You have the power to buy better tea

by mpieracci

Tea bags are designed entirely for convenience, but they actually taste really bad. On the flip side, buying loose leaf tea can seem overwhelming, expensive, and complicated,

You have the power to buy better tea. The points below will get you started. If your interest picks up your natural curiosity will take you forward to a whole new world.

Better tea bags exist

Mighty Leaf and Numi fill their bags with real tea leaves of good quality. This is the easiest way to enhance your experience to give you an honest flavor while still maintaining maximum convenience.

The Mighty Leaf tea bag. Leaves inside, not dust.

The Mighty Leaf tea bag. Leaves, not dust.

Buying loose leaf in a local grocery store

Grocery stores that have a large bulk foods section, such as Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, sell a nice variety of loose teas at great prices. Some Whole Foods locations have bulk tea too. Buying bulk lets you see and smell the leaves. For a few dollars you can buy only a small amount to try. If you end up disliking it you’ll feel better knowing you only bought a small amount.

Chamomile comparison

Left: amount of dust you get with a box of 20 Twinings Chamomile tea bags. Right: amount of whole Chamomile flowers from a bulk bin for the same price. Much greater quality and quantity.

Buying sample packs online

Many online tea retailers sell sample packs. Everything from these two sources is excellent quality. Don’t dwell too much on the details, just pick something that sounds interesting:

But what about brewing the tea?

There are many ways to brew loose leaf tea that involve different methods and vessels. Forget about that for the moment and know this:

The easiest and most forgotten ways to brew tea is to put about a teaspoon of loose leaves in a glass and fill it with water.

The tea will taste much better. You’ll get to see leaves open up and dance around. Drink, and refill. The leaves will eventually settle to the bottom.

Worried about it becoming bitter? Use less tea.

You can make your own tea bags too. Many shops with a bulk section will sell packets of blank tea bags. Make your own for on-the-go too.

Jasmine green tea leaves opening up in a glass.

Jasmine green tea leaves opening up in a glass.

Chamomile comparison

Left: Twinings Chamomile dust in a bag produces a dark yellow brew that smells bad. Right: Loose Chamomile works best in a tea bag to keep the tiny bits of the flowers together. Here the brew is a clear yellow with an authentic aroma and flavor.

Water temperature?

Start with this basic rule: For black and herbals use boiling water. Anything else, let the water boil and cool for a few minutes.

I hope this opens up some tea opportunities for you. Enjoy and keep experimenting!

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