Why Is Loose Leaf Tea Better than Tea Bags?

It’s convenient, I know. When you’re running out the door to work, school, or errands in the morning, it’s tempting to just throw a tea bag in your thermos and get going. But the convenience tea bags provide comes with a steep drop in quality and flavor. So, let’s get the big question out of the way: Why is loose leaf tea better than tea bags?

Overhead view of a bag of loose leaf tea, a silver tea scoop, and a teacup with a cherrywood tea infuser on a blue and green striped tablecloth. The overlay text reads: Why is loose leaf tea better?

Where Did Tea Bags Come From?

According to tea legend, the invention of the tea bag was a result of a misunderstanding between a tea vendor and his customers. In 1908, New Yorker Thomas Sullivan sent out tea samples in little silk bags, assuming that customers would remove the tea from the bags to brew it.

Instead, many people stuck the bags directly into their tea pots. They enjoyed the novelty and ease of the brew so much, that they wrote back to Sullivan, requesting more tea in the sample satchels.

Why is Loose Leaf Tea Better Quality Than Tea Bags?

While the tea that Thomas Sullivan put in his original tea bags was traditional, whole leaf tea, the quest for convenience in the years since then has led to new methods of tea production.

Generally, the tea you find in the cheap boxes at the grocery store is tea dust, or fannings. Fannings are dust-like particles of tea leaves chopped by machine to speed up the oxidation process that makes black tea black. Essentially, it is the leftover bits from the production of more high quality product.

A silk sachet of tea sits next to a white and blue teapot.

Why is Loose Leaf Tea Better Tasting Than Tea Bags?

You may have heard your “tea connoisseur” friends talk about the superior flavor of loose leaf tea. We’ve even made the claim before that loose leaf tea tastes better.

But you may be wondering, how could there be such a big difference? Why is loose leaf tea better tasting than tea bags? For one thing, the method used to produce the fannings and dust that I described above releases a lot of the essential oils prematurely. So, a lot of the nuances of the tea’s flavor get lost before it even makes it into your cup.

In addition, tea leaves need space to expand so that the water can bring out all the different, dramatic flavor notes that make tea so exciting to drink. That’s why, even when larger, fuller pieces of tea are used in tea bags, they still can’t measure up to the flavors of loose leaf. They just don’t have the space to reach their full potential.

A classic tea bag sits next to a silver scoop full of loose leaf tea on a wooden surface.

How to Start Drinking Loose Leaf Tea

Maybe you’re convinced now: It’s time to give up the tea bags and invest in loose leaf tea. But where do you start? There are so many options out there that it can be a bit overwhelming to pick up a loose leaf habit.

I recommend looking at the teas you already enjoy in bag form and finding similar flavor profiles in loose leaf. Are you an Earl Grey fan? Check out our Mindful Morning Blend for a brighter, fuller Earl Grey experience. Do you like the fresh taste of green teas? Try our subtly fruity Abundance Blend. Do you tend to go for a relaxing, herbal cup? Enjoy the comforting, cozy flavors of our Cuddletime chamomile.

If you don’t know what you like quite yet, but you know that you like tea, our Tea of the Month Club can take away all the hard decision-work by bringing you a new blend every single month! Plus, you also get free shipping in our store, which will make it easier to buy yourself a nice infuser, like the cute Cherrywood Tea Nest you saw in the pictures above.

Whatever your tea style, I hope you find some great, flavorful loose leaf tea, and develop tea time rituals that will make you fall in love with tea all over again.

Overhead view of a white and violet teapot and teacup set on a purple and white tablecloth.

Why Is Loose Leaf Tea Better than Tea Bags?