Loose Leaf Tea vs Teabags:
1 ounce of Loose Leaf Tea is approximately 12 Teaspoons.
Commercial teabags release all of their tannins and flavor at once.
You can only get one cup (or pot) of tea from teabags, but you can get up to four cups (or pots) from an equal amount of loose tea. Loose tea is also more environmentally friendly.
When you're finished brewing a pot of loose-leaf tea, you can take the spent leaves and dump them on your garden, yard, flower or herb pots, or compost heap. They bio-degrade and help to replenish the soil. Of course, if you don't have a garden, yard or flower pots, you can dump them down the drain, or dispose of them in the trash, where they will also bio-degrade.
Factor in the fact that you're not paying for expensive packaging (it actually costs more than the tea!), and that you can get multiple cups or pots out of loose tea, it turns out that most Loose-Leaf teas are actually cheaper per serving than teabag teas!
All tea has a shelf life — Green, White, Yellow and Flavored or Herbal Teas keep for about 3 to 6 months. Oolongs, Black, Chai & "Red" Teas keep for 6 months to 1 year (some Oolongs - such as Da Hong Pao - can be kept for 3 to 5 years). Pu-Erh Tea is a special case — it is usually aged for several years before being sold, and can be kept for 10 to 30 years or more! Pu-Erh gets better the longer it ages!
All teas require proper storage to prolong freshness and preserve flavor & aroma:
(Brewing instructions included with every tea you order)
Start with good-tasting water. Experiment with different spring waters. Do NOT use boiling water when brewing a White, Yellow, Green or Oolong tea. Boiling water "cooks" the leaves of these teas, destroying their flavor.
Here are some suggested water temperatures and steeping times:
Choose a ceramic teapot, or covered cup, with a twelve to sixteen-ounce capacity for one or two people, use a larger pot for more people. A teapot with a built-in strainer will prevent leaves from entering the spout (and your cup!). If you don't have a teapot with a built-in strainer, you can pour the tea through a small, fine-mesh strainer into your cup. Preheat the teapot with hot water, then discard that water. Place the suggested amount of Tea in the warmed pot, fill with the proper temperature water and steep as directed.
Brew the tea loose or in an infuser Piece, not in a tea ball, to allow the leaves to expand and the flavor to develop fully.
At first — until familiar with a particular tea — steep it for about 1 to 2 minutes LESS than the suggested brewing time, then taste. Pay attention to the taste rather than the color. When the tea tastes right to you, serve or pour off the entire contents to avoid over-steeping. Most loose teas are meant to be infused several times; simply add more hot water when needed, increasing steeping times with subsequent infusions.
Feel free to experiment with brewing time and the proportion of tea to water. If you like your tea strong, use more tea instead of steeping it for a longer time! Don't overlook the beautiful colors and shapes of the leaves while brewing; appearance is very much a part of the experience.
For those of you who like a nice, rich, strong Tea but can't tolerate the caffeine, here's a little trick for reducing the caffeine content of Oolong, Black & Pu-Erh teas: Place the tea in your warmed pot, pour some hot water into it — just enough to cover the leaves — wait 30 ~ 45 seconds, then pour off and discard the water. Refill the pot with hot water and steep as usual. This removes 50% to 70% of the caffeine! Do NOT do this to White, Yellow, Green, Herbal, Decaf or Rooibos Teas — they're already very low in caffeine, or are caffeine-free.
The most important part of brewing teas is consistency. Once you find a method for a particular tea that suits your taste — stick with it! If there is one thing for sure, it is that teas will change flavor when you change the way you brew them.