Organic Loose Leaf Tea: The Ultimate Guide
Organic Loose Leaf Tea: The Ultimate Guide
You may be wondering… Is loose leaf tea or tea bags a better option for me?
It’s a common question that many people have so we have created a beginner’s guide to help you navigate all the possible options for a delightful tea drinking experience.
In this Ultimate Guide, you are going to learn how to choose, brew, store, drink and all about the healthy benefits of drinking Organic Loose Leaf Tea. This resource will help you decide if loose leaf tea or tea bags are a better option for your lifestyle.
- First Things First: Choose Organic
- Grades of Tea
- Why is Choosing Organic and Grades of Tea Important?
- What is Loose Leaf Tea?
- What’s Better? – Loose vs Tea Bags
- How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea?
- What is a Gaiwan?
- How many times can you steep loose-leaf tea?
- Can you reuse the next day?
- Tea Accessories
First Things First: Choose Organic
Congratulations on making one of the most important decisions! Choosing organic is by far the most important decision to make when selecting the best loose-leaf tea. Organic certified tea farms do not use any pesticides or other processes that can contaminate the tea plants. Fraser Tea considers this incredibly important, so we use only organic certified tea.
Did you know that tea leaves are dried but not washed until you put them in your cup? Unless you enjoy drinking pesticides and other unwanted things, say yes to organic tea. For more on this see “What is Organic Tea?”
Grades of Tea
There is another, even more compelling reason to drink Fraser Tea – The Grading system.
For black tea, there are definitions for the various grades, and these grades are related to the part of the plant that is harvested. The parts of the tea plant near the tip (though smaller) are the highest overall quality. See below graphics showing these different grades.
Green, oolong, and white teas do not have as formalized of a grading system. However, the same general rules apply. Smaller, younger growth leaves being considered highest quality (grade), and the larger leaves the lower grades.
Fraser tea buys only the highest grades of organic loose-leaf tea. TGFOP and TGFOP1 are used to produce our many black tea blends. We use similarly graded tea for green and white tea blends, and we maintain the highest quality standards for these tea blends.
Why is Choosing Organic and Grades of Tea Important?
Our hand-crafted loose leaf AND tea sachets are BOTH made with organic whole leaf tea in the highest grades. Unlike other brands that use dust or fannings in tea bags, we use only WHOLE LEAVES. When other companies use smaller tea cuttings or fannings, this reduces some health benefits. However, with Fraser Tea you can be certain to enjoy the health benefits of drinking tea every day.
Fraser Tea Next Generation Non-GMO Pyramidal Tea Bags were created with your health in mind. These larger volume pyramidal tea bags (sachets) allow the tea leaves to open. Many companies use the smaller square bags which do not need to open very much – mainly because the sachets do not contain whole leaf tea.
Packaging the same amount of loose tea in a sachet is now possible. Both our organic loose leaf and pyramidal tea sachets contain the whole leaf, sometimes also called full leaf tea.
Below is a comparison between the various tea types and the sachets used.
Deciding Factors: Loose Leaf vs Tea Bags
The Bottom Line: The decision to drink Fraser Tea organic loose-leaf tea or tea in bags is dependent on your lifestyle. BOTH options are a great choice.
You only have one decision to make. Do you want to enjoy the perks of loose-leaf tea or the convenience of tea bags? In this ultimate guide, we will cover the pros of each. In addition, we will discuss all the steps, storage, and helpful hints for enjoying loose leaf tea.
What is Loose Leaf Tea?
The most generic definition for “loose” tea means the tea leaves are loose, not packaged before adding them to hot water. Tea bags (or using the more technical term, sachets) hold the tea within a bag of material to prevent the leaves from floating around in the water. There are benefits to both loose and sachets.
Benefits from Loose Leaf
- Stress Buster: Drinking loose leaf is teatime – perfected. The thoughtful ceremonial process of adding water to the teapot and pouring into cups is calming and helps you live in the moment.
- Larger Portions: If you plan on drinking several cups of tea, making a whole pot of tea is convenient when hosting a gathering or for yourself.
- Blend Your Own: Do you like to mix your own tea blends together? It is super easy to do with our premium organic loose-leaf tea. For example, we like to mix Pu-erh Organic Tea with Chamomile Organic Herbal Tea for a calming floral earthy flavored tea. The flavor combinations are endless.
- Better Leaf Expansion: Loose leaves can open freely while steeping in a large tea pot. This allows you obtain more flavor from the tea and enjoy more pours. Whole loose-leaf tea expands and unfurls as it steeps. This expansion produces more flavor with fewer tannins released, providing a taste of freshness and smoothness to the drink. So, loose leaf tea contains larger leaves which results in less bitter, better tasting tea.
Non-GMO Pyramidal Tea Bag Benefits
- Portable: Tea bags (sachets) are easily carried to work, on vacations, on an outdoor hike and wherever you go. They do not take up much space and are individually packaged.
- Non-GMO Project Verified: You can drink in confidence knowing that each sip is organic and does NOT contain any genetically modified organisms (GMO). Fraser tea pyramidal shaped tea bags are made from sugar beets or sugar cane.
- Compostable: Did you know that all parts of our tea bags (pyramidal bag, string, tag) are all compostable? In addition, the box and outer packaging is biodegradable and some even compostable. You can read more about how we care about you and the environment in our Next Generation Non-GMO Pyramidal Tea Bag
- Convenience: All you need is hot water and a cup, and you are prepared for the tea drinking experience. No fancy strainers, infusers or tea pots required. Clean-up is a snap.
Loose Leaf vs Tea Bags
At Fraser Tea, BOTH loose and tea bags are winners!
Whole leaf tea preserves the tea leaf to the highest degree, and pyramidal sachets allow this to conveniently packaged.
Fraser Tea uses ONLY USDA certified organic, whole leaf tea AND non-GMO Vincotte certified compostable pyramidal sachets! This means you can get all the benefits of loose-leaf tea in either loose tea, or a convenient disposable and compostable sachet!
Did you know that our sachets contain more tea per sachet than most of the other tea companies? We understand that our customers enjoy being able to grab a tea sachet in a large mug or thermos and head out for the day.
Making the Right Choice
Deciding on purchasing loose leaf vs tea bags, all comes down to lifestyle choices.
- If you are always on the go, short on time and have limited supplies and equipment, then our tea sachets may be a better fit for you.
- On the other hand, if you enjoy endless pours of hot tea, plan on hosting gatherings and like having multiple steeps from the same tea, organic loose-leaf tea might be your better option.
How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea?
- The amount of loose-leaf tea to water ratio depends on your personal preference. If you like your tea stronger add less water. However, if you like it weaker add more water. We prefer to use unchlorinated filtered fresh water as this gives you the best taste profile. Our perfect measuring spoon delivers the correct amount every time.
- Next, heat your water to the recommended temperatures on our How to Brew Tea Black, green, pu-erh, rooibos, oolong, herbal, and white teas all have a different temperature and steep times.
- Place your loose leaves in our tea infuser or one of our tea pots from our teaware collection.
- Gently pour the heated water over your tea leaves. Add enough water to completely cover the leaves.
- Steep Tea Leaves (approximate times)
- After the tea is done brewing for the recommended time, pour the tea from the tea pot or infuser into your cup.
What is a Gaiwan?
In Asia, a Gaiwan (tiny tea vessel) is used to make many small servings of tea for multiple steeps. The Gaiwan consists of a little saucer, bowl, and lid. After the tea is brewed, it is poured into the miniature pitcher. From there, the tea is poured into little cups that are about half the size of a shot glass. A Gaiwan allows for quick brewing, many steeps, and the ability to enjoy many little cups of tea.
How many times can you steep loose-leaf tea?
One of the main benefits of loose-leaf tea is the ability to re-steep the tea at least more than once. Each type of tea is different when it comes to how many times it can be steeped. In addition, the flavor of the tea changes with each pour making for a remarkably interesting flavor exploration.
For example, your first pour of our Polka Dot Bikini Organic Pu-erh Tea might be strong but the second steep the tea becomes more smooth and mellow. With the third pour, the tea starts to take on a slight sweet citrus earthy essence (our favorite pour). By the 4th pour, you really start to notice dark chocolate and licorice notes and so on.
To extract the full flavor from the tea, the steeping time may need to be increased with each additional steep.
- Pu-erh tea because of its strong earthy flavor and fermentation time can be steeped the longest up to 6 to 8 times.
- Black tea can steep 3 to 4 more times.
- Oolong, green and white teas can generally be steeped 2-3 times
- Herbal teas (tisanes) can be steeped at least twice, sometimes more depending on the herbal blend.
Can you reuse the next day?
Our recommendation is that you use brewed tea within 3 hours of the first steep. When the tea is damp, it has the potential for bacteria to grow at room temperature. It is best not to take any chances.
We know that some people drain all the water out and then place the tea pot in the refrigerator or even dry out the tea. However, we do not suggest doing this. It is better to be safe and drink the tea within a few hours of brewing.
Now comes the fun part – accessorizing!
Our teaware and tea accessories enhance the ritual of preparing, brewing, storing, and serving loose leaf tea. Teaware should not only be beautiful but have a functional design. Whether you are looking for a loose leaf starter kit, tea infuser, tea storage tins or beautiful cast iron tea pots, we have you covered.
No Tea Pot or Infuser - No Problem
If you are new to brewing loose leaf tea, you might not have the traditional equipment for brewing. That is A-OK!
Try these simple ways to make loose leaf tea without a strainer. Place loose leaves directly into a cup along with the heated water and steep. Next, use either a slotted spoon, fork, or mini strainer and pour the brewed tea into a fresh cup.
Tea’s worst enemies are direct sunlight, moisture, and heat. Learning how to store loose leaf tea properly can extend the life of tea. It is relatively simple to do if you follow these simple storage tips.
- Once the Fraser Tea loose-leaf bag is opened, make sure to seal the bag tightly, removing as much air as possible, and store in a cool, dry location that is away from direct sunlight.
- Alternatively, you can store tea in our airtight tea storage tins.
- Avoid storing loose leaf in plastic clear containers that can leave light in and absorb odors.
- Do not store loose leaf tea in the refrigerator as this can cause issues with condensation and moisture. In addition, the tea can pick up the odors of the different foods in your refrigerator. Onions and tea…Ewwww!
Do you prefer loose leaf tea or tea sachets?
Loose Leaf Lover
- Mindful and seeks inner peace with each pour.
- Enjoys the ritual of brewing tea.
- Loves to resteep tea and enjoy the subtle changes in the flavor and aroma with each pour.
- Looks forward to teatime with friends.
- Teaware, cute teapots and accessories bring you joy.
Tea Sachet Lover
- Active and on the go.
- Sporty and prefers to drink tea to hydrate instead of sugary drinks.
- Loves a thermos or mug of tea at work or school.
- Likes to bring tea from home whenever they travel.
- Does not have time for multiple steeps.
- Loves easy cleanup.
Guess what? Whether you choose our organic loose-leaf tea or tea sachets, it’s a brilliant healthy choice. Tea drinking is more than just quenching your thirst. Teatime revitalizes us, warms us up or cools us down and helps reduce stress. Tea keeps up healthy, happy and gives us an excuse to socialize with friends.
Still can’t decide which option is better for you. Try ordering one of each type (loose leaf and tea sachets) and give it a go.
Fraser Tea offers over 100 unique handcrafted blends of tea in BOTH loose and sachet packaging!
Fraser Tea is a family owned and operated “Made in Michigan” business.