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How Are Specialty Tea Different From Tea Sold for Masses?

Not all teas are made equally. Teas are available in different forms with a wide price range and methods of consumption. Some teas have more aroma than others, or you might find some teas easier to steep than others. When you go out to the market, you will realize that there are teas packed in tea bags through a porous, small, and sealed packet with a string attached and a label at the end of it, while there are specialty teas that are usually simply packed in a tin, paper can, or foil with a bag of loose tea leaves in it. With this in mind, it is better to find the differences between specialty teas and those tea bags sold to the masses.

Tea leaves are graded differently. The whole leaves and some broken leaves are the ones that are being packaged as specialty teas. Specialty tea is a high-grade, premium loose-leaf tea. These are considered high-quality tea leaves. The whole tea leaf is the type of tea leaf that can be used for multiple infusions and takes the longest time to infuse. The broken tea leaves that are large enough are also considered in making specialty tea because they preserve their high quality. In fact, some broken leaf is better than a few whole leaf teas.

On the other hand, what is being used by those tea bags available in the market are fanning and dust. Fannings are small, broken pieces of leaves. Dusts are those that are left after the tea leaves are processed through a grading machine and are already powdery in texture. They are usually comparable to ceremonial matcha. Fanning and dusting tea leaves are eventually packaged as tea bags.

An obvious difference between a specialty tea and a tea bag being sold off the market is that in a specialty tea pack, the consumer will be the one to control the portion to be steeped in hot water. The consumer can gradually increase the quantity of specialty tea leaves depending on their taste. If you want a strong tea, you can add more leaves. Everybody has some specific preferences, and specialty tea using loose tea leaves will help to get the desired taste. The preparation method is also intricate for specialty teas compared to cheap teas sold to the masses. However, specialty teas require tea balls or strainers to put the loose tea leaves in a pot to be steeped according to the instructions or preference, while tea bags are simply soaked in hot water. Thus, the preparation of tea bags is way easier compared to specialty teas. These are usually on the go, and one would simply need hot water. The tea bags sold for the masses are pretty convenient and easy to steep compared to a specialty tea, and you can simply find these tea bags everywhere. The loosely pyramided premium nonwoven tea bags or sachets are designed to maximize the water flowing in and around the leaves inside the tea bags, and this would already serve as strainers on the go without the need to bring your own. Moreover, the leaves in the tea bags are finer than specialty teas and would prevent the fragments of the leaves from being consumed. If one is bothered by consuming particles of leaves together with the tea, then tea bags would be a better option.

Green Tea

The taste would also be a very important variant between specialty teas and tea bags; thus, another difference between a specialty tea and those sold to the masses is that the loose tea leaves used by specialty teas are free from additives and retain their original flavor. The CEO and founder of the Art of Tea, Steve Schwartz, and the founder of the Bellocq Tea Atelier, Heidi Johannsen Stewart, said that specialty teas using loose tea leaves do not go through processing and preserve their quality. Specialty tea, or loose-leaf tea, is produced for its exceptional qualities. The tea leaves being used in specialty teas are superior to tea bags since specialty teas use loose tea leaves. Since specialty teas use loose tea leaves that are larger, they impart more flavor than the finely cut leaves of a tea bag tea. Also, loose tea leaves contain more essential oils compared to tea bags. All these boost the flavor of specialty teas. On the other hand, the flavorings in tea bags are usually not their original flavors. Since the tea bags are already fanning, or dust particles processed into tiny little pieces, tea manufacturing companies would already add flavorings to the tea bags to boost their flavors. The tea bags lose their aroma because of the several stages of processing they go through before being put inside a tea packet, which is why additives and flavorings are put in them. However, this is usually true for paper tea bags. The tea leaves need to fully expand in order to release their maximum flavor, and the design of the loosely pyramid premium non-woven tea bags is advantageous for the leaves inside them to fully expand and release their flavor, compared to loose tea leaves, for which a consumer still needs to use small strainers such as metal tea balls that are constrained in space and would not allow the loose tea leaves to expand at their maximum. Thus, those tea bags in loosely pyramid packets can easily release their natural flavors and aroma compared to specialty teas steeped through metal tea balls. Also, not all bagged teas lose their flavorings and health benefits. Take, for example, the stone-ground leaves that preserve the intense bitter flavor, the rich green color, the earthy aroma, and the grainy texture of the tea, as well as the benefits of enhancing the level of nutrients and antioxidants.

With all the differences between specialty teas and tea bags sold to the masses, one would have knowledge of what to buy depending on one’s personal preferences. Just because specialty teas are much more expensive than tea bags does not mean that you cannot find high-quality tea bags on the market. High-quality tea bags are in fact easily found as long as you know where to look for them, such as those mentioned above, since not all bagged teas are the same. Also, the same goes for loose-leaf teas that are not made equally in terms of quality. Despite the cheap teas being sold off the market, buying high-quality teas, be they specialty teas or bagged teas, would be a smart move considering the benefits that you would be getting from drinking them. After all, a tea drinker would really want to receive the real benefits of tea.


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