Frequent Question: Do We Sell Tea Balls?

by 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 the water.

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.
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