Welcome to our newest series. In “Friday Favorites,” our team will share a handful of favorite items. These can range from clothes to beauty products to recipes to books and anything in between.
I wrote about my favorite teas in Friday Favorites a few months ago and started off by declaring that I know tea. I highlighted the types of tea I like to drink throughout the day using commercial brands of tea bags for simplicity’s sake.
But I was called out by a reader who correctly commented that one cannot claim to know tea without even mentioning loose-leaf tea. I was so excited to hear from her and thanked her for taking the time to write. And she was absolutely correct.
So I’ll be talking all things loose-leaf tea and the things I prefer for sampling and drinking it!
In a word: flavor! When you purchase loose-leaf tea, you are getting the whole leaf, which means you are getting all the oils and aroma the tea has to offer which translates into a robust, rich, flavorful brew.
You know how nobody wants to finish that last little bit of cereal because there is only dust and shards left? The same goes for tea. Commercial tea bags are made with broken tea leaves and leftover dust. Not only do you lose quality and taste, but broken tea leaves release more tannin (what makes some tea bitter tasting). The way that most tea bags are shaped also hinders the transference of flavor. You will notice that bagged loose tea usually comes in a pyramid-shaped sachet which allows the tea to steep properly.
Plethora is the word that comes to mind when describing the number of tea varieties on a loose-leaf tea menu.
It’s fun to try different teas, but can be overwhelming and expensive if you get something you don’t enjoy. Two pieces of advice: start with what you know you like first and ask for samples of teas you want to try so you can venture into the unknown.
Many of my current favorites are the result of sampling. Most tea shops have samples already packaged and if they don’t, will happily prepare a sample for you upon request.
An advantage to frequent moves and vacations: discovering shops and restaurants that become favorite haunts. I stumbled on one of my favorite places to buy tea while attending a wedding in Boulder: KuCha House of Tea. From personalized customer service, quick order turnaround, and slick efficient packaging to the variety and quality of the teas, there is nothing not to love about this shop.
Another favorite was recommended to me by a fellow tea fan: The Tea Spot. They are my go-to for loose leaf teas, and they bag them which makes it really easy to take to work.
The most important consideration for storing your loose-leaf tea is that it be airtight. You can accomplish that with many materials: tin, ceramic, or glass will work. However, if you do use glass and it’s not dark glass, store it in the pantry or a drawer so light exposure doesn’t degrade your tea.
I use tins. I buy them in bulk from Amazon, and they are easy to store, label, clean, and reuse.
Just like tea varieties, diffusing methods are also varied and plentiful. Diffusers come in all shapes and sizes and can be practical, portable, or whimsical. It’s another area where your personal preference comes into play. Here is a picture of my favorite diffusers, but there are tons of options out there!
Not only is it summer, but many people only drink cold tea. You can easily make iced tea with your favorite loose leaf tea blends. Whether you brew it hot or cold, it is always refreshing and delicious. I do both with equal success.
Here is an after shot of cold-brew tea. I put it in the refrigerator in the evening, and it’s ready to drink in the morning.