The Great Debate: Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags


Tea has been gaining rapid popularity in not only the beverage world, but the health and wellness world as well – and we see no sign of it stopping.

When it comes to tea, there are many questions most people are certain the answer of.  Green or black?  Caffeinated or herbal?  Fruity or spicy?  But one question remains that most are still left scratching their heads over: loose leaf tea or store-bought tea bags?


The tea you find in mass-produced tea bags is virtually not even tea at all.  In fact, what you find in a teabag is the leftover bits and dust from loose leaf tea referred to as “fannings”.  Fannings are the lowest quality tea available and quite literally, the bottom of the barrel.  Compromising in quality means you are compromising in taste, variety, health benefits, and even price.

Of course quality can vary in loose leaf tea as well.  When shopping for a quality loose leaf tea, you want to make sure the leaves are vibrant in colour, and that in a flavoured blend, the tea leaf is the most abundant and primary ingredient in the blend.  Lower quality loose leaf tea will have an overwhelming amount of additional flavourings, fruits, or spices.  Compare CitizenTea’s Goji Green with DavidTea’s Goji Green.


Poor quality means poor taste, so it’s no surprise that when you drink teabagged tea, your cup is often bitter and astringent.

Oftentimes with loose leaf tea, those who say that they prefer teabags are steeping loose tea incorrectly.  Tea is temperamental, so it’s important to pay attention to water temperature and steeping time.

White and green tea should never be steeped with water hotter than 80*C, as boiling water will burn the delicate leaves and make your tea bitter.  Steeping time is also an important factor, as over steeping will often make your tea bitter as well.

With these small details in mind, loose leaf tea lends itself to a more customized cup.  For tea drinkers who like their tea strong, adding an extra scoop of tea will give you the kick you are looking for in a cup, those who like it on the weaker side can choose to use less tea or steep for less time.

Health Benefits

The benefits of tea are no secret, and sometimes, we find ourselves drinking tea not for the flavour or the tiny energy boost, but for all the awesome health benefits that come with it.  However, all the benefits of tea are found in the leaf itself, so as you can imagine, when you are drinking the poor quality of tea found in a teabag, you are limiting the amount of benefits you get.

The world of herbal tea also offers a whole host of health benefits that green or black tea does not.  CitizenTea has an entire Wellness Blend line featuring exclusive blends like Sleep Well, Immune Support, Cleansing, and the award-winning Inner Harmony.  Based on Ayurvedic principles, these herbal teas are a great, all-natural way to help guide your body on your journey to wellness.


It may be difficult to differentiate the taste of cranberry or strawberry in a bagged tea, partially due to the overwhelmingly bitter taste from the tea itself, but also due to artificial flavouring ingredients.  Loose leaf tea will often flavour their teas with natural ingredients, satisfying the flavour profile you are searching for.

CitizenTea, a Canadian online tea company, offers over 120 loose leaf teas.  With white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea, all the way to Rooibos, Yerba Mate, Herbal and Fruit, tea drinkers and beginners are sure to find a blend they love.

Farmer at tea plantation.
Farmer at tea plantation.

Environmentally Friendly
One tiny tea bag creates a large amount of waste.  Let’s break it down: the tea itself is put into a bag.  To secure the tea in the bag, it is often stapled with a metal staple.  To keep the tea in your cup, a string is often fastened to the staple.  To do this, 3 different materials are used making recycling and composting essentially an impossible task.  The tea bags are then usually individually packaged, and put inside a carton, which is then shrink wrapped in plastic.

CitizenTea ships their tea in bulk, therefore reducing packaging and maximizing the amount of leaves they can get in one shipment.  On top of that, CitizenTea sources their tea through direct trade, which means they deal directly with the tea suppliers.  This relationship allows them to ensure that their tea is ethically sourced, and the suppliers are earning a fair wage and being treated with the respect they deserve.

Shop a selection of 120 loose leaf teas now at and receive 40% off at checkout for Black Friday 2016.