Why Is Loose Leaf Tea Such a Hit?

More and more people are searching out an alternative to traditional teabags, which come easily packaged and found on any grocery shelf. Although it might seem like a straightforward process, there are many different methods of steeping tea and some are becoming more popular because they’re more ecologically sustainable, the brand reflects consumers’ values, or they just plain taste better.

Loose leaf tea is making serious waves in the tea-drinking community as more and more people discover a new method of brewing their favorite drink.

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What is loose leaf tea?

Unlike most commercial teas, loose leaf tea isn’t brewed in a bag. Rather, brewers take a different approach by steeping the leaves freely in hot water, rather than putting them inside of a bag where oftentimes the leaves are shredded, crumbled and even dusty. Of course not all teabags are like this, just as loose leaf tea isn’t uniformly superior, but the quality difference is a noticeable trend with these brewing methods which has caused many enthusiasts to prefer the loose leaf method.

When these whole or partially cut leaves steep freely, they have more room to absorb the water which flows through the leaves to extract more vitamins, minerals, flavors and aromas as the tea infuses and expands. Because of this, it’s often considered a higher quality tea by enthusiasts—which contributes to why it’s a little bit more expensive than name brand teabags you can find at the store.

Can all of this really account for why it’s such a big trend, though?

Why do people love it?

Flavor and taste are always subjective, so there has to be a bigger reason why so many people are suddenly eager to buy loose leaf tea. For some, they could simply be eager to support small businesses and individual creators who work hard on superior products, as opposed to mega-corporations and faceless workers making factories’ worth of identical product. Each loose leaf tea brand is uniquely delicious.

Loose leaf brewing is also more environmentally sound and healthier for the drinker than typical teabags. The method produces less trash, and although teabags only use a very minimal amount of plastic, it all adds up in mass production. Loose leaf teas have no plastic, and regardless, most consumers prefer not having any plastic steeping in their boiling hot cup of water.

Loose leaf brewing does take a little longer than teabags and requires more focus to prepare, but the final product has fuller flavor, stays fresh longer and has more variety to choose from. It also turns out less bitter and drinkers can steep the tea more than once to get maximum possible use out of the leaves.

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3 loose-leaf tea brands to support this year

If you’re a fan of loose leaf tea, then you probably understand the value of investing your time, energy, support, and of course money into small businesses. They work hard to get superior tea to their supporters despite the stranglehold that bigger companies have on the market.

If you’re looking for less commercialized, loose leaf tea then you should check out these three small brands that are working extra hard to brew the most incredible tea possible for their loyal customers.

1. Perfect Week

Angel Vicente launched her tea brand in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating not only her commitment to this company but also how good her teas must be to stand firm in a struggling market amidst changing consumer priorities. She launched her brand while the world is still in flux.

She makes all her teas locally in Marikina, a city in the Phillippines. She runs the business by herself including printing and labeling each pouch, creating marketing collateral, handling sales, and managing to ship too. She handles all this work by relying on her supply network of trusted vendors who keep the production chain moving smoothly. She only outsources when she needs help preparing a large batch, but mostly considers the entire business a labor of love from within herself.

Despite launching the brand in the middle of a global pandemic, Vicente was happy to sell out the initial stock, 100 pouches of tea, in their first week. She hopes the prosperity continues because of the hard work that goes into every batch—and the delicious final product that comes out when she’s done brewing.

2. Rishi

Independently owned since 1997, this tea brand is as environmentally friendly as it gets. They have an organic certification from USDA’s Natural Organic Program that they received in late 2002 and have proudly held onto it ever since.

Why is drinking organic so important? By eliminating the use of “agrochemicals” like pesticides and fertilizers, they brew a healthier tea that’s not only good for the drinker (because they’re putting fewer chemicals into their bodies) but it’s better for the environment, too. In part, Rishi does this by importing directly from the source, making connections with growers in ecologically sustainable gardens, and contacting remote suppliers to ensure the best quality product available. Direct trading is sustainable, forms better relationships between sellers and brewers, and helps for the best possible loose leaf tea they can make together.

Tea drinkers: If you care about the future of Earth’s many ecosystems, try a naturally sourced tea brand like Rishi.

3. Flower Girl Apothecarie

This loose leaf tea brand was recently featured at Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Virtual Vendor Fair Celebrating Black Artisans, Makers and Business Owners, a vendor fair that usually happens in Waco, TX on years when a global pandemic doesn’t threaten large in-person gatherings.

Based in San Antonio, TX, Arianna Stenson debuted her brand in 2018 and has spent the years since selling her teas locally. Like most small businesses, COVID-19 has affected how she sells, but Stenson didn’t let the pandemic stop her from selling: Instead she learned how to move her business online, providing a virtual experience for the loyal following she’s amassed over the years.

You can still buy blends or a sampler pack from Flower Girl Apothecarie’s online store. Stenson is also in the process of launching virtual guided tastings to expand the brand’s digital market. As discussions and protests surrounding systemic racism continue to dominate cities around the world, consider supporting black-owned businesses such as Flower Girl Apothecarie.

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Brands like the ones mentioned above, as well as many other small businesses around the world, are helping bring delicious loose leaf tea to a wider audience. Every vendor is different; you should explore different teas to find the independent seller that best suits your pallet, or fight for a cause that matters by finding one that supports an agenda or organization that aligns with your goals. Whether you’re looking for ecologically sustainable tea, organic leaves, or someone supporting civil action in your community, there’s a loose leaf tea brand out there that aligns with your goals and makes incredible flavors perfectly suited for your individual pallet.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to tea. Loose leaf tea is the latest trend upending commercialized teabags with increased flavor, better quality, and environmentally-friendly sourcing that comes together to enhance any tea drinking experience.

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