All tea is not the same tea. One of the main differences between loose-leaf tea and tea bags is the cut of the tea. Loose-leaf consists of grand tea leaves or whole tea leaves, whereas tea bags generally contain smaller particles. Bigger leaves equal more prominent flavor.
The time difference between making loose-leaf tea or using a tea bag is significant. There are fewer steps, and it takes less time to brew a cup of tea from a bag. Paying attention to the amount of time you steep tea from tea bags is still vital for green and black teas. However, with herbal teas, you can safely leave the teabag in while you sip.
“According to the Tea Association of the USA, Americans consumed over 84 billion servings of tea—more than 3.8 billion gallons—in 2018. On any given day, more than one-half of the American population drinks tea.”
Tea Bags or Tea Sachets
Teabags and tea sachets are convenient for travel and for taking to the office.
When buying individual tea bags, choose a quality company that uses organic tea for the best flavor.
Tea sachets are cute little pouches of tea leaves. They allow for more room for the leaves to open up during brewing. The more room tea has to expand during the brewing process, the more flavor your cup of tea will have.
Teabags contain broken pieces of tea and will brew faster because of this. They are an excellent choice to have in the office breakroom or waiting rooms. I prefer organic teas in unbleached paper tea bags when choosing this option. Not all tea bags are the same.
Just over 50% of Americans prefer loose-leaf tea. However, I have a feeling if you were to blind taste test Americans with a brewed cup of tea, they would all choose those made from loose-leaf teas. The flavor is bolder, and you will gain more medicinal benefits from using whole or significant cuts of tea leaves.
The process I go through in the mornings to make tea is a soothing ritual that excites me. The slow process comforts me and gets me ready for tea time. It generally takes me 8-10 minutes to make a green tea latte, with several steps to complete.
- I start by setting out my stainless-steel thermos.
- I bring fresh, cold water to a boil (never re-boiling old water in the kettle).
- If I am making green or herbal tea, I allow the kettle to sit for 1-3 minutes before pouring it over the delicate tea leaves.
- While the kettle sits, I add a scoop or two of tea.
- I add local honey from my friend Sabrina’s bee farm or homemade herbal syrup.
- I pour the hot water (cooled boiling water) over the tea and cover.
- For green tea, I steep for 3-4 minutes. For herbal teas, I steep for 20 minutes to a few hours (occasionally overnight). For black tea, I steep for 4-5 minutes and use boiling hot water. *Green and black tea can get bitter if steeped for too long.
- I use a different stainless-steel thermos with a tea strainer to pour the tea into, separating the tea leaves. Occasionally I will re-use the tea leaves. Otherwise, I add them to the compost. I have a long-handled tea strainer. These can be purchased at any grocery store chain. Tea balls do not allow enough room for the expansion of whole tea leaves and bigger cuts of tea; therefore, I avoid them.
- If making yerba mate, I use a mason jar and allow the leaves to remain. I use a metal straw to keep the leaves from going into my mouth. You can add more hot water over the same tea leaves with yerba mate with no bitter taste.
- If I am making a tea latte, I gently heat milk in a small saucepan on medium heat. I turn off the fire after it is hot and use a hand-held frother to whip it up. I add 20% steamed milk to a cup of tea for the perfect tea latte. I will occasionally dust the milk with cinnamon or coconut sugar for a little added sweet flavor.
- I have long-handled tea spoons that I use to stir in honey and to add the milk foam. Purchasing a lovely and tall spoon adds to the pleasure of the tea ritual.
Traveling with loose-leaf tea
Since tea time is a lovely ritual that I want to have when I am away from home, I carefully pack everything I need to make a delightful cup of tea on trips. When choosing AirBNB’s, I look for those with a tea kettle in the room. If there is a stovetop but no kettle, I will use a pot to boil water. I do not make tea from a coffee pot because I do not like the taste of coffee. You can heat water in the microwave if there are no other choices; however, I avoid this whenever possible.
I bring two stainless-steel thermoses. I love Kleen Kanteen as they stay hot or cold for several hours and will not leak when turned upside down. I bring my tea strainer. I bring my metal tea straw. I bring tea, honey, and a long spoon. I pack a carton of almond milk or bring some in a small jar for short trips.
When driving several hours on car trips, I bring a real teacup and a full thermos full of tea. I pour cups of tea at stoplights and rest stops and enjoy holding my mug in the car. Music, a podcast, or an Audible book mimics my mornings with tea and a book on my back porch when my day involves travel.
For more inspiration, read the links above on past articles at You, Me, and Uni. The healing ritual of tea contains information on several herbal teas that are beneficial to your health. All You, Me, and Uni teas: Trust Your Gut, Know Your Gut and Meditative State of Mind can be purchased through Amazon. For more information on You, Me and Uni, check out the website, created by Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht. Browse the herbal tea articles on the site for more tips on adding delicious tea to your healthy lifestyle.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a writer, editor and the owner of Walden Writes For Women.