Ah, the old ‘Loose Leaf Tea vs Teabags’ debate. What’s it all about?
Well, I can only speak for myself, but for a long time there, I was a teabag devotee. I loved the convenience.
I loved not having to worry about wayward leaves in my teeth.
I loved not dealing with gritty bits.
But as time has gone by, I’ve come to fully appreciate, love, & even prefer loose leaf tea. Here’s a rundown of the reasons why:
Generally speaking, loose leaf tea is higher quality than bagged tea.
Because teabags can be used to hide a multitude of sins, including ripped leaves & grainy bits. When leaves are cut, broken or crushed, the essential oils in the leaves which give the tea its flavour (and beneficial health properties) are destroyed.
Most tea companies utilise the best leaves for their loose leaf versions, and any leftovers make their way into bags.
By using whole leaves or only partially cut leaves, loose leaf tea allows for a fuller flavour, less bitterness, they can often be re-steeped (rather than just used once), and will stay fresh for longer.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some absolutely amazing quality teabags out there, but for the most part, you will find better quality tea in loose leaf.
Now tea (without the added milk & sugar) is for the most part inherently healthy. Brewing a pot of loose leaf tea allows you to extract all the nutrients possible, and nothing but the nutrients.
But did you know placing that same tea in bags, and brewing them in hot water, can dramatically increase your intake of microplastics, xenoestrogens, and other endocrine disrupting chemicals?
Let’s break down how that happens.
Commercial teabags often include plastics, in particular polypropylene which is used to help seal the teabags & stop them from falling apart.
In fact, some teabags can contain up to 25% plastic.
Heating plastics in hot (or boiling!) water, just as you do when you steep your tea, allows microplastic particles to leach into the tea.
Some independent studies estimate up to 16 micrograms of microplastics can be found per cup – compare this to table salt which has what is normally considered a ‘high’ content of microplastics at 0.005 micrograms per gram, and you can see why this may be a health concern.
I’ll talk about xenostrogens in another blog post, but know this is an environmental hazard we want to minimize.