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Beyond the teabag: why whole leaf tea is better

There are many great tea related websites on the internet, the team at Wan Ling Tea House enjoy reading and often engaging in the chats and discussions. Recently we came across the article Beyond the bag: why whole leaf is better, this statement is very much in line with the philosophy of Wan Ling Tea House, Beyond the tea bag. However, there were some variations between our views and those of the author. It is an interesting subject and we thought we would examine these in an article here.


The real problem with the article is the assumption that all fanning and dust teas are low quality. The sweepings. The reality is that they are not. The world tea market is huge and complex. There are tea types and tea grades to suit any number of uses and tastes. Tea dust and fannings, the result of filtering and sorting. Very much in the same way that Wan Ling Tea House focuses on single estate, single source and single batch whole leaf teas, there are single estate, single batch fannings and dust. The problem is that these are not readily available. What typically happens is that these are blended. Some professionally for premium grade products around the world, others for lower grade products where lower cost tea makes up the bulk of the product.


Fannings and dust are ideal for tea bags as the need is to have a single hit, a single infusion. The large surface area ensures that as much colour and flavour as possible is infused into the water, as quickly as possible. This concept is the same as CTC tea, maximum surface area so that as many as possible of the tea's compounds are extracted as possible.


If you are looking for a hypothetical perfect cup of tea, then tea dust from a top quality batch of tea could be best solution (beyond a scientific process of extraction). However, tea is much more than just a flavoured drink. It is a journey and an experience. It is taking a break. Whether you are going to prepare gonfu tea or are in the office using an infuser tea mug. Looking away from your computer, chatting with friends and loved ones, walking round your garden or spending some time with a favourite pet.   


Loose leaf tea rewards you with multiple infusions. Each with a slight variation. Whole loose leaf tea is admiring the tea leaves that have been prepared by hand using skills passed down from generation to generation. Gaining an understanding of lives thousands of miles away. A connection. Appreciating the differences season to season, the terroir - the weather, the soil and much more. Whole leaf tea is about exploring and enjoying variations that occur.


Tea bags are a part of our modern world. Standardised. They are successful because people buy them. You have to admire the tea tasters that take hundreds of teas and blend to fit a very specific taste and colour profile that has to be adhered to. Has to be reproduced year in year out. 


Nonetheless there is so much more beyond the tea bag. However you enjoy your tea, do just that enjoy.


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