At first glance, convenience might appear to be the only difference between tea bags and tea leaves.
After all, tea bags have tea leaves in them, right? The truth is that when you’re drinking tea made from tea bags, you’re imbibing something almost unrecognizable from what you’d get if you brewed tea leaves.
Tea leaves are far better quality than what’s found in tea bags.
In fact, the quality is so much better that we’ve come up with 10 reasons it’s better to brew tea leaves than tea bags – and how making the switch will change your life.
1. Tea Leaves Taste Better
The ‘tea’ found in tea bags isn’t the whole leaf but what is called “fanning”.
Fanning is essentially tea dust. It’s the scraps left over from sending the leaves through production.
When you’re brewing tea leaves, you’re brewing the whole leaf, which means you’re getting maximum flavor and all the health benefits of drinking tea.
2. You Won’t Need to Add Milk, Sugar, or Honey
Because tea leaves include the whole leaf, the flavor is simultaneously richer and lighter.
Tea leaves taste less ‘mucky’ – a very scientific but apt term to describe low-quality tea bags.
When you’re able to enjoy the natural flavor of the tea, you’ll likely find you don’t need to add milk to an already delicious earl gray, sugar to a black, or honey to anything green.
3. Tea Leaves Can Be Brewed Twice
Tea bags are wasteful in that you brew them and then bin them.
It’s because they’re made with tea dust – not tea leaves.
However, many tea leaves can be steeped several times. Here are a few:
- Herbal teas
- Flavored teas (though, they’ll typically lose most flavor after the first steeping)
Tea leaves should typically be re-steeped within a couple hours. But re-steeping means you’re able to enjoy a second cup of tea with the same leaves, which is ideal for rare or expensive teas that you’d prefer not to waste.
Not sure how long your favorite tea is meant to steep? See our easy guide to steeping times here.
4. Tea Leaves Are Packaged and Stored Properly
Most tea bags come in a plastic bag or paper box.
These modes of storage are fine for transport, but they’re not great for storage. Yet, using the right storage methods is the best way to protect the quality of your tea.
Tea leaves typically come in a food-safe tin that protects it from light, heat, moisture, and odors that might affect the quality. So, tea leaves arrive properly, and you don’t need to come up with new storage solutions once you’ve brought them home.
5. Tea Bags May Have Additives
Tea dust doesn’t taste good, so many manufacturers include additives in their tea bag blends.
Artificial flavoring is a common ingredient in tea blends with interesting flavors. Although most brands won’t disclose what this flavor is derived from, there’s no need to imbibe artificial flavors that may be manipulations of dangerous chemicals when you can enjoy the full natural flavor of tea from tea leaves.
6. Tea Bag Tea May Have Gluten
Those with Celiac disease go out of their way to avoid gluten. But unless you’re drinking tea made from barley, oats, or malt, you probably don’t think about checking the label of tea for gluten.
After all, tea comes from a plant that is naturally gluten-free.
Most teas are safe, but some teas, like Tazo tea and now Teavana products, may contain gluten as a result of added flavorings.
7. Tea Leaves Need Room to Provide Full Flavor
You might have noticed that tea leaves expand significantly after they’re brewed. They do this because they’re full of water, but also because they need to expand to release their full flavor.
Only when tea leaves are able to expand can they let the maximum amount of water flow, which brings out all the flavors and aromas as well as the vitamins and minerals we love about tea.
Even if you’re buying high-quality tea bags, the leaves will still be trapped within the bag, which makes it significantly harder for them to expand.
8. Teabag Strings Aren’t Microwave Safe
If you’re one of those people who not only leave their tea bag in their tea after it’s brewed but also microwaves their water, then you’d be better off using tea leaves.
Not only does using tea leaves mostly force you to remove the leaves, which provides a better brew, but it’s safer to microwave tea leaves.
The strings and tags on tea bags aren’t safe to use in the microwave because they’re treated with chemicals. This brings us to our next point.
9. Tea Bags Themselves Are Bad For You
Paper tea bags are treated with a compound called epichlorohydrin.
Epichlorohydrin is legal to use in food products, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an industrial solvent and carcinogen.
Plastic tea bags are even worse for your health than paper. Although they’re rated as being safe for distributing food, not all plastic bags are able to maintain their integrity if put in the microwave or submerged in boiling water.
That means toxins are potentially leaking from the tea bag into the tea.
10. You Can Create Your Own Blends
By buying tea leaves, you’re able to create blends with ingredients closest to your heart.
All you need to do is buy tea leaves and whatever spices, herbs, blossoms, or flowers you most enjoy and steep them in some water to brew.
In fact, you don’t even need to purchase these. You can even grow your own tea and herbs at home and create blends straight from your garden.
You Don’t Need an Excuse to Drink Full Leaf Tea…
Tea leaves are light years ahead of tea bags. They’re superior in quality, flavor, and in the number of ways you can use them.
Don’t wait, brew your next cup of tea as nature intended – straight from the leaves.
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