Beginner's Guide to Loose Leaf Tea
The Beginner’s Guide to Loose Leaf Tea
If you’re new to loose leaf tea, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’re switching to tea from coffee, or maybe you got some loose leaf tea as a gift and are wondering about the next steps. It doesn’t matter why you’re exploring the world of loose leaf tea — there are a ton of health and taste benefits for everyone. So ditch your teabags and dive into the world of loose leaf tea with our beginner’s guide!
Why Choose Loose Leaf Tea?
Many people drink the tea that’s available in grocery and convenience stores without knowing that these teabags are manufactured in large batches. The teabags can sit on store shelves for months at a time, growing stale and losing flavor in the process.
With loose leaf tea, the tea is out of the bag. This means you can make sure you’re getting fresh tea that tastes great. This is one of the main reasons people choose loose leaf tea. However, loose leaf tea is also made with the best ingredients — bagged teas often include stems and seeds that can make the tea taste bitter. When you buy loose leaf tea, you can avoid these low quality ingredients and ensure you have only the finest quality leaves and other ingredients.
You can also save money when buying loose leaf, which is equally as important as tasting great. While it may cost more initially, loose leaf tea allows you to re-steep the tea several times. You don’t have to worry about sacrificing money for quality.
And as if those weren’t reasons enough to switch to loose leaf tea, the environmental benefits are the cherry on top. With loose leaf tea, you can get rid of the extra packaging associated with teabags and it’s an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Less waste and more flavor, what could be better?
Types of Loose Tea
Now that you know the benefits, you may be wondering how to choose between the types of loose tea. Black, green, herbal and oolong all have their differences that make them difficult to navigate. And different types of tea not only have unique flavors and tastes, but they also have different health benefits.
Think of this as your guide to buying loose leaf tea – a quick overview of some of the major tea varieties to get you started:
You might choose a black loose leaf tea when you’re looking for a little caffeinated pick-me-up in the morning. Choose something like the First Period Wake Up or Good Day Sunshine to get your day started off right. It’s a great alternative to coffee in the AM.Black Tea offers more than caffeine, though. Tea also contains an amino acid called Theanine which promotes a sense of calm. The caffeine and theanine work together to give you a lift and keep you alert. You do not get the jitters or the crash and burn effect of other caffeinated beverages.
Green Tea is one of the most popular types of tea worldwide, in large part due to its popularity in Asia. There’s a range of flavor and color in green teas — whether it’s Chinese green tea which is yellowish in color and has a toasted taste, or Japanese green tea that has a darker green color and a more grassy taste.
Green tea tastes great when paired with fruit flavors and spices. If you’re looking for something sweet, you can try Healthy Passion or Apricot Goodness for a refreshing fruity flavor. And the benefits of green tea go beyond just enjoying the taste of a cup. Green tea can aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism, and its antioxidants can help prevent certain types of cancer. So get drinking!
White tea is one of the lightest and most subtle of all tea varieties. It has very little caffeine and doesn’t have the strong flavors you may associate with black and green teas. If the idea of a more subtle flavor appeals to you, try brewing a cup of our Downy Pearls. It offers a light and refreshing taste at any time of the day and is delicious iced.
Oolong is a Chinese variety of tea. Similar to green tea, oolong has a full-bodied and sweet flavor. Oolong also features antioxidants that aid in weight loss, improve mental clarity, and reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. A tea like Rosy Rhubarb not only tastes great, but it’s also an all-natural pick-me-up.
If you’re looking for a sweet alternative, try a rooibos tea originating in South Africa. Unlike other types of tea, rooibos is completely caffeine-free — it’s made from the red bush plant instead of the Camellia sinensis plant like other teas. If you’re looking for a hot alternative to juice or another sweet beverage, rooibos might be the best fit for you. Try a cup of rooibos as an afternoon treat or with dessert.
Chai teas are popular in India and are dark and full of flavor. In addition to tea leaves, chai tea also includes other aromatic herbs and spices, such as cardamom and cloves that lead to a spicy full-bodied tea experience. A chai tea typically comes in the form of a caffeinated black tea blend. So if you’re looking for something that will give you an energy kick, try brewing a cup of Christmas Cup.
If you’re looking for varieties without caffeine, chai tea has several options. There are also rooibos alternatives, such as Sweet & Spicy, that will give you the strong, spicy flavor of a chai tea but won’t keep you up at night. What makes chai tea so great is its versatility for different tea drinkers at different times of the day.
Like rooibos tea, herbal teas are not made from tea leaves. Instead, they’re made from dried fruits, herbs, and flowers. There’s a large range of herbal tea flavors, including mint, fruit, and cinnamon. Each flavor has unique health benefits.
A chamomile or mint tea can be very soothing during times of stress. TryHerbal Teas like Calm Alert or Tranquilitea, made with peppermint and chamomile to soothe your senses. You’ll be feeling more relaxed in no time. Fighting off a cold? Peppermint herbal teas can help with that, too. Peppermint can help clear the sinuses and work as a nasal decongestant, while soothing the throat at the same time. It can also help decrease stomach bloating and gas. Brew a cup of Serenitea and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
How to Brew Loose Tea
Once you’re familiar with each type of loose leaf tea, you’re ready to learn how to brew loose tea. While it may seem more complicated than brewing bagged tea, remember that you only have to plop the store-bought teabag into some hot water to brew it. But guess what? It’s just as easy to brew loose leaf tea! Here’s an easy guide to brewing loose leaf tea:
- Start by boiling some water. You can do this on a stove top or electric kettle. These options provide the best results since they allow for proper aeration and heat the water to the perfect temperature. If you’re really pressed for time, you can use the microwave, however, this should be used as a last resort as it will alter the taste of tea since a microwave does not provide the same aeration.
- While your water is boiling, put your tea of choice in a tea infuser. Don’t worry – you don’t need a lot of equipment. There are some simple options to choose from. A great alternative to the traditional teabag are T-Sacs. T-Sacs work like a store-bought tea bag, but they’re an all-natural, chlorine-free, biodegradable alternative. Just put the loose tea in the sack and it functions like a tea bag.Another tea infuser option is a . These infusers work seamlessly with any coffee or tea mug you already own. Put the tea in the infuser, put it in the mug, and you’re ready to go! If you’re making tea for two, or want several cups, some teapots come with built-in infusers. The Timolino Gravity Pot allows you to watch the Tea Leaves unfurl all of their goodness and then releases the Tea liquor directly into your cup.
No matter what infuser method you have chosen, it’s a great way to brew loose tea for beginners and experts alike. And no matter the method, the next steps are the same. You have water, tea, a tea strainer, and a mug — pour the water over the leaves and wait.
How long do you have to wait? Black and oolong tea generally takes about 3-5 minutes to brew. Herbal and rooibos teas need about 5-7 minutes. Green and white teas don’t take as long – only 2 minutes or so. Once your tea is finished brewing, remove the tea infuser from the water, pour, and enjoy!
If you’re trying to brew green tea, in particular, and find that it tastes bitter or too strong, don’t give up on them. You may still like green tea! There are some simple mistakes you might be making when brewing green tea.
For instance, green teas do better when brewed with cooler water. If you’re brewing a green tea, pour the water after it reaches a pre-boil. But if you let it boil fully, let the water cool off a bit before you pour the water over your tea leaves. The water should be approximately 170 degrees Fahrenheit for a perfect cup of green tea and to prevent that bitter taste.
You may also be brewing too long. Because green tea only takes approximately 2 minutes to brew, don’t let your infuser sit in the water too long. Remove it after two minutes and you’ll have a delicious cup of green tea.
How Many Loose Leaves per Cup?
There’s no need to overthink how much tea to put into your infuser. The methodology is simple: more tea leaves will make a stronger tea. But if you’re looking for a basic framework for your first time brewing, try one teaspoon of tea per cup. This is a general estimate no matter what variety of tea you’re brewing.
Quality teas like the ones sold at Beleave Teas can also be re-steeped more than once. If you finish your cup, simply pour more water over your infuser, wait, and soon you’ll have a second cup or pot ready to go.
Our handy brewing chart (shown below) is on all of our packaging so you can make the perfect cup every time.
What Do I Add to My Tea?
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to adding sweeteners or milk to your tea. Just like coffee, you can drink your tea without anything added. But if you like milk or sugar in your tea, there’s no reason to be a puritan — experiment with the additions you like best.
As far as sweeteners go, there’s always basic white table sugar. You can also sweeten your tea with honey or agave nectar. Milk or cream can also be great additives to black and chai teas but will curdle in teas that have citrus or certain fruits in it. Add your milk along with your sweetener after you remove your tea strainer. There’s no right or wrong amount to add — just stir, taste, and enjoy!
How Do I Store Loose Leaf Tea?
A major problem with store-bought tea is that it’s often stale from the get-go. So how do you prevent your fresh loose leaf tea from going stale, too? Keep your tea in a tightly sealed container, such as a Tupperware or tin container. Something opaque is best, because sunlight can damage leaves over time. Make sure you avoid glass containers and direct sunlight when storing your tea.
Keeping your tea in a dark, cool place — such as on a bookshelf or in your cupboards — will also help it last longer and stay fresh. With that being said, tea can absorb the aroma of nearby products, so keep your tea separate from pungent spices and other ingredients.
Lastly, it’s important to stay organized. You’ll want to know what you’re drinking, so label your teas. That way you can drink exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s a light and fruity white tea, or a full-bodied and caffeinated black tea. You’ll be ready to brew a perfect cup for any occasion!
If you’re ready to begin your loose leaf tea journey, get ready to enjoy the variety of flavors and amazing health benefits. If you’re unsure about where to start with all the different tea types, try a Sampler Set from Beleave Teas. You’ll get to try six different loose leaf teas and get an idea of what you like best — it’s the perfect set of beginner loose leaf teas. Once you’ve sampled them all, you can start exploring each type of tea you like best.
There’s a world of delicious teas out there, and it’s easy to brew and enjoy at peak levels of freshness. Browse the list of teas and products at Beleave Teas to get started.