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Tea Bags vs Loose Leaf: Which is Better for You and How to Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds?

Tea Bags vs Loose Leaf: Which is Better for You and How to Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds?

Tea Bags vs Loose Leaf

Tea bags or loose-leaf teas? Are you taking your green tea, black tea, or oolong, one steep at a time? And yet, at the back of your head, you’re wondering if there’s a better way to enjoy the leaves from the Camella Sinensis evergreen shrub.

For tea connoisseurs, choosing between tea bags or loose-leaf teas can be a walk in the park. But for millions who simply want to boost their mornings, it all boils down to convenience. And more often than not (like you probably do), tea bags win the day

On the other end of the spectrum, while unbagged teas usually command a steeper price, they provide a complete tea experience that’s tough to beat. 

Before you conclude that zeroing in on the better choice is a tall order, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. 

In this post, we’ll show you what each popular form of tea — tea bags, or loose-leaf — brings to the table and why choosing one (over the other) can benefit you and the whole family. And how you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Read on. 



tea with tea Bags on table

The Case for Tea Bags

A heads up though. Know that both loose-leaf teas and tea leaves in a tea bag are from the Camellia Sinensis shrub. That simply means that the health benefits they carry are basically the same, (e.g., heart health, albeit in varying degrees). 

FUN FACT: Legend has it that businessman Thomas Sullivan used the very first bags of tea over 100 years ago in America. It wasn’t long before the practice spread like wildfire.

Tea bags solved two problems at once: 1. they made brewing a cuppa easier and 2. they reduced clean-up (you just throw them away after use). 


Tea Bags Advantages Over Loose-leaf Tea 

Here’s a quick look at what tea bags bring to the table compared to loose-leaf tea. 


  • You just can’t beat how easy tea bags are to prepare. Like instant coffee, all you need is a mug/cup and hot water and voila, you’re good to go. With loose-leaf, not only does the process take a lot longer, but also you’d need extra materials (e.g., tea infuser, teapot, tea filter). 


  • Now, here’s a surprise. Generally, tea bags will give you more caffeine than your loose-leaf teas. The tea in tea bags consists of finely ground dust and fannings (small pieces of tea). It all boils down to a higher surface area per volume ratio in these broken leaves than with whole unbroken tea leaves (loose-leaf) giving you more caffeine in the process. 


  • Each tea bag is carefully weighed and will contain anywhere from 1.5 - 3 grams of broken tea. Such a standard translates to a consistent tea experience every time. On the other hand, using loose-leaf tea is a hit-and-miss scenario as to the amount used — unless you want to weigh your tea every time.


    Downsides of Using Tea Bags 

    By far, the biggest downside against tea bags is that you’re dealing with lower-grade tea here (since it uses “fannings” and “dust”). That could easily translate to fewer health benefits.  

    On the other hand, loose-leaf teas are higher-grade tea leaves. Not only does that mean a fuller tea experience, but also a better shot at reaping tons of health benefits when drinking tea — heart health and diabetes management including. 



    teapot with loose leaf on table

    The Case for Loose Leaf Tea 

    By definition, loose-leaf tea consists of whole tea leaves. That means you’ll be enjoying tea leaves in their most unbroken form (unlike tea bags). Now, the quality of your tea will depend on the kind of tea leaves used and how it’s processed. 

    FUN FACT: The highest grade of loose-leaf tea is referred to as “orange pekoe” (OP) and tea leaf buds are the highest quality OP.  When broken for tea bags, these OP tea leaves are called “broken orange pekoe” (BOP).

    Coming up with top-notch whole-leaf tea requires a more tedious process. For instance, tea leaf buds must be picked carefully by using the balls of one’s fingertips (and not by using fingernails or any mechanical means).


    Loose-leaf Tea Advantages Over Tea Bags 

    Below are the biggest advantages of loose-leaf unbagged tea over their bagged counterparts.


  • If you’re one to savor every moment of drinking tea, then loose-leaf is spot on. With unbroken tea leaves, you experience a wider range of tastes with a fuller depth of flavor. Ultimately, that brings about a more complete tea experience that leaves drinking a cuppa using tea bags pale in comparison. 


  • With loose-leaf teas, you have greater room for the tea leaves and the hot water to interact. As a result, you bring about a stronger infusion creating more in-depth flavors and powerful aromas. On the other hand, tea bags have space issues with tea limited to a very tight space.  


  • Since you’re dealing with unbroken higher-grade tea, you reap greater health benefits of drinking tea when using loose-leaf tea rather than tea bags. That means better help in blood circulation and in fighting other life-threatening diseases


    Downsides of Using Loose-leaf Teas 

    The biggest disadvantage of using loose-leaf teas is their price tags as you’re using higher-quality tea here. Tea bags are not only cheaper, they’re more available in stores. 

    Plus, if you’re in a hurry, loose-leaf tea can be a drag. That’s because you will need extra equipment to infuse the leaves in (e.g., tea infuser, teapot, tea filter), not to mention use an unaccounted amount of tea leaves (unless you weigh them). On the contrary, tea bags are a lot easier to prepare. 



    there is a woman drinking tea in a simple house

    The Final Word: Suit Yourself!


    Ultimately, choosing which is better between loose-leaf teas and tea bags is a personal decision. And that means there’s no right or wrong choice. It’s a classic case of to each their own. 


    If you want the full benefits of drinking tea (and you have lots of time), then, loose-leaf fits the bill to T. But if you’re in a hurry,  tea bags are the best way to go.


    There’s good news, however (and one that could sway your selection process to favor tea bags). As the tea industry has grown in leaps and bounds, the quality of tea used in tea bags has greatly improved. 


    So, using tea bags of green tea, oolong or black tea could mean enjoying the best of both worlds.

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