alive logo

Whole Leaf Tea

The brewing basics


Whole Leaf Tea

Tea is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in North America.

Tea is one of the most commonly consumed beverages, with more than 127 million people enjoying a cup or two every day in North America. Every household has its favourite way of making tea. But there’s more to your cuppa than just leaves and boiling water.

The main difference between loose teas and bagged teas is the size of the leaves. Loose-leaf tea is not packaged in individual bags or sachets. The loose, unbound steeping of tea leaves allows them to fully unfurl during infusion, resulting in a richer, fuller flavour.

Whole leaf versus tea bags

Whole leaf brewing results in higher grade, better-tasting tea. The tea found in sachets is a very fine, small cut of larger tea leaves. The tea leaves are cut so that they fit into the bag; this offers a quicker infusion but does not allow the leaves to fully unfurl and release all of their flavour.

Many tea lovers find the process of making whole leaf tea a vital part of the tea experience. They enjoy scooping out the fragrant leaves, having more control over the infusion process, and blending the various flavours of tea.

Health benefits

Rich in antioxidants, tea fortifies the immune system and helps defend the body against the ravages of disease and environmental stress. Antioxidants may help prevent cancers of the mouth, stomach, pancreas, lungs, esophagus, colon, breast, and prostate.

Cooking with tea

Cooking with tea is as old as the history of tea itself. Dried tea leaves, particularly the young and green variety, add crunch and flavour to rubs for coating fish and garnishes for meat or poultry. Brewed tea can be used as a braising liquid or as a seasoning in marinades. Try adding a small handful of tea leaves to cream sauces for a lovely, herbaceous flavour. Whether you brew your whole leaf tea loose or in bags, drink in the full-bodied, antioxidant-rich infusion that is not only good for you but that also tastes great.

Did you know?

  • The antioxidants in a single cup of tea equal those in one serving of vegetables. 
  • Population health studies link drinking tea to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Tea contains one-third less caffeine than coffee or cola and is both fat and calorie free.


Brain Storm

Brain Storm

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNMMichelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM