Best Loose Leaf Tea

When it comes to what we choose to drink, whether coffee, juice or even water, we are always looking for the best options. And sure, it is no secret that the trend for high-quality ingredients and beverages has become more prominent in the past few decades. However, it seems that the trend of high-quality has also affected tea. People seem to be turning away from the mass-market produced tea (in tea bags) which is usually consumed without any second thought, to high-quality, loose-leaf tea. Tea has become an indispensable beverage for people, right after water and coffee, and to some extent, it has come to define people, countries, and cultures. There has never been a better time for tea, so why not lookout for the best you can get.

Unlike the commercial tea you can buy at any store, loose-leaf tea is famous for its detailed preparation process, ability to soothe, calm and relax and also all the health properties and benefits. That is why we’ve decided to take a look at loose-leaf tea and help you choose the best one for you. We are going to explore the ways you can choose the best loose-leaf tea, and of course, we’ve also come up with few recommendations. So, let’s get started!

What is Loose-Leaf Tea?

Loose-leaf or whole-leaf tea is made from the dry, unbroken tea leaves. It is safe to say that many people have never encountered or tried loose-leaf tea. The majority relies on the tea in tea bags, which is, of course, significantly lower in quality. Unlike the tea in tea bags, loose-leaf tea is made from high-grade tea, where the leaves are often left intact and are brewed directly in a kettle (without any bags constraining them). Loose-leaf tea contains significantly more flavor and aroma than regular bagged tea, as well as more properties, antioxidants, and compounds which make you healthier, more relaxed and calmer and overall contributes to your wellbeing.

Of course, for the beginners, loose-leaf tea can be intimidating. There seem to be countless tea varieties, a lot of teaware and tools you need to use, and of course, you need to be patient and dedicate time to making loose-leaf tea. When starting out with loose-leaf tea, you will need to make a lot of choices, but in time, this type of tea preparation becomes easier and completely worthy of all the fuss. Loose-leaf tea is all about expanding your horizons and investing in quality in order to get the best tea can offer.

Tea blend of bergamot, rose petals, sage.

How to Choose the Best Loose-Leaf Tea?

Just because tea is the loose-leaf form, doesn’t mean it is high in quality. Some tea makers nowadays tend to skip steps and produce low-grade loose-leaf tea because it is simply cheaper. Therefore, you need to pay attention to certain important factors and aspects when it comes to choosing the best;

1. Growing conditions

Each tea variety has clear preferences in terrain, climate, and rainfall that is necessary for its growth. The differences or sudden changes in growing conditions can alter the plant’s and leaves’ appearance, the harvesting and processing methods, and most importantly, the quality of the resulting tea. That is why you need to look out for the following tea bushes since they are consistently grown in excellent conditions;

  • Camelia Sinensis – these bushes are grown in cool, high-altitude terrains across Asia. As the seasons change, these bushes produce sweet, fragrant leaves that make them perfect for production the tea varieties we all know and love; green, white, Oolong and black tea. Because during the winter these plants cannot yield any leaves, the first pluck, or the first flush often takes place during spring, between February and May. The tea made from the first flush leaves is considered to be the highest in quality, as they are considered the most flavorful and fragrant.
  • Assamica – these bushes are grown in hotter, tropical climates, where there is high annual rainfall. Such growing conditions can be found in countries like India, or in the Yunnan Province in China. Unlike Camelia Sinensis plants, Assamica bushes yield leaves within weeks of being plucked. Therefore, these are re-grown and harvested repeatedly throughout the whole year. Assamica plant is usually grown into leaves for black tea. Because of the high yield, Assamica takes the majority of the commercial tea market. Moreover, the yield potential and leaf resilience make this plant perfect for vigorous, lengthy or complicated processing, which further makes it excellent for longer oxidation, caffeine development, blending, scenting, etc.

2. Fertilization and Pesticides

When growing tea plants, it is important for the cultivators to know certain safe practices regarding organic growth and the use of pesticides. Many tea estates and farms use fertilizers and pesticides to increase the yields as well as enhance the quality of the tea, But, the main reason for this use is to prevent insects, pests or disease outbreaks to wipe out the entire tea crop. Nevertheless, there is a debate on whether tea grown with the help of fertilizers and pesticides is considered high-quality. In Japan, for example, the use of fertilizers and pesticides is necessary to keep the quality consistency, while in other countries natural fertilizers and ‘clean’ tea is considered the priority. Here’s what to look out for;

  • Organic loose-leaf tea – organic tea is grown only with the help of water supply, good compost, soil base, and healthy biodiversity. Organic tea farming refrains from the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. It is considered the ideal form of tea growth, where the growing conditions, safe practices, and management yield fantastic tea, with exceptional flavor profile and quality. However, organic tea farming can be incredibly complex, and a growing issue in many tea-producing countries. Therefore, organic loose-leaf tea can be hard to get a hold of and can be rather expensive.
  • Pesticides/fertilizers-sustained loose-leaf tea – it is believed that without pesticides and fertilizers, sustained tea growth is not possible. The use of these growth enhancers is a common practice that is usually ascribed to the need for consistent, high-quality tea production. Because the tea industry is competitive and is driving the economy of numerous poor and rural areas and regions, the use of pesticides and fertilizers is completely understandable. The problem arises when there is a lack of education regarding these chemical enhancers, which can lead to diseases in humans and the destruction/pollution of soil, environment and water supply.

3. Origin of the Tea

The place your tea comes from can be a major determiner in the quality of the tea. That is why you should be aware of the best tea growing regions, which are the following;

  • China – for thousands of years, China has been the leading producer of tea. Tea in China has become a national treasure and the quality of the product is always the main concern. Best Chinese tea is produced in Yunnan, Sichuan, Fujian, Anhui and Hunan provinces. The teas that are cultivated there are usually green, black and Oolong. Chinese tea is also often scented with fragrant flowers that usually include jasmine or rose. China is the main global tea consumer and one of the main producers and exporters of tea. This applies not only to mainland China but also to Taiwan, which contributes to the tea industry immensely. Taiwan is, after mainland China, one of the biggest global tea producers and exporters, famous for its Oolong and the so-called bubble tea.

Fresh green tea field in a spring morning with Mt Fuji in the background.

  • Japan – Japanese tea culture is the most famous in the world. Even though Japan does not produce as much tea, and the country’s production usually revolves around green tea, this country is one of the major consumer in the world. Moreover, their exports are globally dominant in terms of quality, as Japanese (green) tea is probably the best you can get. The main tea regions in Japan include Kagoshima, Shizuoka, and Uji. Half of the Japanese tea production happens in Shizuoka. Tea is a very important part of Japanese society and culture and is essential to the Japanese tradition. Japan is also the only globally certified producer of Matcha green tea, as this country is the only one to meet the strict and demanding production and quality requirements.
  • India – after China, India is the 2nd biggest tea producer, famous for its Assam and Darjeeling black tea. The majority of the produced tea in India is produced to meet the country’s high demand, and the rest is exported globally. India mainly produces black tea, as previously mentioned, but it also produces green and white teas, however, not in such high quantities as the black tea. The main tea growing regions in India include Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri Mountains region. Assam is the largest tea growing region in the world and Darjeeling is the best known loose-leaf marketed tea growing region. Nilgiri region is located in southern India, famous for its exceptional black tea. Other tea-producing regions include Sikkim, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Other tea producers – other countries that are notable and famous for the exceptionally high-quality loose-leaf tea include; African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Ethiopia), Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, etc.

Best Loose-Leaf Tea Brands

Now that you know all the secrets to what makes quality loose-leaf tea, it is time to look at tea brands that provide the crème de la crème of premium loose-leaf teas.

Harney & Sons is an American family tea company that has been in the business for more than thirty years now. They have built their reputation around high-quality tea production and a variety of tea they provide. The Harney & Sons loose-leaf tea originates in China, Japan, and India and meets the highest standards of quality, flavor, and aroma. This company carries Fair Trade Certified teas and stands for fair traded practices as well as protection of the working conditions in tea-producing regions. Their loose-leaf tea range from standard to luxury, meeting the preferences and affordability of each and every customer.

Taylors of Harrogate is a family business that comprises some of the best tea and coffee specialists in the world. The company is devoted to their craft and the production of high-quality tea and coffee. Their loose-leaf tea collection comprises specialty teas, all originating from India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Africa. Their teas are available for purchase in over 35 countries, but they also provide online sales and shipping. The company also has distributors across the world, which is available for check at their official website. Taylors of Harrogate provide high-quality tea for affordable prices, so make sure to check what they have to offer.

  • Teakruthi

Teakruthi is a Sri Lanka based tea company that specializes in organic, premium, pure Ceylon tea. Their loose-leaf Ceylon tea is organic, naturally grown and prepared. During the production, there are no chemical enhancers used to yield more product, and the tea is all-natural, garden fresh. Moreover, the company uses recycled packaging and focuses on sustained farming and proper education of their workers in regards to tea production and the industry. Ceylon tea is globally acknowledged as one of the best tea in the world, and this company proudly carries the responsibility of producing high-quality, pure Ceylon tea. Their tea collection includes black, green, Oolong and white teas, as well as Ceylon tea infusions for incredibly affordable prices.

  • The Tea Spot

The Tea Spot is a company started by a cancer survivor Maria Uspenski in 2004. Maria’s goal with this company is to provide the best possible tea to their customers so that they can gain from its medicinal properties and numerous healthy compounds. The goal is to provide tea that will make people feel good, healthy, in harmony with their mind and body. That is why the tea this company provides meets all the quality, flavor and aroma standards, in the hope that their loose-leaf tea will become a part of your daily health regimen. The selection of tea is incredible; they have everything, from white, green, black, Oolong, to Pu-erh, Yerba Mate, and Rooibos loose-leaf tea. Because their teas are exceptionally high in quality, the prices tend to be a bit higher as well.

  • Teamonk Global Tea

Teamonk is an Indian based company that specializes in the production of high-quality loose-leaf green and black tea, but they also sell other tea varieties. The principles of the company are based on effort, finest tea production but also exceptional conditions for their plantation workers. Teamonk focuses on producing tea that will provide energy, relaxation, health care, detox and weight care to all their customers. Teamonk believes it is important to consume tea in order to achieve the ultimate health and wellness experience with every cup. That is why their tea is certified globally as organic, of high, biodynamic quality and part of the global fair trade. The company offers 40 years of expertise in tea, so you can get the best end product possible.

  • The Republic of Tea

The Republic of Tea is currently one of the best tea providers on the market. The company offers over 300 premium loose-leaf teas, that are completely organic, all-natural and garden-fresh. The focus of their production is quality, organic, fresh and flavorful tea that everyone can enjoy. The company does not only focus on provides exceptional tea, but also on taking care of the environment in which the tea grows. They are proud supporters of the Whole Planet Foundation and members of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The Republic of Tea loose-leaf teas are incredibly delicious and represent tea in all its glory. They provide a full-bodied cup of heavenly flavors and aroma that is now affordable and available for everyone.

  • In Pursuit of Tea

In Pursuit of Tea is a company that provides a huge variety of tea without affecting the quality. The focus of this company is to provide a selection of tea from each renown tea producing region; the regions include Japan, China and Taiwan, and each selection meets the highest and most demanding quality, flavor and aroma standards. The best of their teas include Oolong and Pu-erh teas, as well as the wonderful and delicate Dai Bai Hao and Silver Needle white tea. The majority of tea companies tend to provide standard and dull tea selection, but In Pursuit of Tea always keeps customers on the edge with numerous surprises and regular new tea arrivals.

More Tips on Buying Loose-Leaf Tea

  • Only purchase loose-leaf tea online when you don’t have the tea available in local tea shops. By buying the tea in person you can actually check the quality right away. However, sometimes certain loose-leaf tea is not available and you have to buy online, in which case, make sure to contact the supplier directly and check for certification and quality control.
  • Stay away from chain names; these are the tea companies that produce tea you can buy at local stores and malls. If you care about quality, you will avoid buying tea from such names as they don’t usually equal quality; not to mention, they don’t sell tea in its loose-leaf form, only in tea bags.
  • Try to buy from smaller tea sellers and smaller, family-owned companies. Chances are that the focus of such sellers is definitely quality and their tea is trustworthy and reliable. The companies we’ve mentioned before are globally renowned, but all are actually companies that started out as small, family business.
  • When buying loose-leaf tea, if you can, discuss the processing and the origin of the tea with the seller. There needs to be evidence that the seller or the company acquires high-quality tea from tea farmers. If you’re ordering online, check for this information at the seller’s website, contact them directly and of course, read the product description.
  • When buying loose-leaf tea, prepare to pay more for higher quality. Of course, not all good tea is expensive, and most certainly not all expensive tea is good. However, the standard prices of loose-leaf tea are definitely higher than those for bagged tea.

Conclusion

Whether you are only a beginner when it comes to loose-leaf tea, or you’re already a pro, we can all agree that the leaf form of tea is by far better than the bagged form. The flavors and aroma are more profound, the tea is much healthier, filled with antioxidants and other healthy compounds, and the overall experience is more mindful and enjoyable. So, don’t be afraid to invest in some high-quality loose-leaf tea and do something good for your mind and body. Make sure to remember our quality guidelines and check our loose-leaf tea brand recommendations.

Jasmine Tea Benefits

Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world for a reason. It has a pleasant flavor, exceptional aroma, and most importantly, health benefits that can help fight off diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular diseases. Of course, not many people take into consideration the health benefits when buying tea; the flavor and the aroma are the main determiners of the quality and the price, and that is what the majority of consumers look after. However, as of lately, people are recognizing the power of the tea in regards to their wellbeing, and the demand for proper information is huge. The majority of the teams have undergone official tests and studies in regards to their beneficial properties, but these studies are too complicated for regular consumers. Especially when it comes to scented teams, like jasmine green tea.

That is why we have decided to tackle this topic and present the most important information to you, as simply as possible. The benefits of jasmine tea are numerous, and before buying it, you should look into the tea’s chemical composition and the effects it will have on your body. Long story short; jasmine tea is an exceptionally healthy beverage. For a more detailed insight, check the following paragraphs.

Jasmine Tea Overview

For those who are not familiar, jasmine tea is a blend of jasmine flower and a usually green tea basis which is scented by the jasmine flower, if the tea is high grade. If the tea is low grade, the scenting is done through jasmine oils or perfumes. Nevertheless, jasmine tea is a scented tea that has undergone several scenting rounds but also undergoes regular green tea processing, blending, and production. The place of origin of this amazing beverage is China, where it is largely consumed for its beneficial properties, alongside the outstanding flavor and aroma. Coming from the famous Fujian Province, jasmine tea is a Chinese national treasure, which has been served to the emperors and dynasties for thousands of years. Nowadays, jasmine tea is produced and consumed globally, from the Philippines, the Middle East, to Europe, North and South America. Nevertheless, the best jasmine green tea still comes from the Far East.

When it comes to jasmine tea, of course, the first thing we notice is the flavor and the aroma. This exotic, sultry and incredibly fragrant tea has a sweet, fruity and flowery flavor and aroma, which are also subtle, elegant and pleasant to each one of our senses. This tea is rich, refined and very delicate. Sometimes the tea blend itself can contain the actual, dried jasmine flowers, but most of the time the tea is simply scented. In China, tea makers don’t want you to simply enjoy the tea through the scent, but also visually, so they tend to leave the flowers in the blend. Later, during the infusion, these flowers come alive and create a spectacle for not your nose and taste buds, but also for the eyes.

Jasmine Tea Chemical Composition

jasmine flowers

Now, before we get into the health benefits of this tea, it is important to understand what makes it healthy in the first place. When tea-based, jasmine tea can be blended with green, black or Oolong tea, receiving its health benefits directly for these bases. However, the jasmine flower itself contains chemicals that are not solely responsible for the scent. To understand this tea better, let’s look at the chemical composition up close;

  • Polyphenols – these compounds are most commonly found in tea, and jasmine green tea is no exception. Polyphenols contain flavonoids and phenolic acids, which green tea is extremely rich in. These compounds are responsible for the flavor and the color of the tea (which is also affected by the compounds from the jasmine flower). They are responsible for a stronger, more profound flavor of the tea. Other than flavonoids, polyphenols also include catechins, which make jasmine green tea rich in antioxidants. Polyphenols contribute to the biological activity of the jasmine green tea, but more on this in the following paragraphs.
  • Amino Acids – amino acids in jasmine green tea include theanine, or to be more precise, L-theanine. It is believed that the consumption of jasmine green tea has a positive effect on the body due to these compounds. They contribute to the development of relaxation, calmness and can also have an uplifting effect. L-theanine also prevents caffeine in the tea to cause any negative effects, like withdrawals, mood crashes or headaches.
  • Caffeine – this compound is a natural stimulant, often found in certain tea varieties, like green tea. Since green tea is often the basis for jasmine tea, it, therefore, contains caffeine. This compound is responsible for numerous beneficial effects in regards to one’s body, and mind. It increases focus, concentration, promotes food digestion and aids weight loss. Green-tea based jasmine tea can contain an estimate of up to 25 to 30mg of caffeine.
  • Other compounds – jasmine tea is rich in numerous other compounds which include minerals (potassium, zinc, selenium, magnesium), peptides (proteins), organic acids, carbohydrates, volatile flavor and aroma compounds, etc. All of these contribute to the chemistry of the tea, health properties, as well as its color, flavor, and taste.
  • Compounds found in the flower alone – jasmine flowers contain antioxidants, essential oils, phenolic acids, flavonoids, coumarins, saponins, and steroids. These all increase the health properties of the tea, making it more versatile in medicinal applications.

The Health Benefits

Now, it is important to know that jasmine flowers themselves can provide certain health benefits. Therefore, plain-jasmine tea is a common way of consuming this beverage in order to take advantage of its certain compounds and health properties. However, when combined with a tea basis, which is often green tea, the health properties double and make the beverage more effective in its medicinal application and health benefits. Here’s how you can benefit from drinking jasmine tea;

Anticancer activity

Jasmine tea with a green tea basis has been studied for its anticancer activity. To be more precise, the studies revolve around gastrointestinal cancer and the effects jasmine tea consumption can have on its reduction and development inhibition. Particular studies have shown that regular jasmine tea consumption can have a significant positive relationship in regards to protective effects against gastric cancer. When it comes to upper gastric cancer as well as esophageal cancer, jasmine tea has also shown positive results; regular consumption has inhibitory effects, reduces cancer cell growth, cancer development and overall risk of developing cancer in the first place. Jasmine green tea has also been associated with prostate and breast cancer development prevention. Moreover, regular consumption of this amazing beverage can also reduce the recurrence of cancer in people who have already suffered.

Cardiovascular health protection

Studies have shown that regular jasmine tea consumption can help people protect their heart health as well as prevent the occurrence of heart diseases and heart attacks. Jasmine tea helps unclog arteries that were clogged by potentially harmful cholesterol. Green tea, in particular, can prevent plaque formation and lower the risk of heart disease development. One particular study has shown that people who regularly consume jasmine tea lower the risk of heart disease by 19%, and the risk of heart attacks by 36%, as well as the risk of strokes and other heart-related problems.

Weight loss

Many studies and research have been conducted in regards to the connection between tea consumption and weight loss. One particular study published in Indonesia has found a direct connection between jasmine flower tea and weight loss effect. It has been discovered that jasmine flowers are efficient in the inhibition of fat accumulation in the body. Moreover, not only does the jasmine tea prevent fat accumulation, but also aids weight loss, and makes the whole process of losing weight much faster and long-lasting. The tea has diuretic properties, suppresses appetite, decreases the feeling of hunger or the need to snack and prevents fat from storing around organs like the liver. All of this makes it an exceptional weight loss aid that is even recognized and recommended by the medical community. Jasmine tea with a green tea base is probably even more effective as green tea does miracles for weight loss.

Gastroprotective properties

For thousands of years, the Chinese have used jasmine tea to treat stomach related diseases and problems, whether related to spleen, stomach or liver. Even though the gastroprotective effects of jasmine tea have not been tested on humans, animal trials have shown exceptional results. One particular research has shown that jasmine tea protects these organs and improves their function; for example, it promotes the spleen to assist with digestion and blood coagulation or helps the liver to regulate the body fluids more effectively. Jasmine tea that has a green tea base is especially effective in easing stomach pain, calming down the irritable bowel syndrome and overall keep the gut flora, or gut bacteria healthy and effective.

Antidepressant and antianxiety properties

Recent studies on natural depression and anxiety remedies have shown that jasmine (as a flower, essential oil or tea blend) can help with depression and anxiety. For many people, taking pills can cause numerous side effects, which can themselves become a bigger problem than depression in the first place. However, by using jasmine essential oils or by consuming jasmine tea, one is going to see positive results in their fight against depression and anxiety. Even just by scenting the oil or the tea, people are more likely to calm down experience better, uplifting mood. Studies, conducted in Germany, have proven these effects of jasmine, and further research is conducted as jasmine is being recommended to become a remedy companion in depression and anxiety cases.

Conclusion

In the world where pills and medication serve as the main remedy, and the first thing we all grab onto, turning to tea might be the best we can do for our health. Tea has been used for centuries as a way of treating numerous kinds of diseases and conditions, so why not use it today. Jasmine tea is accessible to everyone nowadays, and it can provide so much for both, your mind and your body. So, in the light of the holidays and the New Year, make it your resolution to take more care about your health, and go purchase some loose-leaf jasmine tea. Your body will be thankful.