Loose Leaf Tea
What is loose leaf tea
Also called "whole leaf tea", a loose leaf tea is primarily made up of whole, unbroken leaves. As the leaves remain whole the qualities and aromas of loose leaf teas are quite distinct from those of other formats.
Many connoisseurs would say that loose leaf teas are inherently superior, exhibiting particularly refreshing aromas and distinct memorable flavours.
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. Teabags available in the market usually contain dust and fanning grades, crushed before packaging into teabags.
The smaller broken leaves of dust and fanning grades offer a larger surface area compared to whole leaves. A larger surface area implies more opportunity for some 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 varying amounts of antioxidants.
During the process of steeping, the fact that loose leaf tea is not constrained within a teabag means that there is enough free space for the tea leaves to absorb more water and expand as they steep.
Water flowing through the leaves extracts a wider range of aromas and flavors from the leaves.
Broadly speaking there are three most favoured categories of loose leaf tea:
- Loose Leaf Black Tea - One of the world's most popular and well-loved teas, black tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Heavy oxidation after plucking 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 - This popular category of loose leaf tea is also processed from Camellia Sinensis plant leaves. However, unlike black tea, loose leaf green tea is subjected to minimal oxidation during processing allowing the leaves to retain their natural green colouring.
The lighter flavour and soothing aroma of green tea, coupled with its greater concentration of antioxidants, sets it apart from most 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. However the tea leaves are subjected to heat as quickly as possible after plucking 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.
Items 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 enjoyable and interesting. The basic process is quite simple and hassle-free. However, you could also indulge your creativity and feel free to experiment with a multitude of techniques, each of which would add different flavours to the same tea leaves. After all…. tea making is an art.
The basic steps are as follows:
- Boil water in a tea kettle.
- 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, but just short of boiling, 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, generally from x to y minutes. Beyond that stipulated time, dunk the infuser multiple times to ensure proper circulation.
- Set aside the infuser and perform a second steeping of just the liquid brew for 2-3 minutes. This will bring out the unique flavour.
- Tea is ready to be served.
Alternatively, you may rinse the teapot with warm water to pre-prepare a temperature for brewing, add the leaves, and finally pour the hot water on top. The water temperature should be around 70-80 degrees (C) and the leaves should be steeped for 2-3 minutes.
The shelf life of loose leaf tea
Loose leaf tea has a remarkably long shelf life. However, this also depends on external factors such as temperature, type of container, and place of storage.
If loose leaf tea in stored in a dark container or a bag at room temperature or cooler, away from direct sunlight, it can last for many years without losing any of its inherent qualities.
Ideally, loose leaf tea should be stored in sealable containers, especially airtight stainless steel containers and colored glass containers. These prevent exposure to sunlight.
Loose leaf tea needs to be kept away from substances that can potentially modify its characteristics, such as spices.
Temperature fluctuation also damages loose leaf tea, so avoiding storing near heaters, air conditioners, or windows is essential.
A note for first time buyers
For first time buyers who aren't sure how to buy loose leaf tea of the most suitable quality, the best advice would be to explore and experiment. That is the only reliable way by which one gains a better understanding of the flavours and aromas of different varieties of loose leaf tea. Each variety is unique and worth trying. By allowing yourself to experiment with different flavours and techniques, you are sure to be captured by the fascinating world of tea making and, in turn, discover your own distinct preferences.
To start the journey and savour the magic, Old Harbour Tea opens up a pathway by offering a wide variety of top quality loose leaf teas.
Once you start by selecting any one of these you will surely be captured by the journey.
Try Old Harbor Loose leaf premium green tea by clicking HERE