Loose Leaf Tea vs. Conventional Teabags

Loose Leaf tea versus Traditional Tea Bags

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.


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 and cup of coffee on a table

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to include more coffee gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.

The holidays may look a bit different for us this year. Although we may not be able to gather with many of our friends and family, we can still send out our well-wishes and holiday gifts. In these stressful times, a warm cup of coffee can bring much-needed comfort for many of us. If you do have family and friends who are coffee fans, you will find this updated shopping guide helpful as you seek to bring cheer to your loved ones. In this guide, we have highlighted the top gifts for coffee lovers below. Our guide has been updated and expanded from our coffee gift ideas list from last year.

Home Coffee Bean Roasters Come in a Variety of Sizes and Price Points.

Whether the coffee enthusiasts in your life are seasoned home roasters or have only expressed an interest in home roasting, there is an excellent selection of roasters available.

sr 800
The Fresh Roast SR 800 Coffee Roaster is an excellent gift choice for those serious about home roasting coffee.

It is a fluid bed coffee roaster described as “easy-to-use” with a quick roasting process. Through convection, fluid bed roasters roast coffee beans more evenly and about twice as quickly as their drum roaster counterparts. The estimated roasting time for this roaster is 10 to 20 minutes, including cooling time.

This roaster’s taller roast chamber gives it a higher bean capacity (six to eight ounces) relative to others. You can increase the capacity even further with the extension tube. Not only can you roast more beans at a given time, but the larger space also allows for better bean rotation. You can purchase the SR 800 Roaster and extension tube as a bundle. 

The nine fan settings and nine heat settings make this roaster highly adjustable and perfect for master roasters. However, the simplified control panel and clean design make it an attractive choice for beginners as well.

Fresh Roast 540 Coffee Roaster
The Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster offers the same features found on the SR 800 but with a smaller bean capacity and at a more affordable price.

The SR 540 can roast about four ounces (120 grams) of coffee beans in each batch. This model is an improvement on the well-loved SR 500 model. Overall, the Fresh Roast SR 540 is an excellent gift for coffee lovers looking to roast smaller batches of beans.

The Nesco Coffee Roaster is the ideal gift for coffee lovers who are interested in trying home roasting.

This roaster allows you to affordably gift them with the opportunity to try their hand at home roasting. Luckily for true beginners, the Nesco Roaster is easy to use and maintain. It has only two pre-programmed heat settings – medium and dark roasts. Because of its compact design, the recipient won’t have to sacrifice much space in their kitchen to use and store this roaster.

We are confident novice home roasters will be happy with the results. They will soon find themselves ready to upgrade to the SR 540 or SR 800 Roasters as they gain more roasting experience.

A High-Quality Coffee Grinder is Key for a Fresh Cup of Coffee, Making it a “Must Have” Gift Idea for Coffee Lovers.

Baratza offers a robust selection of reliable coffee grinders for a wide range of budgets. The most discerning coffee brewers know burr coffee grinders produce the most consistent grinds for various coffees.

coffee grinder
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 who are just starting and enjoy experimenting with different coffee brewing methods that require different grind sizes.

The next step up in grinders would include the Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder.

Its higher-performing burr set justifies the higher price. The burr set in this grinder provides a clean cup of coffee with less powder throw off by cutting instead of smashing the beans. It also includes a digital interface allowing for easy time-based dosing. 

Baratza also offers the Sette Series of grinders. These grinders provide the following: 
  • Straight-through bean transport and grinding, allowing for increased efficiency and less coffee residue left in the machine.
  • Double to triple grinding throughput relative to comparable grinders.
  • The efficient torque transfer leads to lower power consumption.

Two options in this series are the Baratza Sette 30 AP and Baratza Sette 270.

Baratza Sette 30 Coffee Grinder

The Sette AP, the more affordable option of the two, offers 30 steps of macro adjustment.

baratza sette 270

The Sette 270, at a higher price point, adds nine settings of stepless micro-adjust. The high level of precision provided allows coffee drinkers to fine-tune their grinds.

baratza vario-w

For the most serious coffee enthusiast, Baratza created the Vario-W Coffee Grinder. This elite coffee grinder offers professional-level results without a large footprint. It also has a sleek design which is in line with the high quality grinding it provides. It provides 230 steps of adjustment perfect for any brewing method. A highlight of this grinder is the built-in scale that provides accurate weighing of grinds resulting in the perfect cup of coffee.

Whichever Baratza grinder you choose for your coffee fan, you can be confident you will be gifting a high-quality device with a powerful but quiet motor and well-constructed gearbox.

The Chemex Coffee Maker is an Exquisite Gift for Those Who Appreciate Both Flavorful Coffee and Minimalistic Design.

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. Selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best-designed products of modern times, the 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. This glass ensures a clean, flavorful taste that isn’t tainted by 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.

A Water Kettle Pairs Well With the Chemex Coffee Maker or a Tea Bundle.  

A Nesco Electric Water Kettle is the ultimate gift for coffee lovers who enjoy the pour-over method of brewing coffee. They boil water faster than a microwave, saving 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 temperature settings – Boil, 200°, 190°, and 175°.

Those coffee fans who also enjoy a cup of tea every now and then will appreciate a gift combination that includes a Nesco Electric Water Kettle with one of several premium tea bundles we offer. See the ones we have highlighted a little farther in this guide.  

A Selection of High-Quality Green Coffee Beans Will Be a Much-Appreciated Gift for the Coffee Lover on the Home Coffee Roasting Journey.

Guatemalan Org Huehuetenango BCT Select

A few pounds of green coffee beans is an excellent 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 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 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 so that you can compare notes on taste and roast levels with the coffee fans in your life. 

People’s Affinity Towards Coffee Doesn’t Preclude Them From Being Tea Fans as Well.

Many coffee enthusiasts are loyal to coffee and coffee alone. However, there are still others who drink both coffee and tea. A tea gift set is an excellent option for these people who are fans of both. 

The convenience of conventional teabags may be tempting. However, the taste of loose leaf tea is superior.  Learn more about the advantages loose leaf teas have over traditional teabags.

We have a diverse selection of tea samplers from which to choose. Each of the following tea samplers come with six ounces of tea in total – two ounces of each of the three varieties.

  1. The Flavored Tea Bundle includes blends of the classic varieties: Earl Grey Blue Mallow Blossom Black Tea, Jasmine Special Grade Green Tea, and Moroccan Mint Green BCT Blend. 
  1. The Pacific Tea Bundle consists of traditionally hand-produced green teas from Japan and Taiwan. The bundles include the following premium green teas: Green Dragon Oolong Tea, Sincha – Okumidori Cultivar, and Organic Roasted Kukicha Twig Tea.
  1. The China Bundle highlights the traditional methods used to create a variety of teas. This sampler bundle includes “Dragon Well” Organic Special Green Tea, “Grand Keemum” Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Flavored White Tea.
  1. For those tea drinkers with an infinity for the assortment of tastes from India’s regions, the India Bundle may be a perfect choice. This sampler includes the following premium teas: Masala Chai Flavored Black Tea, Assam Black Tea, and Holy Detox Healing Blend Herbal Infusion.

To complete your gift, include a tea ball with the tea sampler bundles. This simple stainless steel mesh ball can hold enough tea to make a large mug of tea or small pot. 

A Home Coffee Roasting Reference Book Can Give Coffee Fans Confidence to Pursue Their Interest in Coffee Roasting.

According to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) most recent National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report, most coffee drinkers continue to brew their daily dose of caffeine at home. Many of these homebrewers have expanded their coffee routine beyond fancy grinders and coffee makers to home coffee bean roasting. Coffee drinkers 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 interested in taking control of the taste and freshness of their home-brewed coffee.

A Well-Made Coffee Growler is the Perfect Gift for Coffee Lovers Looking to Keep their Brewed Drink Fresh and Hot (or Cold).

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 the growler is built to be durable and rugged, it is safe to take along on hikes and traveling adventures. 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.

Add a Personal Touch to Your Coffee Gifts by Using Burlap Coffee Bags.

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Are you looking to add a personal touch to gifts for the coffee lovers in your life? Recipients will find it touching that you spent the time to create a handmade gift. An item made 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 help them express their affinity for the brewed drink. Remember, the burlap coffee bags available for purchase will undoubtedly have imperfections, but they will add to the charm and authenticity of your handmade creations.

Gift Certificates Give Recipients the Freedom to Choose Based on their Personal Preferences.

If you aren’t quite sure what the coffee fan on your gift list would prefer, gift certificates are a great option to consider. They can redeem gift certificates whenever it is most convenient for them. It gives them the chance to peruse the available options online and decide which green coffee beans they prefer or which roasting, grinding, or brewing equipment they are ready to try.

Burman Coffee Traders offers gift certificates in the following denominations: $10, $25, $50, and $100. 

You can find all these gifts for coffee lovers at Burman Coffee Traders. Please visit our site to find additional home coffee roasters, accessories, and green coffee bean options. We offer free shipping and green coffee beans with the purchase of our coffee grinders and home coffee roasters. Also, 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.