on Sunday, May 26, 2013 11:00:00 AM
Every day at our store we get one or two customers who stop in and
ask us "Do you sell tea balls or loose leaf tea bags here?", which sets
in motion a long winded explanation of why we do not carry them. To be
honest, we could carry them and probably sell quite a few of them, but
we would be missing an opportunity to explain why they are not (in our
humble opinion) the best tool for brewing high quality tea and why we
are not passionate about them.
We don't carry tea balls or loose
leaf tea bags because tea leaves love space! They like to expand and
take up as much space as possible (see the picture at the bottom with
our Sitka Tea Maker). This process allows the water to flow more evenly
around the entire surface on the tea leaf and subsequently improves the
flavor and consistency of your brew. This is the reason most teabags
have finely chopped tea leaves. If you place whole leaf teas in a small
teabag, it will take a long time to steep and the flavor will not taste
very good. So tea companies chop up the leaves to increase the surface
area in contact with the water. This decreases the steeping time
required to brew the tea, but it also accelerates how quickly the tea
loses flavor and how quickly tannins (the bitter part) are released into
If you have a tea ball, try an experiment. Keeping
everything constant (water temperature, amount of tea, amount of water,
steep time, etc), try to brew one cup of tea with a tea ball or loose
leaf teabag and another in a tea pot or cup with a large filter. Taste
and see which one you think tastes better and have another tea lover do
the same! Most likely you will be able to taste a noticeable difference
between the two directly correlated with how much space you give the
leaves to expand.
Comment on this post with any followup questions, and come visit our retail store or website (www.shangtea.com), to see the teaware that we recommend.
- Tea leaves love to expand! Look at the tea leaves covering the entire bottom of one of our sitka tea pots.