Whether it is packaged in tea bags or is loose leaf, all tea comes from the same plant, the camellia sinesis. So why do some people prefer loose leaf tea?
As it turns out, there is a world of difference between the product found in a tea bag, and that found in loose leaf tea.
First of all, loose leaf tea is typically hand-picked, whereas the tea found in tea bags consists of small pieces of tea leaves. The latter results in a quicker and therefore more convenient brew, but not quite as much flavor. Additionally, tea bags may tend to give a harsher taste than loose leaf tea due to the release of additional tannins. Furthermore, because the leaves are broken up, the essential oils and chemicals that give tea its taste may evaporate, leaving the drinker with a poorly flavored cup.
Additionally, tea leaves need space to swell and unfurl. Obviously, this is not possible to any large degree in a cramped tea bag. Good water circulation is also important, and, again, this is much more easily attained by brewing loose leaf tea than in a tea bag.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are more flavor varieties available in loose leaf tea than in bagged tea.
Make your next cup loose leaf, and I promise you won't be disappointed!