If you went back in time to the turn of the nineteenth century and partook in a tea drinking ceremony, you would notice that there wasn't a teabag in sight. Traditionally tea has always been prepared using loose leaves, however an American invention circa 1903 meant that teabags came onto the scene.
It took the UK almost 50 years to really take to the idea, although in the 1950s a shift in social norms provided the perfect backdrop for the subsequent exponential rise in popularity. Nowadays teabags are commonplace and it's rare that you're served loose leaf tea, however this may soon change.
People are realising the benefits of buying loose leaf tea as opposed to boxes of individually wrapped teabags and are returning to tradition when it comes to preparing the afternoon refreshment. Not only is it cheaper to buy a bag of loose tea leaves, it is also more environmentally friendly. The production and the materials involved with creating each individual teabag will never be as sustainable producing one big bag of tea leaves.
There is a lot of evidence for the fact that tea prepared from loose leaves has a far greater taste and quality. This stands to reason as using the whole leaf of the tea plant will always give you a better flavour than a tea bag and you have more control over the brewing process, so can ensure that certain standards are met.
How to prepare
With the widespread use of teabags, it's not unusual for people to be unfamiliar with how to prepare tea from scratch. Below are three methods for brewing the perfect cuppa.
These are a good option for brewing just the one cup of tea. You simply fill the small spherical strainer with the loose tea leaves of your choice and allow it to dangle into freshly boiled water. Once the tea has steeped for approximately five minutes, depending on strength preference, then you pull the tea infuser from the cup and dispose of the tea leaves in food waste, or use as compost.
If you're using a tea pot, put in a teaspoon of loose tea for each person and one for the pot then pour in freshly boiled (not quite boiling) water and leave to brew for up to five minutes. Hold a tea strainer over the mug when pouring out the liquid to stop the leaves from going in.