Beginner’s Guide to Loose Leaf Tea

Beginner’s Guide to Loose Leaf Tea

Loose leaf tea is fast becoming a popular form of tea with its fuller flavour, compared to tea bags, it’s re-steeping abilities and the chance it offers to take a break in a busy day, it’s perfect for tea lovers the world over.   

All ‘true’ tea is derived from the Camellia Sinensis bush. However, depending on the region, the climate, the season and the way the tea is processed as well as how it is steeped, the taste differs. 

The different types of tea arise from the level of manufacturing the tea leaves go through. They include black, green, white and oolong. 


What is Loose Leaf? 

Loose leaf teas are teas that are not brewed in tea bags. Loose leaf has varying tastes and aromas dependent on several factors such as where the tea is harvested from, to when it is harvested. Loose leaf is also known to have more flavour as a result of the ‘breathing space’ it has when being brewed. Firstly, the tea leaves are bigger and therefore more flavour is retained. Secondly, when brewing a cup of tea, loose leaf teas (should) have more area to absorb water and more space to expand and release the natural vitamins, minerals, flavours, and aromas contained in the leaves.


A Short Guide to the Different Types of Loose Tea Leaves

The different types of loose-leaf teas arise due to the level of manufacturing the original leaves undergo. If you’re looking for the best loose-leaf tea brands, Dilmah Tea offers a range of loose-leaf tea types.


Green Tea

To make green tea, leaves are first dried and then heated to avoid oxidization. This process alters the taste and aroma of the tea. The taste of the tea differs from the way they are heated with the flavours, varying from smokiness to greener, grassier tones.


White Tea

White tea undergoes the least amount of processing. Only the tender young spring buds are make this tea. The buds are withered and then dried to avoid oxidation. Because of minimal processing, the tea has a very gentle and delicate look and flavour.


Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is a mix between black tea and green tea. Undergoing a more complex manufacturing process, oolong leaves are more oxidised than green teas but less than black teas, making it semi-oxidised. The appearance of the tea differs as well from light green to brown, and the shapes vary from long and twisted to rolled up into balls. The taste and smell can range from fruity to honey to floral or sandalwood. 


Black Tea

Black teas have the longest manufacturing process. They are withered after plucking, then rolled to release enzymes from the leaf and then they are fully oxidised. The taste and look of black tea is stronger, richer and darker than their counterparts.


Brewing Guide

The general rule for brewing loose leaf tea is use 1 tsp of tea per 8oz cup (250mL) of water. A tea infuser will help you brew your loose leaves with ease!


White tea

  • Boil water to 70° C – 80°C 
  • Brew for 2-3 minutes


Green tea

  • Boil water to 70° C – 80°C 
  • Brew for 2-3 minutes


Oolong tea

  • Boil water to 80°C – 90°C
  • Brew for 2-3 minutes


Black tea

  • Boil water to 95°C - 100°C
  • Brew for 3-5 minutes


How to Store Loose Leaf Tea

Correct storage of loose-leaf tea is important to ensure that the taste and aroma are maintained.

Key factors to remember when storing tea is to:

  1. Keep it dry as exposure to moisture can make it mouldy.
  2. Minimize contact with air to prevent further oxidation of the tea leaves. 
  3. Keep away from direct light to maintain freshness. 
  4. Store in a cool place between 10° and 25°C (50°-68°F) to ensure that decomposition is slow.
  5. Don't put it in the fridge, though, as that will expose it to humidity and moisture will build up.
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