Tea has several proven health benefits, but if you want to make the best out of your brew, you might want to step out of the teabags and into the world of loose leaf tea. Brewed in pretty much the same way as tea bags, loose leaf has certain advantages when it comes to quality. For one, loose leaf tea is often of a higher class than those in teabags, since the latter are usually made from the “dust” and fannings of tea leaves. While the smaller pieces and larger surface area would make such form easier (and sometimes more flavorful) to brew, this would also mean that there’s plenty of opportunity for the bioactive compounds that make tea so healthy to evaporate.
Almost all types of tea could appear in loose leaf versions, except in cases where the creation of the tea variety would involve the grinding or tearing of tea leaves (such as matcha). You can find loose leaf versions of green and black tea, as well as those of white and oolong. There have been some studies that exclusively looked at the health benefits of loose leaf tea, and here are some results.
Benefits of Loose Leaf Tea
1. It has virucidal properties.
A study in 2006 looked at various types of loose leaf tea, studying how freshly-prepared and stored infusions would affect two types of viral agents. The results showed that no matter when it was brewed, loose leaf tea had significant virucidal effects that manifested without harming the non-viral organisms the virus has attached to.
2. It has less methylxanthine than teabags.
In a late 1990s study, teabags were shown to extract approximately twice the amount of methylxanthines from tea than loose leaf preparations. Methylxanthines are those chemical compounds in tea (including caffeine) that may be harmful in large doses. This is important, because those drinking tea from tea bags may find themselves more predisposed to the ill effects caused by too much of these chemicals. One of the methylxanthines, for example, is theobromine — a bitter compound that is responsible for theobromine poisoning if and when drank in large quantities.
3. It has higher folacin levels.
In a 1983 study, a team of scientists tried to check whether loose leaf tea preparations had more or less folacin content than that of teabag preparations. Folacin, also known as Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), is an important nutrient for bodily functions. The researchers found that the tea itself, whether whole or in teabags, did not have varying amounts of folacin extracted. However, they found that the teabags themselves inhibited the process of extraction, therefore making tea bag preparations less than optimal if you want to extract the full benefits.
4. It has higher antioxidant activities.
In a study done in Korea, researchers looked at the antioxidant properties of loose leaf green tea. It was found that the better the grade of the loose leaf tea was, the more antioxidant activity it was capable of inducing. It is of note that loose leaf teas are generally made from higher-grade leaves than those in teabags.
5. It has less contaminants than commercial teas.
Drinking your own loose leaf tea preparation may be healthier not just because of all the bioactive compounds you are getting, but because by nature loose leaf has less contaminants than most commercial products. A study found that commercially available iced tea, for example, despite being heavily processed, also has the potential to have more bacterial contaminants due to post-brewing handling. The study found that there are more fecal coliforms in a glass of iced tea bought in restaurants than in loose leaf teas brewed.
6. It can last for longer.
Another experiment verified that loose leaf teas have longer-lasting antioxidant capacities than the bagged variety. A 2017 study found that loose leaf tea has antioxidant activities even after six brews, while tea bags usually cease displaying any similar activity after only two brews.
7. It allows for better extraction of compounds.
There are several studies, referenced in the body of the research mentioned below that have proven loose leaf tea to be superior to bagged varieties when it comes to the extraction of beneficial compounds. Thus, it is often used for experiments as a benchmark of the compounds available in tea varieties.
8. It helps sustain a healthy tea lifestyle.
While people can choose over several types of tea, most people prefer those with less bitterness. Sometimes, this means tea that has not been completely steeped to extract its full flavors, and therefore nutrients. It has been shown by some studies, however, that those who use loose leaf preparations typically like stronger preparations, meaning those which extract the active compounds of tea to their fullest potential.
9. It allows for better cold brewing.
If you’re a fan of cold-brewing, which has been said to preserve the most vital nutrients in tea, you’ll be happy to know that there is a study proving loose leaf teas to be better for cold brewing than tea bags. In fact, the cold brew process shows to be better overall for whole leaves than the regular brewing process.
10. It helps dissolve food allergens.
One study in 2012 used loose leaf tea as the subject of experiments proving that green tea can help dissolve some major food allergens in the digestive tract. Loose leaf tea has been compared to green tea supplement dissolved in water, and both had comparable results.
Loose Leaf Tea Essentials
Drinking tea has now been a common practice due to its benefits on health and losing weight. Most people hear the word tea and they just think…tea.
Simple as that.
It doesn’t matter if it’s loose leaf tea, steeped tea, bagged tea, or, heck, even iced tea. It’s all the same to them. But for the avid tea lover, they’ll know how lovely a good loose leaf tea can be. Here is a list of loose leaf tea tools and stuffs that would make great gifts.
This is the single most important tool you will need if you plan to make loose leaf tea.
Without a diffuser you won’t get very far. Basically, how it works is you select the loose leaf tea you want to make, add boiled water, and then let it sit.
The diffuser, depending on the model or type you have, will then push the loose leaves down, leaving the delicious tea for you to pour.
The loose leaf tea infuser is not to be confused with the diffuser. Similar names but completely different functions.
Both are essential to making loose leaf tea, but having both isn’t necessary, just one or the other. An infuser is like a small mesh-like basket that you put the loose leaves in, close it, and then drop into hot water.
The infuser allows the water to seep through and make your yummy tea.
3. Filter Bags
These are sort of like an infuser, in theory. But with an infuser, it can be washed and reused. A filter bag normally can’t.
4. Tea Box
This isn’t really necessary, but tea lovers will consider it an essential thing for loose leaf tea.
A nice tea box will have multiple compartments so you can organize all of the different flavours of loose leaves you love.
5. Cream and Sugar Dishes
While some prefer to drink the tea naturally pure or with a little bit of honey, others like to add a bit of creamer/milk and a dash of sugar.
Having a fancy little cream and sugar bowl can be a cute accessory to your tea collection. Or, if cream and sugar isn’t your thing, use the dish set to hold honey.
6. Brew Basket
This is definitely a loose leaf tea essential if you have friends who also enjoy it.
A brew basket works the same way an infuser does. Only, you can make a large quantity of tea at once.
Not really necessary, but again, can be an essential tool for an avid tea lover.
A cute teaspoon, or even a personalized one, is a great addition to your tea collection.
8. Tea Tongs
These babies date back to the age of kings and queens.
Tea tongs are used for squeezing that little bit of extra flavour from the tea bag or filter bag.
An airpot is essentially a tea pot but only, it’s insulated.
Use your brew basket to make a large amount of tea and put it in your airpot to keep it warm for the whole day.
And if you’re a tea freak, you can fill your airpot in the morning and take it to work.
And lastly, it’s not crucial but for sure a must have for tea lovers.
A good mug, one that has a roomy handle and holds plenty of tea, is certainly a tea essential not to miss.
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