How to Choose the Best Loose Leaf Tea in the Market
If you want to enjoy a proper cup of tea, then there is no denying that loose leaf tea is the way to go. Despite it involving a bit more hassle, each one of us makes it a point to brew at least a cup a day using proper tea leaves.
Of course, after a lifetime of relying on only tea bags, making the leap to loose leaf tea can be a little daunting. Well, we are here to lend a guiding hand.
In this post, we will cover everything that you need to know about the top loose tea. Thus, you will find out why they are superior to tea bags, how to select the right type for you, and what brands beat out all the others.
Now, let’s get you started on selecting your very own loose leaf teas.
Twinings is undoubtedly one of the more famous tea brands around the world. We picked this as our favorite as the flavor profile strikes all the right notes for a wide variety of tea drinkers.
Harney and Sons is a well-known tea company and the brand has really made a mark with this Japanese Sencha. If you are looking for a more authentic green tea drinking experience, then these are the leaves for you.
TETE has produced an artisanal white tea, that falls right in the middle of the premium and value spectrum. A considerable amount of care has gone into selecting the white tea leaves for this product.
Republic of Tea stays as close to its tea origins as possible. As such, you can expect a more traditional taste with this brand. At the same time, the milky approach to this oolong tea is also an effort for a more creative tea.
Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags
No thanks, take me to the Best Loose Leaf Tea
Let’s first talk about why you should make the switch to loose leaf tea in the first place. This is something that most people are reluctant to do since tea bags offer convenience.
However, loose leaf tea has several advantages over tea bags:
Loose Leaf Tea Tends to Be Of Higher Quality
Now, as you can imagine, there is a variation in quality when it comes to both loose leaf teas as well as teabags. For instance, some of the higher quality tea bags may offer up better tea quality than poor-quality loose leaf teas.
That being said, it is more common to find lower quality tea in teabags. This is because many brands stuff tea bags with dust or fannings. Naturally, these result in tea that doesn’t taste quite as bold.
There is also the fact that much of the tea that you find in tea bags are of the blended variety. Essentially, the tea leaves are gathered from all over the world. Thus, there isn’t much of a nuanced taste to the final brew.
Most tea connoisseurs have always drunk loose leaf tea. In fact, this tends to be the norm with those who have more experienced palettes. This is a fact that brands are very aware of.
As a result, they will make an effort to find single-origin teas or opt for higher quality leaves for loose leaf teas.
Loose Leaf Tea Allows for Optimal Unfurling
For a moment, let’s consider the science of steeping tea. When you place tea leaves in hot water, the tea leaves absorb the water and expand. The more they are allowed to expand, the more flavor and nutrients they can release.
With tea leaves, there is absolutely no restriction on this process. Since the tea leaves are given as much space as they need, they can absorb the water and unfurl as required.
Therefore, loose leaf teas give the brew a much richer taste.
Obviously, this same mechanism can’t take place with tea bags. Since the leaves are trapped inside the space, there aren’t able to unfurl as needed.
Companies have attempted to mitigate this issue a bit by cutting the tea leaves into smaller pieces before placing them in the tea bags.
Although this takes care of the expansion problem, cutting the leaves in this manner does take something away from the taste. Due to this, you are right back to drinking poor quality tea.
How to Select the Best Tea Leaves
Now that we have settled the matter of how loose leaf teas are superior, it is time to move onto the selection process.
Here, there are the main factors to pay attention to – appearance, aroma, texture, and taste:
In many cases, you should be able to determine the quality of loose tea by just looking at the tea leaves.
Understand, higher-quality leaves are gently rolled rather than harshly cut up. As such, they still retain a similar appearance to whole tea leaves. So, look for long and curled leaves.
At the same time, watch out for loose tea that appears to have many stalks or wood components to them. These aren’t high-quality teas.
If you have the opportunity, inhale the scent of the tea leaves deeply. Do you get a strong, pleasant aroma? This is good news and is a sign that the leaves are fresh and are of a higher caliber.
Keep in mind that aroma is often indicative of taste. Thus, a tea that has barely any aroma will not offer a bold or delicious brew.
Yes, the feel of tea leaves can tell you quite a bit about the quality as well. They should be smooth and sturdy – steer clear of anything that feels crumbly.
In addition, good tea leaves should have a little weight to them. This is an indicator that the leaves have been dried to perfection and still retain all those important flavor notes.
Taste is subjective – due to this, you need to find a loose leaf tea that tastes good to you. Naturally, this means that some trial and error may be involved.
Eventually, though, you will find exactly which tea makes your taste buds tingle.
How to Buy Loose Leaf Tea Online
Of course, there is a good chance that you may want to shop for loose leaf tea online. In this case, the above advice won’t do you much good until you get the tea leaves into your hands.
No need to fret, though, there are still a few tricks that you can use to select the best online options:
Consider the Background
There are so many different factors that can impact the quality of tea. This includes soil, elevation, temperatures, rainfall, and even how the tea is plucked.
It is because of this that you should always consider the background of the brand or store you wish to buy from.
For instance, if they grow their own tea leaves, what kind of standards are they adhering to? Check how the tea leaves are grown, cut, processed, and packaged.
In case the brand outsources the leaves, take a look at the criteria they use to find these leaves. Just how stringent are they?
Read the Reviews
Reviews can go a long way when shopping for loose leaf tea online. This is because these evaluations provide you with insight into quality, taste, customer service, and a lot more.
Thus, if you were to see repetitive comments about certain downsides, you will have an understanding of their weaknesses. You can decide whether or not this is a company that you want to purchase from.
Look for Samples
It is a good idea to look for samples when buying tea online. Although you will be expected to pay for them, it is a much smaller investment.
Not to mention, small samples also allow you to experiment with different types, strains, and flavors without having to purchase large quantities.
The Best Loose Leaf Tea Brands
Now, let’s move onto the brands that produce some of the top loose leaf teas in the market. To make it easier for you to select one that is right for you, we have included picks for premium, value, and our personal favorites.
VADHAM DARJEELING BLACK TEA
Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold Loose Leaf
Twinings Traditional English Tea
Tealyra Imperial Jasmine Dragon Pearls
Davidson’s Gunpowder Green Tea
Harney and Sons Japanese Sencha
The Tao of Tea Imperial White Blend
Extreme Health White Tea
TETE White Tea
Golden Moon Organic Oolong Tea
Teatulia Organic Oolong Tea
Republic of Tea - Milk Oolong
So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about selecting the very best loose leaf tea on the market. Regardless of what you are looking for, you will certainly be able to find any hints that you need right here.
What do you think about our tips and suggestions? Leave a comment below to let us know. And, if you know of a friend or family member who could use this information, go ahead and pass it along to them!
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