Tea Bag VS Loose-Leaf Tea

Tea Bag VS Loose-Leaf Tea

Sipping on the age-old debate: Loose leaf tea or tea bags?

Both are popular ways to enjoy a cup of tea, but did you know that they are produced quite differently and this has a major impact on its health properties, the environment and more? 


Here are the main differences and reasons why I choose loose leaf

1. Quality

Most tea bags usually contain lower grades of tea, more finely broken leaf fannings or dust; the tiny bits of tea left over from the production of loose-leaf tea. The highest grades of tea, and most single-origin teas, are rarely available in tea bags as they are sold as whole loose-leaf tea.

2. Freshness

As loose-leaf tea often contains unbroken leaves, the freshness and flavour remains arguably more optimal. Mass-produced tea bags are generally filled with tea leaves from different locations, and have usually travelled great distances before they’ve reached supermarket shelves, making them less fresh.

Many varieties of loose leaf tea offer the experience of differentiation in taste and aroma between types of leaves and locations whereas tea bags have been blended for standardization and one-dimensional taste (bold and astringent).

3. Flavour

Loose-leaf tea is more flavorful as there is room between the tea leaves and the water, which allows for greater infusion of tea flavors and aromas. Tea in a tea bag is confined to a smaller space and cannot move as freely, often resulting in a more bitter yet reduced flavor profile.

4. Traceability

Beyond black and green tea, there are other types of loose-leaf teas such as oolong, white tea, yellow tea, and fermented tea which are diverse, and each reflects its cultivar, climate, geography, and production. One of my favourite teas come from Taiwan and its flavour represents the terroir where it is grown.

5. Environment

Most tea bags are not compostable, and those that are, very few people make the effort to compost. Loose leaf tea reduces the amount of packaging you are using and can be directly thrown into the compost.

Mass produced tea employs vast quantities of pesticides & chemicals that are harmful for the environment & consumers.

6. Health

Tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can contribute to your overall wellness. The primary chemicals responsible for the health claims of green tea, called catechins, are found in the highest concentrations in fresh leaves.

Once exposed to the ambient environment, catechins degrade rapidly.  The highly processed nature of ‘dust and fannings’ in tea bags degrade faster due to the higher surface area for exposure. It’s best to drink green tea as fresh as possible, as loose-leaf tea, to enjoy the potential health benefits of these phytochemicals.


In case you’re not convinced to step into loose leaf teas, here are some Tea Bag Facts that might help:

  • Conventional tea bags often contain fannings or dust, which are small particles of tea leaf, usually considered low-quality tea.
  • The extra fine shredding also means that the antioxidants and vitamins in the tea are lost quickly since they are exposed to the air, accelerating an undesired oxidation process.
  • If you are drinking tea for the antioxidants & other health benefits, you’re not getting much from a conventional teabag.
  • Many major commercial tea companies use non-biodegradable sealants like plastics and other synthetic materials that are not safe when in contact with hot water, as they can release various toxic chemicals that may end up in your cup.
  • Mass produced tea employs vast quantities of pesticides & chemicals that are harmful for the environment & consumers.
  • Green and black teas become bitter much faster due to the quick release of tannins in the leaves.
  • Most teabags are bleached with chemicals that are known to cause or contribute to disease.
  • Nylon teabags are not compostable and their production has negative impacts on the environment as they generate significant amounts of greenhouse gases that deplete the ozone.
  • When buying loose tea, you pay primarily for the quality of the tea. When buying tea bags, you pay for an industrial process that prioritizes quantity (profit) over quality.


Although microplastics are unfortunately being found everywhere on Earth, there are some simple ways to avoid ingesting them (at least in your cup of tea). Here are a few things you can do starting today:

✔️ Avoid conventional tea in teabags and switch to loose leaf tea.

✔️ Avoid using plastic steepers and opt for stainless steel, glass or ceramic.

✔️ If you’re getting a hot drink to-go, provide your own thermos or mug.

✔️ Avoid plastic-lined paper cups altogether and get a reusable glass or stainless-steel bottle.

✔️ If you are going to purchase tea bags because of their convenience, it is best to buy pyramid tea bags made of paper or cotton, as they are fully biodegradable plus the pyramid-shape enables the tea leaf to expand and release its goodness.


Although tea bags are often presumed to contain low quality tea, it is hard to generalize, as there are always many exceptions to patterns of quality. Know what you drink and drink what you like.

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