Nearly everyone has been exposed to tea in some way or another. Perhaps a relative has made you tea when you were not feeling well, or maybe you tried a bagged tea while in a waiting room, or perhaps you’ve always been more of a fan of tea over coffee. Many people’s first exposure to tea was the tea bag. That little paper pocket of tea dust on a string has been produced at such a low price using low quality ingredients that they are cheaply spread out almost everywhere, and in many people’s cupboards. Unfortunately, most of the tea bags are filled with dust from the plant we love so much, bottom of the barrel. Oftentimes, the tea bag will be stale and dull in flavor, because the store that sold it probably did not know when it was produced, when it was last restocked, or how long it’s been sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
If you want to give tea a real try, you have to try loose leaf tea. With loose-leaf, you will get full, flavorful leaves that will enhance the flavor, and enhance the experience as a whole. You can also clearly see and smell what you are about to steep, this helps add to the quality, without the contents being hidden in a teabag. Loose leaf tea is the highest quality of tea available, and in many cases, is not really that much more expensive than the low quality dust you get with tea bags. To be clear, there certainly are expensive loose leaf teas out there, some even selling for thousands of dollars per pound, however, that is the exception; there are many high-quality loose leaf teas that can easily be found for as little as $2 – $3 per ounce, which makes 12-14 cups of tea.
You will also notice the visually stunning leaves of different types of teas with loose-leaf; the yellow tips of a golden yunnan tea, or the silver and gray tips of leaves in a high-grade formosa oolong, or the colored specks of leaves found in Darjeeling teas. For loose leaf teas that are flavored, you will often find a beautiful presentation of colors from different herbs, dried fruits, and decorative flowers. When you brew loose leaf tea, you will notice how much the leaves expand, doubling or tripling in size! But the real reward comes in the taste. Loose leaf teas will have a depth of flavor simply not found in bagged teas. Teas with sweet notes will be sweeter, teas that are grassy will be more grassy. After some practice and experience, you will easily be able to pick up different flavor notes, differences in mouth texture, and the many subtleties in different grades of tea.