Why Loose Leaf Teas Are Healthier Than Teabags
It is indeed a topic of big debate whether loose leaf tea is better than teabags, and if yes, why. While it is true to some extent that loose leaf tea is better than teabags, a lot of it is more generalized. Let’s see which are the healthiest teas, why loose leaf tea is normally better than teabags and how you can change from teabags to loose tea.
Whole Leaf Tea Vs Teabags
Whole leaf tea refers to tea which is primarily made up of unbroken whole leaves. Teabags are normally made from the opposite, i.e. low tea grades, like dust and fannings. Fannings and dust are smaller pieces of tea, so they have a bigger surface area than whole leaves. A bigger surface area refers to more chances of evaporation of the essential oils which make tea aromatic and flavorful. This leaves the tea dull and stale. Thus with teabags, freshness is a major issue, particularly if they are packed in paper boxes with wrappings of paper.
Some types of tea are broken during processing and they are not technically whole leaf tea, e.g. many varieties of steamed Japanese green teas. Though they are of highest quality, freshness can be an issue.
Sometimes teabags too are made with whole leaf tea, but they are very rare.
Loose Leaf Tea Vs Teabags
Loose leaf tea is the tea which is not brewed in a teabag. When you steep loose leaf tea, it has (rather should have) room for tea leaves to soak into water and swell as they infuse. This lets the water flow through the leaves and extracts a number of vitamins, minerals, aromas and flavors from the leaves.
When teabag tea is steeped, its infusion is restricted by the size of the teabag. Packing full-leaf tea inside a small teabag doesn’t create a very flavorful cup. For several years, the teabag industry adjusted tea in teabags. By filling smaller particles of tea in the teabags, instead of whole leaves, the surface area and rate of infusion were increased. This resulted in a more flavorful, though not typically nuanced, brew. It was easy-to-make, cheap and good enough for an average “milk and sugar” tea drinker, and so it got success.
Why Loose Leaf Tea and Smaller Surface Area is Important?
Tea is not only tasty, but it is a health drink. Western researchers who have recently found that the tea is a healthy beverage did a lot of research and came to exciting conclusions. They have found that tea contains many antioxidants because of which it fights with many diseases, like heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. It promotes weight loss, lowering of cholesterol and mental alertness.
Though there are many varieties of tea, only black, white, green, pu-erh and oolong tea are considered to be real teas. They are yielded from the plant Camellia sinesis, native to India and China, which contains a unique type of antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of them is ECGC which can keep away the fatal diseases by fighting free radicals. Moreover, tea also contains a little of caffeine and theanine, which are important to keep brain and mind alert. Tea contains polyphenols which in turn contain flavonoids. In green tea polyphenols are in maximum concentration, while in black and oolong teas they are lessened due to processes like oxidization and fermentation; however antioxidant properties of these later varieties are still high.
Thus to get full advantage of the health benefits of tea, you should drink the variety having less surface area, due to which its healthy contents are retained. And therefore loose leaf tea is more health-giving than teabags with dust or fanning tea which have more surface area.
Most varieties of tea are benign. However FDA has warned about some varieties like dieter’s teas which contain aloe, senna, buckthorn and other laxatives or plant origin.
FDA has also warned to be cautious of herbal supplements which claim to fight cancer and kill pain. None of the claims are backed by scientific researches and can cause health problems.
Best way is to read the ingredients on the label while buying tea and confirm that it doesn’t contain any of the contents against which FDA warns. If you take this precaution, you can enjoy as much tea as you want of any variety, but if you are really serious about your health and desire more health benefits from tea, you should prefer the loose leaf teas.