Remember the time when plastic-wrapped pre-sliced bread, dehydrated mashed potatoes and instant coffee granules were considered all the rage? It wasn’t that long ago when they were considered the food of the future, and we all embraced them wholeheartedly. Same with tea in little bags with a string and label stapled to them dangling forlornly form the edge of your mug. But the future decided otherwise. Now we know that bread from a bakery, coffee from carefully selected beans and buttery mash from proper potatoes cannot be beaten. It’s time to think the same for the teabags and make a choice. We all know it’s an unsustainable use of a tree to turn it into paper, bleach it, add some glue and some plastic, squeeze in some tea dust, pack it in foil, then cardboard…I could go on. But people are still choosing that box of teabags on the supermarket’s shelf and of course everybody has their reasons for doing so. We’re not judging. We’re not preaching. We just want you to consider the possibility of trying something which is so much better! So here are just 3 reasons why we should all choose pure, loose leaf teas...
1. Loose leaves allow you to make several delicious hot infusions, each one with a different flavour profile (but do make sure you drain the water completely every time so the leaves are not sitting in water and overextracting between infusions). For some teas, like our personal favourites, oolongs, a single teaspoon of leaves gives you at least six cups, each one different and more delicious than the previous one. The old Chinese tea farmers say:
The first infusion is for your enemy
The second infusion is for your servants
The third infusion is for your wife
The fourth infusion is for your mistress
The fifth infusion is for your business partner
The sixth infusion is for yourself
And just when you think you exhausted all flavour, put the same leaves in a jar of cold water and pop in the fridge overnight for a delicious cold brewed tea the next day. And even then, don’t throw them away – your acid-loving plants will love them so spread them around the base of your roses or tomatoes or just put them on your compost heap. You just can’t do that with your teabag, because only loose leaf teas have the chance to infuse properly. Tea leaves need space to unfurl and allow the water to penetrate every surface, and this just cannot be done when they’re squished in a bag, whatever the shape.
2. Loose leaf tea allows you to take a real break. Use beautiful teaware. Pause while you measure the tea and put it into your favourite teapot. Savour the aroma while it infuses. You make it your way . It’s your own miniature tea ceremony.
3. And the most important of all… we know that teabag tea is a commodity, with prices dictated by suited people representing the big brands in auction rooms, not the farmers. And often the price they get at auction is smaller than the cost of production. Just imagine that. So they have to live in dire poverty in order that prices are kept low for our favourite beverage. And this cannot be right.
So see you just cannot compare a mug of industrially produced teabags with a cup made from loose leaves, hand picked and hand crafted with care and skill.
To resume, teabags = functional but soulless, tea leaves = truly wonderful and fair. It really is your choice.