5 Ways Loose Leaf Teas are Healthier than Tea Bags
Did you know that drinking tea dates back to 2737 BC? It is believed that the brew was discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, who was sitting under a tree with boiled drinking water. Leaves from the Camellia Sinensis tree blew into the water, and the renowned herbalist decided to try the accidental infusion. Since then, it has been adopted as a global beverage.
How did you get into drinking tea? It probably started with the regular cup your mother made, or the comfortable feeling of sitting on the sofa, relaxing with a hot mug after a long day. Like with you, the brew now plays a significant part in most lives around the world.
There is a brew for everyone, designed with different packaging and flavors; whether it’s to pop tea bags into a mug and drink on the run or the classic preparation of loose leaf tea. This drink has been recommended for the management of health issues such as cancer, obesity, etc. However, for maximum health benefits, loose leaves are recommended. This article will give you an insight as to why loose leaf teas are healthier than tea bags.
1. Bags of dust and fannings
Bagged tea contents are mostly dust and fannings from the production of higher quality brews. When the leaves are broken down, they lose their essential oils, aroma, and flavor. Eventually, the quality of tea is lost.
Essential oils have medicinal properties that help in the treatment of various diseases and conditions. They act as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressive stimulant.
Drinking loose leaf tea such as lemon balm or chamomile will give you a refreshing brew rich in aroma and essential oils, improving your overall mood and health.
Other than the caffeine content, all teas have tannins. However, the concentration varies depending on the type, and how long it is steeped during preparation.
Tannins have both positive and negative effects.
Health benefits of tannins
• Anti-carcinogenic: Prevents the formation of cancerous cells
• Anti-mutagenic: Prevents mutation of DNA
• Cardiac health: Improves blood flow, blood clotting and prevents heart diseases
• Anti-oxidizing: Prevents diarrhea, improves metabolism, and ensures smooth digestion
• Anti-bacterial: Acts as an antiseptic, thus stimulating the immune system
• Lowers cholesterol: The catechins help maintain a healthy cholesterol level
Side effects of high concentrations of tannins
• Stained teeth over time
• Excessive consumption of tannins can lead to iron deficiency
• High tannin concentration causes jaw pain since salivary glands are forced to work faster
• Excessive tannin consumption may cause migraines for people with sensitive serotonin levels
• Avoid beverages with tannin up to an hour before eating. This is because tannins bind with minerals, vitamins, and calcium, preventing their absorption by the gut
• If you have a sensitive digestive system, ingestion of brews with high tannin levels may cause nausea
Loose tea leaves have a moderate concentration of tannins, giving you the right amount for health benefits. On the contrary, bagged leaves produce a bitter or astringent brew due to high tannin concentration in the dust-like particles.
Note: Tannin concentration can be moderated by steeping your brew for 4-5 mins, and if you must take bagged tea, do not squeeze it.
3. Plastic bags
Some premium tea brands package their bags using food graded plastic or nylon, while some use just a small amount of plastic to seal the bags shut. However, when heated or dipped in boiling water, these bags shed micro-plastic particles that are not visible to the naked eye. You could be leeching chemical toxins from the plastic mesh bags into your mug. As a result, the more tea you drink, the more toxins you ingest.
Consumers are encouraged to choose loose leaves since preparation involves putting only the actual leaves in a pot and boiling. However, if you can’t find loose leaves, it is advisable to visit a health-savvy online tea and coffee shop to ensure you purchase tea bags packaged with biodegradable material.
4. Fiber or paper bags
To minimize the use of plastic, brands have adopted paper fiber packaging. However, this doesn’t entirely solve the situation. First, the paper is treated and bleached with epichlorohydrin, a chlorinated epoxy compound. This industrial solvent is a potent skin irritant with carcinogens that directly cause cancer.
Also, some fiber bags are sealed with a water-resistant resin that contains a carcinogenic chemical that is linked to suppressed immune function and infertility.
5. Gluten bags
The paste used to seal the bags and strings may be manufactured from ingredients containing gluten, a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye. Some brands go to the extent of using barley malt to sweeten the brew. If you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, you need to be very alert. The slightest amount of gluten ingested could unleash symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, fatigue, bloating, and other health complications.
Loose leaves are not only safer, but they also yield better quality tea for a gluten-free diet.
For quality tea full of flavor, the leaves need room to expand, not enclosed in a bag. To speed up the steeping time, one usually ends up squeezing, dunking, and swirling the bag in the cup. This is even considered poor etiquette.
Tea wasn’t meant to be rushed. Instead, use wholesome ingredients and let your leaves unfurl to their full potential. The brew will be worth the wait.
The fancy triangular silk bags you see on the shelves may not be the right choice for your health. Loose tea leaves serve a better purpose. Select wisely and stay healthy!