Host : Don Mei
Twitter : https://twitter.com/chinalife_uk
[0:00] Don Mei : Hey tea-heads! This is Don from Mei Leaf ( https://teatipsy.com ). In this video, “Tea bags Vs. Loose Leaf Tea – The Taste Test”, I’m going to be brewing up some green tea from a tea bag, and some loose leaf green tea, and we’re going to taste the difference. This video is going to go under the “Basic Tea Education” playlist :
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Okay. So the more eagle-eyed viewer amongst you will realize that I’m not sitting in front of my usual desk in London. I have relocated. I’m on holiday at the moment, and we are in beautiful Mazunte in Oaxaca. Behind me is Mermejita beach. It’s a stunning, stunning location. You can hear the wildlife around me. It’s a beautiful place. We’ve been here for a few days,and we have been exploring the delights of mexico, and believe me, there are plenty. There is plenty to explore.
[1:00] But one of the annoying things about Mexico is that they are a real coffee-drinking country, and they don’t have much good quality tea. So, obviously I’ve brought my own, and today what we want to do is I [just] want to show you how easy and convenient it is, when you’re traveling, to still brew loose leaf tea. So we’re going to do a taste test between a [tea bag] green tea and a loose leaf. Now, this tea bag green tea is, honestly, a very high quality, compared to your, kind of, standard green tea tea bags. So I’ve tried to find a decent rival to battle against the loose leaf tea. I’m not going to mention brand names, but this is a very well-respected tea bag brand, and it’s an organic green tea. So, I’m going to try and do a very fair taste test. I’m going to try and get the best out of this tea bag as I possibly can, and the best out of this green tea.
[2:02] So, the comparison. This is – I don’t know where it’s from, because it doesn’t give me an origin; which is one of the annoying things about tea bag tea, generally. So this is a green tea. I’m assuming it’s from China. This here is a White Money, or a [“Fai Mao Ho”/], which is from Fujian province, in Taimu mountain. So, I’ve intentionally picked a green tea which is more of a, kind of, everyday green tea, an affordable everyday green tea, rather than a super high premium green tea, because that wouldn’t be a fair comparison. So, hopefully, we’re going to get a fair comparison here.
So, quickly, the reasons why I personally don’t like tea bags; the first reason is the quality of the leaf. It’s probably machine picked, and that means that you are not getting the same level of accuracy, in terms of choosing which leaves and buds are going to be part of your tea. So twigs, insects, etc. can be picked up in the machine, and it’s all mulched up and turned into a powder, so you wouldn’t know the difference.
[3:07] There are some HORRIBLE YouTube videos out there of people opening tea bags, and finding insects, and finding worms. I might put a link in the description below so you cans ee. But it goes to show that you don’t really know what you’re getting. When I travel around to purchase tea from the tea mountains of China and Taiwan, I do regularly see tea manufacturers sweeping the floors of the factory, and making big bags of tea dust which they then sell to tea bag companies. So, really, you’ve got either sweepings, or you’ve got machine-picked tea, which you don’t really know what’s in it. So the quality of the actual contents makes a big difference.
The second thing about tea bags which I find makes it inferior to loose leaf is the fact that it’s turned into a powder. If it’s turned into a powder it has a very large surface area, and so it brews very quickly – which is one of the reasons why people like tea bags, because it’s very quick brewing. But the problem with that is that it releases all of the astringency, and the tannic notes, much faster than if you’re brewing loose leaf. So it’s much more likely that you’ll get a very bitter brew.
[4:26] Also, you can’t do multiple infusions of a tea bags. You can, but generally all of the flavor is released in the first infusion. So you can’t do multiple infusion, which anybody who likes tea, and enjoys the Chinese way of drinking tea specifically, enjoys the fact that every infusion has a different flavor.
So, quality, you don’t know what’s in the bag. Brewing, very large surface area [that] doesn’t allow for multiple infusions. Finally, appreciation. There’s no comparison between something hidden in a tea bag, like this, and actually looking at proper loose leaf tea. It’s not just for looks, but it’s also a great way of looking at quality, and understanding a direct lineage from the leaf to the field. You see how it was picked, you see which part of the plant was picked. So it gives you such a greater understanding and appreciation of the actual leaf that you are drinking.
[5:29] Okay. So, we’re going to brew these now. I’m going to brew them at different times, because I’m very conscious of the fact [that] this is going to brew a lot quicker than this. As I said, one of the annoying things about traveling is not having your tea with you, but I just want to show you how convenient it is. So this is a very simple basket brewer. We sell some [Fenum?] basket brewers – really high quality [Fenum?] basket brewers. Again, I’ll put the link in the description below. This is very similar. This is from japan. All you do is take your basket brewer, put it in your cup, and pour in your leaf. So if you compare this with this there’s really not much difference in terms of convenience. So the idea that loose leaf tea is inconvenient is not true at all.
[6:20] I’ve got water here which is not boiling. This is about 85 degree. So again, [I’m] wanting to make sure I’m going to get the best out of both of these. So I’m going to pour into here first, I’m not going to do a rinse. I know that this will take about 30 seconds to brew, and I’m going to pour the same temperature water in the tea bag and maybe give it a little bit less – 10 to 15 seconds – because I just want to make sure that I don’t brew it too strong. Okay, so we’re going to pull the camera around, and you’re going to see the difference.
[7:12] Here we are. These are the two different teas. This one here is the loose leaf tea, and this one is the tea bag. So you can immediately see the difference in the color and the clarity. This one here is much greener, much more clear – translucent – whereas the tea bag one is much more cloudy, and is almost a, kind of, orange color, which is a bit strange. But it goes to show that this [tea’s] leaf has been oxidized more in the processing of the tea, which it shouldn’t be for green tea. But as I said, because this is machine-picked, and the quality is going to be lower, the leaf may have been damaged along the processing pathway, and therefore has oxidized slightly. So you can see here, this is what I’m talking about in terms of tea appreciation. That’s not very pretty, and doesn’t really give you much information.
[8:08] Whereas this here – let me see if I can pick – let’s you see exactly what you’re drinking. So this is the bud and the first leaf. So you know the picking of this tea is a bud and one leaf. So here you have – let’s see if I can show it to you a bit clearer – a bud in one leaf. It just lets you really visually see the quality of the tea you’re drinking, so you can really appreciate, visually, the difference between loose leaf and this horrible mulch here, which is tea bag tea. Right. What matters most though is taste. So we’re going to taste.
[8:53] Okay. So let’s taste. So this is the loose leaf tea… a lovely, everyday green tea.It’s got quite a juicy mouthfeel, so it’s making my mouth produce saliva. It has the smokiness that comes from a wok pan-fired green tea. [It’s] very gentle. It’s a lovely, everyday Fujianese green tea, [with] nothing spectacular about it. It has good minerality, so it’s got a nice kind of mineral-rock taste… high notes nice and vibrant, and a lovely, juicy mouthfeel. So, a lovely, everyday green tea.
Now the tea bag green tea is very, very different. First of all it has a really sour taste, which is a bit strange. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s quite sour. It’s also much drier. So it’s got a lot of astringency. I brewed it, actually, quite well, so it’s not too bitter, but it’s very dry, very astringent, [and] really giving me a kind of choking sensation in the mouth… And just very stewed and old tasting.
[10:12] I guess one of the things about powdered tea is, because it’s got a larger surface area, it will age a lot quicker. So it loses vibrancy and freshness a lot quicker. I’m not sure how old this tea is. Again, it’s not really batch-numbered, so that’s one of the other disadvantages of tea bagged tea. It just tastes old. It tastes stewed. It tastes sour, It just doesn’t taste nice at all, and I really did try to brew it properly…
So a world of difference. Oh! a world of difference; much smoother, much cleaner, much brighter – just enjoyable. This is a green tea. I wouldn’t call this a green tea. I don’t know what you would call this. But this is meant to be a very high quality, organic, green tea tea bag.
[11:00] So, there you go. The difference in taste is very clear. The distance, visually, is very clear. And I hope you can see how convenient it is to brew loose leaf tea, even on holiday. Okay? That’s it tea-heads. If you made it to the end of this video then please give the video the thumbs-up. Check out our playlists:
and let us know if there are any videos that you would like us to make. If you’re ever in London then come visit us in Camden to say “Hi”, and taste our wares. If you have any questions or comments please fire them over. Other than that, I’m Don Mei from Mei Leaf. Thank you for being a part of the revelation of true tea. Stay away from the tea bags, keep drinking the good stuff, and spread the word – because nobody deserves bad tea. Bye.