Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Teaology 101: Tea bag or not tea bag. That is the question!

Since I’m a dedicated tea drinker, I am open to trying all teas offered in various formats.  I do have favourites and methods of preparing teas most of the time, but I’m not one of those aficionados who are so adamant about taking my tea the one and only way and rejecting all other techniques.  Rejoice teabaggers! (Uh, ahem).  I think the market is big and diverse enough for all of us.  Yes, tea leaves are far more superior to what’s in tea bags, but there are pros and cons for both. 

Tetley Tea varieties!

Loose Leaf Tea 
  • Takes time to prepare
  • Whole leaves are higher quality
  • Subtle flavours and aromas are released as the leaves unfurl with each infusion allowing for a unique experience with each cup
  • Multiple infusions, so it stretches your dollar
  • Costly
  • Cleaning brewing vessels can take a moment

Tea Bags
  • Quick to prepare, convenient
  • Leaves are pulverized into dust and fannings
  • Flavour profile is homogeneous since all leaves are cut and mixed together
  • Only one steeping per tea bag 
  • Affordable 
  • Quick clean-up, just remove the bag and throw it in the composter 

So, obviously from the comparison, loose leaf is fresh, good quality tea, whereas tea bags are more about affordability and convenience.  Although I don’t think they will replace loose leaves, tea bags are making big strides in design.  They now come in various shapes and sizes to allow for better expansion of whole loose leaves: square, round, pyramid.  Some tea specialty shops even offer large-sized, rectangular tea bags you can use to filter loose leaf tea.  I've tried them, and they aren't bad.  The point is to provide adequate room for the leaves to unfurl.

Strawberry Tea Kettle!

Again, the market is big enough for both.  There is nothing wrong with tea bags, but do understand that you won’t get the same quality in flavour and aroma as you would with loose leaves.  So, to answer the question – go for it!  Even I enjoy tea bagging it now and then.  (I really am talking about tea here, you know!  Try to stay focused).

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