General Question

growler's avatar

Why is loose tea considered better than bag tea?

Asked by growler (403points) August 7th, 2009

I’ve heard from all my tea snob friends that loose tea is better but none have explained why. Not having the ability to make loose tea without buying extra stuff I have not tried it myself. Thoughts?

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18 Answers

Ame_Evil's avatar

I would have assumed because it would be fresher as it wouldn’t have to go through a manufacture process in order to bag it up. However I am quite naive on this subject and only guessing.

dpworkin's avatar

Supposedly, bag tea uses the shreds and crumbles left over from the packaging of loose tea, which is more carefully picked and packaged.

I’m not sure if this is true, but I have noticed that in Japanese markets, the really serious teas are always sold loose, and always very carefully packaged.

tramnineteen's avatar

In the case of green tea, the tea must expand greatly when it absorbs water and most experts (yeah, tea experts!) find that the bag restricts this too much.

Also, tea in bags is generally not as fresh. Just as with coffee, the freshness of tea is very important!

cyn's avatar

I guess this might help. :)

gailcalled's avatar

If you tear open tea bags, you will find a fine, powdery dust that has no resemblance to tea leaves. I am a really lazy cook but love to brew fresh tea from leaves.

growler's avatar

Thank you all for the good answers so far. I generally favor high end tea bags (or relatively high end, anyway) but will try loose tea when I get a chance. Even though I prefer chais and whatnot, I nonetheless find the Tetley British Blend tea bags to be surprisingly satisfying. May not be fresh, but it does the job.

I also hear that Brown Betty teapots are special. My mom became very excited when she got one for her birthday…

PerryDolia's avatar

Try making a cup of the same kind of tea; one cup from a bag and one from loose leaf. You will easily tell the loose leaf is better. It is fuller, richer and less bitter.

justn's avatar

If you’re looking for a great way to get started with loose leaf tea, I’d suggest the starter set from Adagio with either the green or black teas.

growler's avatar

@justn Thanks for the suggestion. I hope to have a better opinion of this topic soon.

growler's avatar

Having tried loose tea, I can now say that I prefer it to bag tea. Adagio’s Zodiac Capricorn blend is delicious and relaxing.

gailcalled's avatar

@growler I am delighted. Welcome to the Purists” Club. Expand your repertoire at some point. I drink only Earl Grey (black tea) and green tea. The old leaves are wonderful for the compost heap, if you care.

growler's avatar

@gailcalled The Adagio Earl Grey is not bad, but a bit too much oil for my tastes. The Yunnan Jig (also black) isn’t bad, but it’s spices take some getting used to. I’ll especially keep the note about compost in mind, though I don’t have one in my dorm.

gailcalled's avatar

Is there a botany dept. or an Aggie School at your Uni? They have love affairs with compost. I don’t like spices in my tea but do savor the bergamot in Earl Grey. There are also the classics; English, Irish, and Russian breakfast teas.

growler's avatar

Actually, my school offers a communal leaf compost facility but it is impractical to reach without a car (and I have not one). From time to time we compost in the dining hall, but only for a week at a time. I should ask the bio dept…

Today I had to wake up early and made two cups of Adagio’s loose Irish Breakfast with soy milk, and it just made my morning.

evegrimm's avatar

I’m not sure if you’re still looking for an answer, but from what I heard, it’s because when there’s tea ‘powder’, it can’t unfurl/infuse with the water as well as a leaf.

But this could just be loose leaf tea propaganda. :)

And how does that explain PG Tips, which when sold loose is sooo tiny but so delicious and strong?

growler's avatar

@evegrimm Thanks anyway :) I’m always looking for more answers. I think I’ll just have to drink a lot more tea to find out…

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elbanditoroso's avatar

Loose tea has a chance to socialize with other teas, making it a more divers tea, and following the current rules of political correctness in the post-Karen era.

Bagged tea is segregated from other leaves, and doesn’t have the ability live in a multi-cultural social milieu. While it is still tea-like and functional, it is less socially aware because it is not integrated with other teas that have different colors, tastes, consistency.

Loose tea is more politically correct.

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