Folks, I have a confession to make.
I was not always a tea snob.
That’s right! There was a time in my life when the only tea I would drink was Arizona Green and the occasional mug of Mandarin Orange Spice spiked with enough sugar to choke a lesser being. But I have always been a picky eater and a choosy person, so when I started reading more about what one could do with tea, I was intrigued.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against those who drink tea and avoid the snobbier elements. It’s a personal choice. Tea snobbery is an expensive and exhausting attitude to maintain. I should know.
Now, your crash course in why you should care about what you get your tea from.
So why shouldn’t I just stick to teabags? Loose-leaf is expensive!
First off, you’ve got your standard, everyday teabags. Celestial Seasonings, Bigelow, Lipton, etc. What you have to understand is that they’re kind of the hot dogs of the tea world. They’re filled with the dust and fannings that remain after the nice, full leaves, buds and tips have gone into loose-leaf teas or whole-leaf teabags.
That’s why they’re so much cheaper than teas like Adagio or Teavana: they’re made from the leftovers. They’re not awful, but they don’t have as full of a flavor, are more likely to go stale, and can’t really be re-steeped at all.
Behold, white tea fannings…
…and whole-leaf black tea.
So what about these whole-leaf teabags? So that’s, like, all the joy of loose-leaf in the convenience of a teabag?
Exactly! Great stuff. Mighty Leaf and Two Leaves and a Bud both sell good whole-leaf teas in biodegradable pouches. I prefer Two Leaves and a Bud because their teabags are pyramidical.
Pyramidical? And that’s…important? For that matter, I’m still not getting why loose leaf tea is still the be-all end-all.
Glad you asked!
I didn’t. You’re typing this yourself.
Too bad! I’m going to answer my question.
It has to do with letting the tea leaves expand. You see, tea leaves were once plants in the ground. When confronted with water, they try to drink as much of it up as possible. It’s in our best interests to give them enough space to let that happen, because the more they expand, the more flavorful your tea is.
Check out how much the leaves will expand if you let them.
And that’s why loose-leaf tea is the bomb. It’s like the difference between airplane food and a five-star restaurant. Compared to teabags, whole-leaf teas are like an explosion of delicious tea flavor in your mouth. Seriously, try it once.
But loose-leaf looks like a lot of work.
Thankfully, there are solutions. Teavana sells disposable paper tea filters, and you can find the Ingenuitea teapot pictured above all over the place. I prefer the Ingenuitea for the leaf-expanding reasons, and it’s pretty easy to clean. Just dump the leaves into the trash can when you’re done and pop it into the dishwasher. It’s also really fun to show off to friends and family (“Look, I put it on the mug and the tea comes out of the bottom LIKE MAGIC”).
More on the Ingenuitea pots later. For now, go make yourself an afternoon cuppa and watch some TV or something. That was a lot of reading.