Loose Leaf Tea
Loose leaf tea 101
What is loose leaf tea
Does the name sound familiar? Ask any seasoned tea connoisseur and you will know. Tea lovers across the globe vouch for the refreshing aroma and mesmerizing flavor of loose leaf tea. It’s a type of tea that is not brewed in traditional teabags which means they are not prepackaged. Also called whole leaf tea, a loose leaf tea is primarily made up of whole, unbroken leaves. As the leaves aren't collected into small teabags for portability, the quality and aroma of loose leaf tea are quite distinct and some would say superior compared to other varieties.
How is loose leaf tea different from traditional tea bags?
Broadly speaking, there are four categories of tea - dust grades, fanning grades, broken leaf grades and whole leaf grades. Loose leaf tea consists of whole leaf grades whereas the teabags available in the market usually contain dust and fanning grades of tea which are eventually crushed before being packaged into teabags.
Dust and fanning grades contain smaller pieces of tea which have a larger surface area compared to whole leaves. A larger surface area implies a greater chance for some of the essential oils to evaporate.
Types of loose leaf tea and their associated health benefits:
Almost all categories of tea have antibacterial properties and provide a certain degree of antioxidants. Since loose leaf tea is not brewed in a teabag, during the process of steeping, there is enough room for the tea leaves to absorb water and expand as they infuse.
Water flowing through the leaves extracts a wide range of aromas and flavors from the leaves. Broadly speaking there are Three most popular categories of loose leaf tea:
- Loose Leaf Black Tea - One of the world's most popular and well-loved tea blends, black tea is made from the leaves of the highly oxidized Camellia Sinensis plant. This oxidation gives the tea leaves their rich black color. Black tea forms the backbone of popular tea blends such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
- Loose Leaf Green Tea - Here is another popular category of loose leaf tea that is processed from Camellia Sinensis plant leaves. However, unlike black tea, loose leaf green tea is subjected to minimal oxidation during processing which is why the tea leaves are green in color. Its lighter flavor and soothing aroma set it apart from the other tea blends.
- Loose Leaf White Tea - The least processed of all tea blends, white tea is made from the same plant as black and green tea. The tea leaves are subjected to heat as quickly as possible in order to minimize oxidation. Such light oxidization helps it retain a delicate aroma and a smooth, airy flavor that is unmatched by other blends. Interestingly, this particular variety is considered most rich in antioxidants.
Things required for brewing:
- Tea infuser
- Teapot or Tea Mug
- Tea Kettle
Experience the fun of brewing loose leaf tea:
The task of brewing loose leaf tea is fun and interesting. The process is quite simple and hassle-free. In fact, you could make use of your creativity and feel free to experiment. This would allow you to come up with a multitude of techniques each of which would be adding a different flavor to the same tea leaves. After all, tea making is an art.
The basic steps are as follows:
- Boil water in a tea kettle.
- Meanwhile, add loose leaf tea (quantity as per taste) to the tea infuser.
- Place the tea infuser inside the teapot.
- When the water is considerably hot, pour it, over the tea infuser into the teapot or mug. This allows proper water circulation through the leaves.
- Make sure that you've timed your tea. Beyond that stipulated time, dunk the infuser multiple times to ensure proper circulation.
- Set aside the infuser and perform second steeping for 2-3 minutes. This will bring out the unique flavor.
- Tea is ready to be served.
Alternatively, you can rinse the kettle with warm water to already provide a temp for brewing then you add the leaves and finally add the hot water on top. This temp should be around 70-80 degrees and the leaves should be steeped for 2-3 min.
The shelf life of loose leaf tea
You might be surprised to know that loose leaf tea has a remarkable shelf life. However, its shelf life depends on external factors such as temperature, type of containers, and place of storage. If you're storing loose leaf tea in a dark container or a bag at room temperature or at a cooler place away from direct sunlight, a loose leaf tea can last for years without losing any of its inherent qualities.
The quality of tea depends, to a large extent, on the way you are storing it. Ideally, loose leaf tea should be stored in sealable containers, especially airtight stainless steel containers and colored glass containers. This will prevent exposure to sunlight. Loose leaf tea ought to be kept away from substances that can potentially cause damage such as spices. Also, temperature fluctuation can damage loose leaf tea, so avoid storing near heaters, air conditioners, or windows.
A note for first time buyers
For first time buyers who aren't sure how to buy loose leaf tea of the best quality, the only advice would be to explore and experiment. That is the only way one could gain a better understanding of all the flavors and aromas of different varieties of loose leaf tea. Each variety is unique and worth a try. By allowing yourself to experiment with different flavors and techniques, you’d stumble upon the fascinating world of tea making and in turn, discover your own preferences.
The magical essence of loose leaf tea has enthralled generations of tea lovers across the globe. Wonder why? Its distinct aroma, unforgettable flavor, the riveting process of brewing, and of course a strong sense of nostalgia - all these make a simple packet of loose leaf tea one of the most cherished possessions of a tea lover. If you wish to savor the magic, the Old Harbour Tea brand would assist you in choosing from a wide variety of loose leaf tea. You sure won't forget the experience for a long time.
Try Old Harbor Loose leaf premium green tea by clicking HERE