Bagged or Loose? Decisions, decisions…

Hi friends! Did you know many people don’t know the actual difference between bagged tea and loose leaf tea? Do you know? I mean it is all tea right? What’s the big deal? However, on the contrary there is a big difference regardless if people know about it or not.

In the bag—

Today in the US 95% of all tea sales are sold in little bags. You know why? Because it’s cheap and convenient. Although, all you really get is water that is slightly brown and has little to no flavor—ew. Do you remember Lu Yu from my brief history of tea? Well he has the earliest teachings (written down) spelling out the loose leaf brewing process. I’m pretty sure that he did not say anything like, 1: Open package 2: Take out bag of tea 3: Put in hot water 4: Steep for 3-5 minutes 5: Drink.

The first guy to introduce bagged tea was Thomas Sullivan. When I was reading up on this, I keep reading Sully in my head so that’s what I am going to refer to him as in this post. So Sully was from NYC in the late 1800s and early 1900s employed as a tea and coffee merchant. Lucky him. Back then, most people would buy their tea in little tins that were pretty costly for that time. In order to save himself some cash money, Sully decided he was going to put the tea in small sacks which were much more cost efficient. When he shipped the tea out, the intelligent people of the US didn’t know what to do, so they threw the whole sack in the hot water. Stupidity can equal brilliance. Pretty soon Sully’s tea sacks (tea bags) were all the rage and his made it big. The tea bag became popular throughout the US in 1904 and also started to globalize internationally.

So, yay for ease, and convenience, but for us tea lovers, where’s the flavor at?! In order to get all the flavor out of the leaves, they need to be able to stretch out their leaf legs. In order to make a flavorful cup of bagged tea, smaller leaves are put in the bag. Smaller leaves = less room needed to stretch. So basically all bagged tea contains the little leaves at the bottom of the bag (ex: the Keystone of Coors). Recent developments within the bagged tea industry introduced bigger nylon bags that allow bigger leaves to be in them which enhance the quality of your otherwise amazing cup of tea.

Loosey Goosey—

Now that 95% of tea consumed in the US is in little bags, people just don’t know about the secret garden of loose leaf tea. Please know that there is life outside the bag! I personally have an awesome loose leave brewer called ingenuiTEA which I purchased online from Adagio Teas. My tea world literally has not been the same since. This device allows you to put the loose leave tea in the container, pour in the hot water, brew, and then place on top of your mug and it dispenses the tea full of amazingly super awesome goodness with copious amount of flavor. I 105% recommend this to anyone who wants to dive into loose leaf teas, especially beginners.


ingenuiTEA from Adagio Teas

I want to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day regardless if you choose to celebrate it or not! Also a huge thank you and love you to my mom Anne for my Valentine’s Day present! It’s the best tea kettle ever! I also have a wonderful roommate who happened to be my Valentine today.

Room mate Valentine's love

Tea Kettle from my mom


About katherinemcgrath

I am a senior marketing student at Champlain College. I am a tea enthusiast and cannot wait to share my knowledge about tea and learn from others as well.
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