wonderful experience you should be having with tea.
The final reason for choosing loose leaves over tea bags is because you are cutting out any possibility of there being preservatives or unnecessary chemicals in your cup of tea. When tea is bagged by various companies, they sometimes use preservatives in a bid to keep the tea in a usable state for many months and years. While such a method does help improve the shelf life of tea bags, it also means that you are left with the possibility of putting chemicals into your body that may cause you harm in the short and long-term. So, the next time you decide to buy a batch of black tea or oolong tea for your daily drinking, make sure to go with loose leaf tea. The brewing process may seem challenging coming from tea bags, but it is fairly straightforward after a few attempts.
Why is Storing Tea Properly Important?
When you make the shift from tea bags to loose leaf tea, the question arises about how to store the tea in the most optimal manner. When tea is stored improperly, it can turn rancid or stale in a very rapid way. Tea drinkers may think the loose leaves they bought three months ago would last them for a long time, but if they stored those leaves in the wrong way, they could discover the leaves have gone bad within a few weeks. And the last thing you want is to attempt to brew or drink tea made from rancid or stale tea leaves. Not only would it taste terrible, but it is potentially harmful.
Aside from the health risks associated with rancid or stale tea, the storage of tea leaves plays a big role in the type of enjoyment you are going to get from your morning cup of tea. When tea is stored in an incorrect manner, every day that passes by will result in unwanted reactions taking place within the tea leaves. And each of those reactions can alter the taste, aroma and the nutrient composition of your tea leaves. Even the highest quality organic tea leaves will taste and smell foul if they are stored improperly, and they will not give you a fraction of the nutrients you would have received had the tea leaves been stored properly.
In order to understand why tea storage matters so much, we must first take a look at the impact certain elements can have on tea leaves. The five elements that must never come into contact with tea leaves, unless they are being brewed, are air, light, moisture, odors and heat. If any of these five elements makes contact with the tea leaves, the composition of those leaves will begin to change. It is the reason why so many tea enthusiasts will buy tea leaves in bulk and really enjoy the flavor they are getting from their tea during the first couple of weeks. But as they continue to use the same tea, they will find it is not providing them with the same wonderful aroma and flavor as before. They will begin to question their brewing method, or the type of tea they were sold. However, the culprit is almost always the storage method. If they did not store the tea in an airtight container and keep it away from sunlight, their tea leaves are no longer in the same excellent condition as when they were received.
Important Tea Storage Rules –
As most tea enthusiasts know, some tea leaves are put through a process of oxidation before they are ready to brew. The oxidation process alters their flavor and profile, which is why there are so many different types of tea that all come from the same plant. However, tea that is stored in containers or spaces where it can come into contact with oxygen is going to continue to oxidize. And even if the tea is being placed in an airtight container, some oxygen will remain. However, an airtight container will ensure any oxidation that takes place over time is fairly minimal and should not have much of an impact on the flavor profile and taste of the brewed tea.
Heat is another major issue where tea storage is concerned. It is imperative to keep tea away from a hot environment, because heat will speed up any oxidation process that the tea leaves are going through at the time. It is why certain types of green or yellow teas are best stored in the fridge or freezer, where there is no chance of contact with heat.
It is also very important to ensure that loose tea leaves are not exposed to any light, whether the light originates from the sun or artificial bulbs. A process called photo degradation occurs when tea leaves are exposed to light for a prolonged period of time, and the process can result in severe degradation to the quality of the tea leaves. And if you ever have the unfortunate experience of tasting tea brewed from tea leaves that were exposed to the light for too long, you may notice that your cup of tea has an excessively metallic taste. Such a taste is a byproduct of the photo degradation that took place when the leaves were exposed to light.
Moisture is another element that must never come into contact with your stored tea leaves. The only time moisture should touch the tea leaves is when they are submerged in warm or boiling water during the brewing process. The moment tea leaves are exposed to moisture, they begin to release the flavor inside them, which means you would be left with tea leaves that have a completely bland taste and smell by the time you brew your cup of tea.
Aside from having their own wonderful aroma, tea leaves are also known for absorbing any odors they come into contact with. In some cases, the reaction is a positive one, because it can help us create some of the most flavorful and tasty teas in the world. As an example, tea leaves that are kept within range of jasmine blossoms will eventually absorb the scent of those jasmines, which is what results in a wonderful and natural jasmine tea. However, if you are keeping your tea leaves in the kitchen area, where they could absorb any type of food odor, you will be left with tea that tastes very unpleasant.
How Tea Contributes to Good Health –
Even though we typically drink tea for a quick caffeine boost, or because we have come to love the flavors and aromas that are released each time we brew a cup of loose leaf tea, there are many health benefits associated with the beverage. Drinking tea is incredibly healthy, no matter how old you may be. It is the combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other chemicals in loose tea leaves that provide so many wonderful health benefits to tea drinkers. And because different types of tea go through a slightly different process when they are produced, the health benefits of the various tea types are slightly unique from each other. However, every type of tea that is consumed plain and brewed from organic loose tea leaves will provide you with some type of health benefit.
Here are some of those benefits:
Despite the caffeine content, tea helps to hydrate the body. If you are feeling particularly dehydrated on a hot summers’ day, drinking a cup of tea may provide you with the nutrients and minerals you need to properly hydrate your body. In addition, tea is said to boost a person’s endurance while exercising. Many scientists have concluded that the catechins found in the extract of certain teas, such as green tea extract, can improve the way we burn fat and use it as fuel, which directly improves our muscle endurance.
There is some evidence to suggest tea helps reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack. It is also said to help the body fight against degenerative diseases. And the antioxidants found in all types of tea are a wonderful asset in the fight against cancer. While tea is not said to cure cancer, or even prevent it outright, the presence of those antioxidants in the body may aid a person in warding off or fighting various types of cancer.
Green tea is said to provide the body with the nutrients and minerals it needs to improve bone strength, while also helping a person achieve better skin and dental care over time. The polyphenols that are present in various types of green tea are also said to help maintain our brain’s ability to regular learning and memory. Even though these links are not scientifically proven, the presence of these polyphenols may indicate that green tea is a suitable way to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Tea may even provide us with some protection against the damage caused to our skin and body by ultraviolet rays. Even though we should not consider any type of tea as a substitute for proper sunscreen, or staying indoors during a sweltering day, we can consider tea a second line of defense against harmful UV rays.
When other factors, such as diet, smoking, physical activity and body mass were regulated, studies showed that drinking tea on a regular basis resulted in a lowered risk of both men and women getting Parkinson’s disease.
As we assess the health benefits of tea, it is important to remember that they are not uniform among all cups of tea. For instance, the way tea is produced, packaged, stored and brewed can have a serious impact on its nutritional value, and the health benefits derived from those nutrients. When considering these health benefits, it becomes even more apparent why the proper storage of loose tea leaves is so important. If you are going to the trouble of buying high quality loose tea leaves, and brewing a cup of tea in the proper way, it is vital to store these tea leaves in the best possible environment to ensure they remain in good condition right before you make a cup of tea with them.
Five Ways to Store Tea –
When it comes to storing tea, there are many options on the market. However, customers need to take great care in ensuring their tea storage method is prioritizing the security of the tea leaves and nothing else. For instance, it is easy to get lulled into buying a tea container that looks incredibly fancy and beautiful. However, the most beautiful container in the world would not do a good job at storing loose leaf tea if it let in air, moisture, light, heat or aromas that would come into contact with your tea leaves. With that in mind, here are some ways you could store tea, with a look at the pros and cons of each method:
Vacuum Food Storage Containers –
There are many models of vacuum food storage containers that are used to either store food in an airtight space, or create an environment where you can quickly marinate meats and other items. But these containers are also ideal for storing loose tea leaves. The high-quality containers are BPA free and made with materials that are not going to have any reaction with the tea leaves inside. And the containers have a mechanism at the top that you can use to create a completely airtight seal each time you are shutting them.
However, some of these containers are not always the best quality, and they can stop operating correctly after a few weeks or months. When purchasing one of these containers, it is very important to assess the reviews of the product’s quality. In addition, you may want to double check the container each time you close it to ensure an airtight seal is created.
Ziploc Bags –
Ziploc bags are often used to store loose tea or coffee, because you can create an airtight seal when the zipper is shut. And if you have a small quantity of tea leaves you are looking to store, a bag with an airtight zipper should do the trick.
One of the downsides to using these bags is that you will have to find a place to store the bag that is not exposed to light. In addition, the process of sealing these bags is not always simple. For instance, you may often find bags of air developing inside the bag when you store food or snacks in it. And for those purposes, you may not care too much if a little bit of air remains in the bag. However, even a little bit of air that remains in contact with your tea leaves is going to cause the oxidation process, which is something we do not want. Unless you are 100 percent confident in your ability to seal one of these bags shut with no air inside, you may want to look at some of the other storage methods.
Wooden Containers –
Wooden containers are a very old-fashioned and charming way to store tea leaves. However, they are not always the best option, because certain types of wood may react with specific tea leaves and produce an aroma and taste that you would not enjoy. Given the strong smell that emanates from wood, you may be left with tea leaves that have a certain woody taste and aroma about them. Before buying a wooden container, do some research to check whether other users and tea enthusiasts would recommend their use for storing loose tea leaves.
Tinted Containers with Plungers –
Even though they are a little unusual to look at, there are a few copolyester containers on the market that are both BPA free and extremely durable. These containers are perfect for storing loose leaf tea, because they have a tinted design that does not allow any light to come into contact with whatever is inside the container. In addition, the containers come with a plunger mechanism that allows the user to create an airtight seal each time the container is shut.
Tea Tins –
Not only do they look gorgeous, but tea tins are one of the most effective ways of storing loose leaf tea. Depending on the types of tea you enjoy brewing, you may want to get a special tea tin for each type of tea. It is never a good idea to store different types of tea in the same container, and you may not even want to store tea in a container when you had a very different type of tea in it before.
When you keep tea leaves in a container for an extended period of time, they can impart some of their odor onto the tin. And when you add another type of tea to the same tin, you may cause an unwanted reaction between those odors.
Tea tins are typically made from tin-played steel, and they successfully achieve an airtight seal. If the tea tins you are looking to buy do not advertise an airtight seal, it may be best to avoid them and look for another model.
Not only are tea tins perfect for keeping your loose leaf tea away from air, light, moisture and odors, but they are also extremely durable. As long as you are adding the same type of tea leaves to your container every few months, there is no reason why you cannot continue using the same tins for many years to come. And depending on where you get your tins, you may find some great designs and colors on their outside, which only adds to their charm.
Each of these tea storage methods can work well, as long as you are careful during the storage process. However, the most important aspect of tea storage is keeping in mind the elements that you want to keep away from your tea leaves. As long as you are fully aware of the downside to letting tea leaves come into contact with air, moisture, heat, light and odors, you should be able to take the extra precautions necessary to ensure your tea leaves are being stored correctly.