Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags: What's the Difference?

Many people are first introduced to tea drinking via teabags. They’re quick, they’re easy, and you can find them in the grocery store! While teabags can be a great way to learn more about tea as a beginner, loose leaf tea is almost always superior in taste. We’ll cover the main differences between loose leaf tea and commercial tea bags, along with the best ways to enjoy your tea.

The difference between loose leaf tea and tea bags

There are a few important differences between loose leaf tea and tea bags, including the quality of the tea leaves, the amount of room tea leaves have to steep, and the variety of teas available.

Tea leaves vs. tea dust: leaf size and quality

Teabags are usually made from tea “dust,” small particles of low-quality tea that are inexpensive and easily available. In contrast, loose leaf tea is made from whole leaves of tea, which are of a much better quality and brew up a cup with a much more nuanced flavor. At ArtfulTea, our loose leaf teas and ingredients are all carefully sourced, resulting in premium teas that don’t sacrifice on flavor, while still being affordable enough for everyday enjoyment.

Depth of flavor

Overall, loose leaf tea tends to be much more flavorful than tea bags. Full leaf teas tend to be complex and nuanced, and even bold, strong teas like breakfast blends have a fuller depth of flavor. In comparison, tea bags can seem bland and one-note. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying tea made from tea bags, if you love tea, chances are you’ll enjoy loose leaf tea even more.

Room to brew

Most teabags are packed tight, allowing little room for the tea to expand and release its flavor as it steeps. Loose leaf teas, when properly prepared, have plenty of room to expand and result in a lovely, flavorful cup. Because they’re made of higher quality tea leaves, loose leaf teas typically take a bit longer to brew, but it’s a pleasure to watch the leaves slowly unfurl!

Preparation methods

One of the main draws of using tea bags over loose leaf tea is that they’re easier to prepare. If you’re making a cup of tea using a tea bag, all you really need is some hot water and a mug or cup. That said, however, it’s pretty easy to make loose leaf tea. In addition to hot water and a mug or cup, you just need something to infuse your tea leaves in. This can take the form of a tea infuser, tea pot, or even a paper tea filter.

Different tea varieties

There are certainly many different varieties of teabags out there, but the options are endless when it comes to loose leaf tea. At Artful Tea, we carry almost a hundred different varieties of tea, and are continually expanding in order to carry even more. While it can be hard to find certain kinds of tea in teabags, ArtfulTea carries a full range of teas, from popular breakfast teas like Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast, to lesser-known teas like Purple Tea and Pu-erh Tea.

Benefits of loose leaf tea vs. tea bags

From boosting your immune system to reducing inflammation to soothing sore throats and everything in between, tea is full of beneficial properties. Because loose leaf tea tends to be of a higher quality, there are often even more concentrated amounts of the benefits present in tea. While tea bags still contain some of the benefits that come with drinking tea, they usually won’t be as potent as loose leaf.

Loose leaf tea vs. tea bags cost

Many people think that loose leaf tea is automatically more expensive than tea bags. While loose leaf tea does tend to cost a little more than the tea bags that you can find in the grocery store, it’s still relatively affordable. For example, a $14 bag of loose leaf tea can make up to 40 cups of tea—that works out to 35 cents a cup! Plus, loose leaf tea is of much better quality than most tea bags. In fact, loose leaf tea is often flavorful enough that you can steep your tea leaves multiple times.

Pros and cons of loose leaf tea

Pros:

  • More flavorful than tea bags

  • More options to choose from

  • Higher concentrations of health benefits

Cons:

  • Can sometimes cost more than tea bags

  • Takes a few more steps to prepare

Pros and cons of tea bags

Pros:

  • Easy to prepare

  • Available in most grocery stores

Cons:

  • Less flavorful

  • Fewer health benefits

  • Limited options

Loose leaf tea for beginners

Interested in trying loose leaf tea but not sure where to start? ArtfulTea offers a variety of sampler packs for those curious about trying loose tea for the first time, or simply experimenting with different flavors. While these teas come carefully prepackaged in handmade teabags, they contain only the highest quality loose leaf tea, making them a great way to transition from store-bought bags. We offer samples in packs of six and packs of twenty.

Whether you’re a tea beginner or a longtime tea drinker, loose leaf teas can be a great way to further develop your love of tea and explore all that teas have to offer. At ArtfulTea, we are proud to sell only the highest quality loose leaf tea!

Tea Samplers and Starter Kits >>>

FAQs about tea bags and loose leaf tea

Is loose leaf tea healthier than tea bags?

Both loose leaf tea and tea bags often contain beneficial properties. Depending on the type of tea you’re drinking, tea can help to soothe stress, ward off colds, help you fall asleep at night, or energize you with a boost of caffeine. That said, loose leaf tea often contains more concentrated amounts of these benefits, since it tends to be of higher quality.

Does loose leaf tea really taste better?

Tea is ultimately a matter of personal preference, and there’s no right or wrong kind of tea to drink. However, when tasted side by side, many people find loose leaf tea to be much more flavorful and nuanced than tea bags. If you drink loose leaf tea regularly, you may even find it difficult to go back to tea bags after you’ve had the “good stuff”!

Is there more caffeine in tea bags or loose leaf tea?

How much caffeine is present in tea depends on a variety of factors, including the type of tea, the leaf size, how long you steep the tea, and the water temperature you use. Because the tea present in tea bags is often made up of finely ground dust and fannings, it can sometimes contain more caffeine than loose leaf tea, especially on a first brew. But certain types of tea, like Irish Breakfast or Assam, are also very high in caffeine.

What’s the difference between a tea bag and a tea sachet?

Some tea brands sell tea sachets rather than tea bags. These sachets are often pyramid-shaped, and contain better quality tea leaves than most types of tea bags. Like tea bags, there’s no need to scoop or measure tea leaves, and the sachet can be placed directly in the cup. Some people prefer the convenience of sachets over loose leaf tea, but overall loose leaf tea tends to be of even higher quality.

Is loose leaf tea better for the environment?

Because loose leaf tea doesn’t involve any extra materials, like tea bags, strings, adhesive, or metal staples, it’s by definition a low-waste way to enjoy tea. Tea leaves are also compostable!

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