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Loose Leaf Tea vs. Conventional Teabags

Loose Leaf tea versus Traditional Tea Bags Burman Coffee

Teabags have been around since the early 1900s. They were initially invented to offer a convenient way to brew a single cup of tea. Using teabags would allow tea drinkers to avoid the perceived mess of loose leaf teas, and were a convenient way to completely remove tea leaves from the water all at once. This prevented tea leaves from being steeped too long and made it easier to clean the teapot in which the brewing occurred. 

It wasn’t until the 1950s that teabags gained significant popularity; this was the first decade in which convenience products were in high demand. With increased demand, companies began looking for the most economical way to mass-produce single-serving teabags. Nowadays, they are machine produced in large quantities, packaged, and stored in warehouses for longer periods of time. 

Size of Tea Leaf Pieces

Many conventional teabags contain leftovers of dust and “fannings” of picked tea leaves. Fannings are very small pieces that remain after whole and larger pieces of broken tea leaves are sorted. Fannings are used almost exclusively in teabags.

When steeped, broken pieces of tea leaves, relative to whole ones, have already lost at least some of their aroma and essential oils. Fannings have larger surface areas, causing the essential oils to evaporate more quickly than full-size tea leaves. This results in dull or stale teas. The primary benefit of steeping fannings and dust is the convenience of infusing more rapidly. This is beneficial for tea drinkers in a rush. However, it is worth noting that traditional tea preparations put a high priority on not rushing; for example, the careful and quiet preparation of matcha in the famous Japanese “tea ceremony” is centered around a very slow, calming and peaceful process.

When steeped, smaller pieces tend to be more bitter than full leaf teas as more tannins are infused. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that are found in many plants, especially leaves and unripe fruits. When balanced with other flavors, tannins may contribute to a pleasant taste, but too much will make a tea virtually undrinkable (if you have ever grimaced at the taste of an over-steeped black tea, you know about tannins). 

There are also broken leaf teas at higher grades than fannings. These are labeled “Broken” and are typically not included in conventional teabags. Many “Broken” tea leaves are still very high quality even if they are several steps down from truly whole leaves. It is also worth noting that fannings and dust of high-grade teas can be more flavorful than the whole leaf versions of cheaper teas.

Differences in Caffeine Levels

The larger surface area of the broken tea leaves found in bagged tea results in higher levels of caffeine extraction during steeping. This extraction occurs more quickly than in full-leaf or higher grade teas.

However, there are many factors affecting caffeine levels besides size. These include the variety, whether tips (buds) or stems are used from the plant, and the steeping method. All natural teas, including white, green, and black teas contain caffeine. Rooibos and other herbal infusions are naturally decaffeinated. Teas made with tips/buds (newer leaves) tend to have higher caffeine levels than those made with older leaves or the stem. In addition, tea leaves that have been brewed with hotter water for a longer period of time will produce a more caffeinated cup of tea than those that are steeped with cooler water for a shorter period of time. Considering all the factors affecting caffeine content in teas, it would be inaccurate to make the generalization that conventional teabags produce more caffeine relative to loose leaf teas.

Taste

Teabags purchased from a grocery store will likely have the same flavor profile year to year as they are mass-produced and standardized. Companies producing these bagged teas prioritize cost and consistency. On the other hand, loose leaf teas are processed based on region, and the yearly or seasonal differences due to changes in climate and growing conditions are embraced. These differences may be reflected in the taste and aroma. As a result, loose leaf teas offer a wider range of flavor profiles compared to the dull standardized flavors of teabags found in grocery stores. 

Differences in taste between loose leaf and bagged teas are particularly noticeable with green and white teas. Bagged green and white teas tend to be stale and bitter compared to loose leaf versions. Bagged black tea is thought to produce a decent cup. However, it does not offer the flavor varieties present with loose leaf versions.

It is also worthwhile to note that bagged teas often lose flavor after one steeping while loose leaf teas can be steeped several times to brew flavorful tea.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of tea vary across types. Green, white, and black teas are found to be high in antioxidants, while green and white teas also include catechins and theanine. These compounds provide an array of health benefits. It is thought that bagged tea, with its fannings and dust, provide a much lower level of health benefits. This is due to the essential oils already being lost when the tea leaves were broken into small pieces. In addition, with the mass production of teabags, it is likely they contain highly processed and older tea. Over time, tea loses the potency of health benefits. It is also believed the bag itself filters out some of the vitamins during the steeping process.

Teabag Varieties

The teabag itself contributes to the quality and taste of the brewed tea. Because full leaves will offer more flavor and antioxidants, the size and material of the teabag matter. Conventional teabags are made with paper material that constricts the flow of water. It also prevents tea leaves from expanding to maximize flavor. Often this paper is bleached and can add unwanted chemicals and flavors to the cup.

Open weave sachets address some of the issues with water flow, allowing fuller flavor extraction from the tea leaves. These higher-quality, larger teabags come in pouches, “socks”, and pyramid shapes that can hold full leaf tea or larger broken leaves.

Despite the improvements in teabag types, there is no match to the flavor and aroma produced when steeping loose leaf tea. This can be done directly in the water or using an infuser. Without the restriction of a bag, the extraction of flavors, vitamins, minerals, and aromas from the leaves is maximized. Steeping tea this way gives the larger tea leaf pieces the opportunity to fully expand in the hot water, more so than when any type of teabag is used.

Teabags can be more economical and can offer more convenient steeping and cleanup. However, nothing beats the flavors, aroma, and health benefits enjoyed from steeping loose leaf teas directly in the water. Take the time to try a loose leaf tea that matches your flavor preferences – you won’t be disappointed. Read about the premium selection of freshly sourced teas we offer. If you need help, contact us and we can help you make your final selection. 

Once your premium tea has been delivered, be sure to visit our site to learn how to steep the perfect cup of tea.

8 Gifts for Coffee Lovers

Gifts for Coffee Lovers

As the holiday season approaches, it’s likely your to-do list is already quite long. Shopping for gifts is only one of the many things you need to get done. With 40% of the U.S. population drinking coffee on a daily basis, it’s quite possible you have a devoted coffee drinker on your list. Consider gifting a coffee-related item that won’t get banished to the top shelf of a closet collecting dust. To help simplify your gift-buying process, here are our suggested gifts for coffee lovers on your list.

FreshRoast SR 540 Coffee Roaster

Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster Gift for Coffee Lovers

You may have coffee aficionados in your life who are either seasoned home roasters or have only expressed an interest in home roasting. Either way, the Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster offers just the right features at an affordable price. The manufacturers of Fresh Roast Coffee Roasters have improved upon the well-loved SR 500 model. Experienced home coffee roasters will welcome the nine heat levels (increased from three), while beginners will appreciate the simplified control panel. Through the use of convection, fluid bed roasters roast coffee beans more evenly. They also roast in about half the time when compared to their drum roaster counterparts. In addition, the real-time temperature readout feature on the SR 540 takes the guesswork out of the roasting process. Overall, the Fresh Roast SR 540 gives users a perfect level of control making it an excellent gift for any coffee lover. $189 w/ Free Shipping (contiguous US only), Free Coffee & a Free Gift.

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder Gift for Coffee Lovers

The most discerning coffee brewers know that conical burr coffee grinders produce the most consistent grinds for a variety of coffees. The Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder is an economical choice for high-quality grinding of roasted coffee beans. Coffee industry experts have tested and found this coffee grinder to produce superior coffee relative to comparable ones on the market. With 40 steps of adjustment, the Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder is the ideal gift for coffee lovers. It is particularly ideal for those who enjoy experimenting with different coffee brewing methods that require different grind sizes. 

When gifting this grinder, you can be sure the recipient will be enjoying a high-quality device with a powerful but quiet motor and a well-constructed gearbox. $139 w/ Free Shipping (contiguous US) and a free pound of un-roasted coffee!

Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids

Home Coffee Roasting Book Gift for Coffee Lovers

Most coffee drinkers continue to brew their daily dose of caffeine at home according to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) most recent National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report. Many of these homebrewers have expanded their coffee routine beyond fancy grinders and coffee makers to home coffee bean roasting. Coffee drinkers who are interested in roasting beans at home, but are intimidated by the thought of it, will find Kenneth Davids’s book, Home Coffee Roasting to be a valuable resource. The book presents information about home coffee bean roasting in an undaunting way. It is the ideal gift for coffee lovers who have an interest in taking control of the taste and freshness of their home-brewed coffee.

Stainless Steel Coffee Growler

Coffee Growler Gift for Coffee Lovers

Sometimes a travel mug’s worth of coffee is just not enough to sustain a person for the entire day. Whether they prefer theirs hot or cold, a Stainless Steel Coffee Growler is the quintessential gift for coffee lovers on your shopping list. The double-walled stainless steel container will keep their coffee hot for up to 12 hours or cold for 24 hours. Because it’s built to be durable and rugged, it is safe to take along on hikes and traveling adventures. In addition, the lifetime warranty makes it well worth the investment for that special coffee drinker in your life. This growler is also available in the following colors: Fern, Slate, and Copper. To thank you, maybe the recipient will be inclined to share a cup of freshly brewed coffee with you.

Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex Coffee Maker Gift for Coffee Lovers

There is something about brewing your coffee in an elegantly designed coffee maker. If you are looking for gifts for coffee lovers who have graceful style, the Chemex 10 Cup Coffee Maker may be a fitting option. It was selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best-designed products of modern times. This well-designed Chemex Coffee Maker can create the perfect cup of coffee when used with Chemex-Bonded Coffee Filters. The high-quality non-porous glass used in this simple but elegantly designed coffee maker does not retain odors or chemical residues. As a result, Chemex Coffee Makers produce a clean flavorful taste that isn’t tainted from previous batches of coffee brewed with different coffee grinds. The size of the Chemex 10 Cup Coffee Maker is the perfect gift for the elegant coffee lover who enjoys sharing a cup of coffee with friends. 

This video walks you through the process of brewing coffee with a Chemex Coffee Maker.

Nesco Electric Water Kettles

Nesco Electric Water Kettle Gift for Coffee Lovers

A Nesco Electric Water Kettle is the ultimate gift for coffee lovers who enjoy the pour-over method of brewing coffee. Because it boils water faster than a microwave, it saves coffee drinkers precious time in their usually hectic mornings. As an added bonus, these water kettles use half the energy of stovetops. The basic Nesco Electric Water Kettle comes with a removable and easy to clean water filter and built-in cord storage in the base. Nesco’s Variable Temperature Electric Water Kettle has all the features of the basic model, but with the added feature of variable temperatures settings – Boil, 200°, 190°, and 175°.

Green Coffee Beans

Green Coffee Beans Gift for Coffee Lovers

Green coffee beans are an exceptional gift idea alone or as a complement to other coffee-related items. The 3-lb Popular and Special Bundles offer a variety of tastes to the coffee drinkers on your list who enjoy home roasting. The Popular Bundle currently includes coffee beans harvested in Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Guatemalan beans in this bundle are easy to roast, making them an excellent choice for less experienced home roasters. The Colombian and Mexican coffee beans produce a fuller-bodied coffee.

The Special Bundle currently includes green coffee beans from Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. All three of these varieties offer some degree of sweetness and fruitiness. This Bundle is a great option for those coffee drinkers/roasters who enjoy the taste of medium roast blends. 

Either Bundle will be a well-appreciated gift for coffee lovers. While you are at it, order a bundle or two for yourself. You can compare notes on taste and roast levels with the coffee fans in your life. 

Handmade Gifts Made with Burlap Coffee Bags

Handmade Burlap Coffee Bag Gift for Coffee Lovers

Are you looking to add a personal touch to gifts for the coffee lovers in your life? If so, a burlap coffee bag creation may be the answer. Recipients will be touched by a handmade gift you spent time to create. An item created from a burlap coffee bag can be an affordable gift they will treasure. Whether it’s an apron, a pillow, or some wall art, your handmade gift for the coffee lover on your list will be much appreciated. It will allow them to express their affinity for their favorite brewed drink. Remember, the burlap coffee bags available for purchase will undoubtedly have imperfections. However, they will add to the charm and authenticity of your handmade creations.

All these gifts for coffee lovers can be found at Burman Coffee Traders. Please visit our site to find additional home coffee roasters, accessories, and green coffee bean options. Not to mention, we offer free shipping and green coffee beans with the purchase of our coffee grinders and home coffee roasters. In addition, our Chemex coffee makers include 100 Chemex square coffee filters.

If you are looking for additional help with selecting a gift for a coffee lover, please contact us. We would be happy to help.