What Is So Special About Loose Leaf Tea?
All teas (not including herbal tea) are made from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. To make any given tea, the top 1-4 leaves of new growth are harvested and processed. The reason that there are 6 unique categories of tea (white, yellow, green, oolong, black, and post-fermented) is that the fresh leaf is processed in different ways to create different flavors. The processing is complicated, but at the core of it, they are all done to control the level of oxidation in the tea leaves.
For example, green teas have very little oxidation, while black teas are fully oxidized. The rest are somewhere in-between. Traditional methods call for hand harvesting and processing these leaves. This is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming process, so these days the majority of commodity teas (anything you find in a traditional grocery store) are made from leaves that were machine harvested and processed. Usually, they are broken up into very fine pieces and packed into tea bags. We call these teas fannings or dust. Because they are so broken up, the water has lots of surface area to get into the leaf and pull out the flavor. It also means that the more bitter components of the tea will be released and that the leaves will only last for one cup. This type of mechanical processing usually does not focus on producing refined flavors, but instead opts simply for strong and consistent flavors.
If you have whole-leaf specialty loose leaf tea, especially one that was processed in small batches (either with mechanical help or fully by hand like ours!), the tea is more likely to have been processed with care to retain its full flavor potential, producing a more nuanced and layered cup. These teas are less likely to get the bitter or astringent notes that the bagged teas often have, and they can be reinfused several times.
What are the health benefits of loose leaf tea?