Herbal Interests // Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags

When I started writing this series, Herbal Interests, almost a year ago, I never thought that it would adapt into me creating herbal beauty recipes. I was having so much fun writing about the medicinal properties of herbs at that time, which grew into me actually trying to use them! I realized the other day that's it been quite some time since I actually sat down and wrote out some herbal medicine research for you guys. I've missed it! 

Lately, I've been wanting to drink more healthful teas. One of my goals for the new year was to be more habitual in my everyday life, and like most resolutions, I'm taking it one step at a time. My first habit was becoming more waste free. So far, it's been working really well! We've decided that a compost bin under the kitchen sink does not work for us. We leave the compostable materials in there for several days and by that time they start to mold. We're currently waiting on a countertop compost bin that will hopefully help to remind us to take out the compost! Other than that, the recycling is going really well. We love it! So much less waste. We don't use as many paper towels, we've been cleaning with natural products. It's been fun! BUT. Next goal... drink more tea in the morning and at night. I think it will help with my mental health, allow me to wake up happier and go to sleep peacefully. I also just really want to see if drinking green tea everyday for a month helps my acne. This darn acne just keeps at it!

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Quite a while ago, I wrote a blog post on how to brew herbal teas. Since then, I've made plenty of teas for my family over the months, especially when we've all been sick. They actually work really well! I shared some tea for cold + flu season this past winter, and I have to say, the sore throat tea is absolutely lovely. It always works! In my quest to learn more, I was curious to see why there was such a big hype about loose leaf teas and whole leaf tea. Why weren't teabags as efficient as the fancy tea? Well, I learned some good things, and a lot of them I think compare quite well to any commercially created and packaged products. 

We were sitting on the couch the other day reading a blog (I can't remember the name at this time) about how orange juice is basically completely disgusting and not really orange juice at all. I was curious to know why drinking juice without preservatives was so terrifying for pregnant women and children. To my surprise, most commercially made orange juices are actually filled with orange essential oil and wood pulp. WOOD. PULP. Ew. Anyway, to get to the point, the writer at the end of their post said:  if you want the benefits of an orange, then eat an orange. I couldn't agree more! More whole foods in this lady's life, please!!

Commercially picked and packaged tea isn't much different. Some are definitely filled with added chemicals, but for the most part commercial tea is made from the dust and fannings of broken leaves. Tea is brewed at its best when the leaves are allowed to expand and infuse to their full flavor potential. When a commercial tea manufacturer is creating tea bags, they want to stuff as much tea as possible in the bag, and breaking the leaves down into tiny pieces they are able to achieve that. Because of this, however, the tea is constricted and doesn't have much room to expand, resulting in stale and flavorless tea as well as tea that's only able to be used and drank one time. Pretty smart way to get you to purchase more tea bags.

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When you brew whole leaf tea, the leaves expand and infuse in hot water, creating a rich, flavorful tea full of aromas, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Did you know the first tea bag was made of hand-sewn silk? Now they're made from bleached paper fiber and heat-sealable plastic. There are a few companies who make pyramid tea bags, which allow whole leaf tea the room to expand without allowing fallout into your cup. 

When I brew tea, I usually just place the leaves into a pot of boiling water and let them boil, covered, for about 20 minutes. I don't normally brew decoctions, which are simmered for a long while and are made with root matter. Infusions are best for leaf teas, such as green or black. You can read more about both in my herbal tea brewing post. This doesn't always work if you are away from home, at work or traveling. In that case, I say find a tea infuser that you like! You can brew the same tea leaves up to six time, if flavor persists, and your tea infuser is reusable for years to come. I have a small metal one that I picked up at our Amish country store. I love it! It's the perfect size for an individual cup. 

What do you think? Do you like whole leaf tea better? 

xoxo Kayla 

My tea tin and wood scoop are c/o The Freckled Hen Farmhouse.