Loose Leaf Tea

Tony Bowles

loose leaf tea

Loose Leaf Tea

Tea is made from the plant Camellia sinensis and is the botanical name for the plant species from which all tea comes. This is the only plant known to produce the world’s most popular beverage. The drink has a rich history and its consumption has gone through many changes over the years.

Camellia Sinensis is a bush or small tree that grows naturally in subtropical climates around the world, including India, China, Japan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Loose Leaf Tea

Loose leaf tea comes in different colours (green, black, white, oolong) but they all contain the same flavor components: catechins (a type of polyphenol), caffeine (a stimulant), and l-theanine (an amino acid). It also contains some vitamins such as thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine or vitamin B6, folate or vitamin B9 and some minerals such as magnesium.

Black Tea

Most black tea is processed in one of four ways: CTC, Orthodox, Semi-Orthodox and Fermented.

CTC processing produces a large amount of broken leaves and a small amount of whole leaves. The entire leaf is oxidized, but the leaves are not rolled. This means that the flavour will be stronger, but less complex than other methods.

Orthodox processing produces a smaller amount of broken leaves and a higher percentage of whole leaves that are tightly rolled into balls or twisted to form flat shapes. Unlike CTC processing the entire leaf is not oxidized during this process, which produces a more nuanced flavor profile with less sharpness and astringency than CTC-processed tea.

Two of the most popular black teas are Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea.

Earl Grey tea

The ultimate love of the classic tea lovers! It is a tea habit that became a tradition and part of the culture. People all over the world have cherished this classic tea innovation over many years. In a simple definition, it is the black tea flavored with the oil of bergamot fruit. This combination results in a distinctive citrusy flavor to the tea, and throughout history, this tea has been linked with upper-class tea cultures, power, and social status. The tea is regarded as a delicacy suited for any occasion, however, when looking into history it has commonly been associated with royals and high profile events.

History of Earl Grey tea

When eyeing into history, there are many stories that explain the origin of earl grey tea. Out of which most common story is attached with the British Prime Minister Charles Grey or the 2nd Earl of the Grey in 1830s. His ruling period is considered to be an era that had significant reforms such as policies to abolish slavery, removal of trade monopoly that held by East India company. These policy decisions enabled the fast growth of the international trade, including the growth of the tea industry from China to all over the world. With the growth of the trade, tea became more available to British consumers instead of being a luxury commodity. The story says that Charles Grey was gifted with a very special tea inherited by Chinese people, to show gratitude for his service. Later this tea type became popular among British tea drinkers, especially the upper social class and was named after the prime minister as "Earl Grey". When analyzing the history of tea culture, Earl Grey tea can be identified as one of the oldest versions of tea flavoring and this has not been trademarked by its creators. Therefore, many tea traders and brands have come up with their own verities of Earl Grey tea and it has come a long way since its inception.

Why Bergamot Oil is so Special?

Bergamot or Citrus bergamia is a citrus fruit commonly grown in countries like Italy and France and the bergamot oil is extracted from the rind of bergamot fruit. The extracts of bergamot fruit have commonly been used to scent foods, perfumes, and cosmetics. The essential oils that are extracted from bergamot peel have very high economic value due to its unique fragrance and the freshness. Applications of these essences can be found not only in the food industry but also in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. When you sip a cup of earl grey tea it is worthwhile to know that this tea is not only refreshing but also packed with loads of health benefits. It is known that bergamot oil is one of the best essential oils to alleviate depression, stress, and anxiety.



How the Oil is Extracted?

When it comes to extraction of Bergamot oil few techniques such as steam – distillation or expression (cold pressing) techniques can be used. According to literature, expression technique is commonly recommended for essential oil extraction of citrus fruits such as Bergamot, mainly because the process can preserve many of desirable chemical compounds. Today, the extraction process is mainly achieved through machines that will first send the fruit through a series of stages to release the essential oils from the rind while the device is rotated. Then the centrifugal forces are used to separate the essential oil from the other fruit juice compounds.

Preparation and Brewing

This signature tea blend is prepared by gentle spraying of bergamot oil over the black tea leaves and allowing it to rest or settle for a while, preferably in a closed container. This technique is known to be more efficient in flavoring the tea leaves, especially in today’s large-scale tea productions. Alternatively, another technique is used simply by adding rinds of bergamot orange into tea and thereby the tea leaves will absorb the essential oils slowly during storage and brewing.

Earl Grey tea is prepared by mild brewing, mainly due to the added flavor to the black tea. Therefore, it is recommended to brew the tea for 3 to 4 minutes using water at around 90 degrees of Celsius. This tea is recommended to serve without added sugar, however, sometimes consumed along with other flavors such as cream or honey. Earl Grey tea is commonly paired with lemon, lavender and many other herbal and fruit ingredients. Further, the classic “Earl Grey” version is consumed without any further additives.

Health Benefits of Black Tea 

Black tea is a nature’s mystic gift that helps to refresh your mind and body. Especially today, with much biomedical research, it has been proved that tea is not only a refreshing beverage but also a healing beverage. All of these benefits are derived as a result of very special chemical composition in tea leaves. A typical cup of tea contains mostly water and then the water-soluble compounds that comes from tea leaves to the brew. If we analyze the chemistry inside this, “Polyphenols” is the major water-soluble chemical component found in tea and contributes most to the taste of tea. In addition to that, the tea brew contains caffeine, amino acids, carbohydrates and some other compounds that are available in trace amounts. The caffeine content of black tea is around 3-4g per 100g of dry weight and this is less than that of coffee.

Benefits of all these compounds come in many ways. The profound benefit is hydration as we consume a majority of water with a cup of tea. But on the other hand, much-valued benefits are coming with the chemical compounds such as polyphenols and amino acids. We have list down below, some of the common benefits associated with the drinking of black tea.

  •  Tea is hydrating: as we have indicated earlier, tea is a flavourful way to get the daily intake of water to your body. 
  • Tea is non-caloric: when consuming tea, you don't need to worry about the additional calories that might come along with the drink as tea contains almost zero calories. 
  • Tea contains beneficial antioxidants – Tea Polyphenols are well known for its anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals inside the human body and also capable of helping body cells to regenerate and repair.
  • Tea is a mild stimulator: the beverage has simulative properties due to the availability of caffeine. However, it is important to know that tea caffeine is only a mild stimulator with associated calming properties, mainly because of the joint effect of tea and amino acids. 
  • Tea can protect you from many diseases: tea is known to have preventive impacts for many diseases such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases. 



The processing of green tea is a very complicated process, and takes approximately six hours to complete. One of the most important steps in the processing is "rolling" the leaves. This is done by passing them through a set of rollers that squeezes out the moisture in them and turns them into a thin, round sheet.

The next step is "oxidation," in which a process called fermentation changes some of the leaf’s compounds into amino acids, which give green tea its unique taste. The oxidation process can take up to three days for dark teas or two days for lighter-colored teas. This stage can be skipped entirely if one chooses to add flavoring later on, such as jasmine or mint leaves.

green tea

Oolong Tea

One of the most popular types of tea is oolong, which comes from the Chinese word “wulong” meaning “black dragon.”

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea that is made from leaves that are picked at the halfway point between green and black teas. This gives it a distinctive flavor profile that can be savoured for many infusions. The ideal temperature for brewing oolong tea depends on how many infusions you want to enjoy it for - hotter temperatures will produce more infusions, while colder temperatures will produce fewer infusions.

Some people like to drink oolong tea because it has a strong flavour. Others enjoy the delicate flavour of oolong tea, which is perfect for drinking during the day.

There are various ways to brew this type of tea, which is why it is important to know the basics before you start. There are many factors to consider, including the water temperature, brewing time, and number of infusions.

Firstly, it is important to know that there are two types of oolong tea: Taiwanese and Chinese. The process for brewing these two types is different.

In order to brew Taiwanese oolong tea properly, one needs to use boiling water and steep the leaves for around 3-4 minutes before pouring out the liquid into a cup or mug. In order to brew Chinese oolong tea properly, one needs to use water at around 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit) and steep the leaves for around 10 minutes before pouring.

Pouchong tea

Pouchong tea has a more of a smoother flavour than Oolong, but a stronger flavour than Green tea. This is achieved by exposing the leaves to a oxidisation process, where only 8 to 10% oxidisation takes place. The leaves are then exposed to withering from the sun as well as indoors, followed by rolling, panning and drying. Pouchong tea is enjoyable and has a delicate and light taste. 

White Tea

White tea is a type of tea that is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, which are processed less than oolong or black teas. It is one of the most popular types of tea in eastern countries like China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Brewing white tea is a relatively simple process, infusion times are usually between 3-5 minutes. The common brewing temperature for green and black teas is 80-90 Celsius (180-190 Fahrenheit). However, we recommend a lower temperature for white teas because they are more delicate and sensitive to heat. The temperature of the water should be just below boiling point, around 90°C. While there are many different types of white teas, you can generally expect 2-3 infusions from the same leaves.


Matcha tea is a type of tea that is made from the whole, shade-grown leaves and ground into a fine powder. It has been consumed in Japan for centuries and it is now popular all over the world.

The two main types of matcha are ceremonial grade and drinking grade. Ceremonial grade matcha is typically used in the Japanese tea ceremony, while drinking grade is for everyday drinking. The ceremonial grade matcha tea is the highest grade, the brightness of the green colour is a measure of the quality of the tea.

The most popular way to drink matcha is by whisking it with hot water to make a frothy, bright green and slightly sweet drink. 

Matcha tea preparation methods vary depending on the country. In Japan, they prepare it by whisking it with hot water and then pouring the water through a strainer into a cup. In China, they like to mix matcha powder with warm milk and sugar before whisking it together to create a frothy drink.

The best way to brew matcha depends on your desired taste:

If you want an intense flavour and colour, use between 1-2 teaspoons of matcha per 8 ounces of water or milk, for a milder taste, use 1 teaspoon of matcha. The traditional way of preparing matcha calls for using a bamboo whisk, but this can be substituted with any whisk or spoon.

Loose Leaf Tea and Tea Bags

The leaves that are found in most tea bags are referred to as fannings or dust. When the tea leaves are going through the  process, dust falls to the ground and it is this dust that is swept up and placed into tea bags. It is therefore the lowest grade of tea and is suitable for people who are not that bothered about the taste and just want a quick cuppa with the addition of milk and sugar.

With loose leaf tea, the leaves are whole and when given room to expand, they are more able to absorb water. This enables the leaves to produce a full bodied flavour, along with a full aroma and plenty of antioxidants (vitamins and minerals). Well known brands of tea bags bought from a grocery store will always taste the same. This is because they contain a blend of tea from around the world. Loose leaf tea may be sourced from a single region or even a single estate and it's flavour may vary depending on the season when the tea was harvested. Loose leaf tea is picked by hand (women do the picking because of their small fingers) and then the tea is hand sorted to select the best leaves. Tea that is intended for tea bags is harvested by machine and is then packed into boxes and stored in warehouses which can be for  lengthy periods of time. Steeping is the term used when tea leaves are placed into heated water, so that they can release their flavour and nutrients. Loose leaf tea can be steeped several times, so you can get three pots of tea from the same leaves. A tea bag can only be steeped once and most tea bags are made from paper that has been bleached, this can affect the taste of the tea. Most people will believe that making tea from leaves is a lot of hassle and is not worth it when you can simply dunk a bag in a cup. This is simply not true and there are teapots which have strainers built into them which also allow the tea plenty of room to infuse. You can either empty the used leaves into the bin or if you have a garden, they will do wonders for your roses!