Loose Leaf Tea Snob or Mindfully Aware?




I forget sometimes when I tell someone I am a tea lover, that I need to specify that I am a LOOSE LEAF tea lover. That's because many people will think I'm talking about a name-brand black tea bag that comes in a box found at every grocery store. It's no wonder they can't understand why I'm so crazy-bananas-over-the-moon-passionate about tea! 

Ahhh, yes, loose leaf tea is a world apart from what you'll find in a tea bag. It is loose leaf tea that helped me discover mindfulness decades ago. Before that, I had been drinking from tea bags but never felt inspired to slow down in the authentic way that loose leaf tea invites. 

Just today a friend alerted me to a wellness power couple launching their own line of mindfulness teas. Very exciting! Because of their platform, people are signing up by the thousands day after day to learn more. I was curious, so I tuned into a live video of theirs when I saw it flash across my phone. I congratulated them in the comments and listened carefully to learn more. The packaging was so fun & beautiful! I REALLY liked it! But there was a lot of it, just to get to the tea. Hmmmm. And then it turns out that the tea being offered is via tea bag. That was when the record scratched for me. 

They said they wanted to be able to offer something tangible to go with mindfulness and tea seemed to be the perfect thing. I would agree, tea is the perfect pairing with mindfulness, but tea bags and heavy packaging are anything but mindful. There was a beautifully printed box, and inserts, and individually printed & wrapped tea bags. Besides all the exterior packaging, tea bags are not great for the environment on their own accord. They are full of glue, bleaches, chemicals & nano-plastics (if the silk pyramid type) and if paper & bleach-free, they still waste trees. Both types of bags create waste. Don't get me wrong, tea bags have their place when convenience & speed are needed, but this is not what comes to mind when I think of "mindfulness". And to sell it that way, doesn't align for me. 

I am thrilled that this couple will turn more people onto tea and slowing down, but also sad that their presentation is full of waste and even though I haven't tried it, subpar tea. How can I say that without trying it? Because whole leaf tea doesn't fit into a small industriously produced tea bag. Instead you'll find tiny bits of tea and tea dust. Good for one steeping. Not so flavorful after that. I obviously won't be a customer, although I'm sure millions will because in our society we love celebrities and want what they promote.

So what is the alternative? I sincerely hope more people will experience really good, authentic tea. Loose leaf tea, grown, harvested & processed on tea farms with care, where human beings are paid fairly and directly, that sort of thing. Once you've tried it, you don't want to go back. It tastes better because it is better. Added flavors aren't needed because true tea is much like wine. It's full of complex, truly natural flavors due to the many variables such as terroir, season, cultivar, and processing. It's an entirely different world and this kind of tea allows you to easily engage your five senses. You have to slow down as you make it. It's not boiling water & plunking in a tea bag.  

With loose leaf tea, you interact with the leaves, seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, tasting - all while you steep the tea and then as you sip it. The dry leaves call to you, the wet leaves draw you closer, inviting you to take in their comforting aroma. You watch the dance of the tea leaves in the hot water and you witness a transformation right before your eyes as the water turns to tea. You take your time and sit with the tea in quiet contemplation or intimate conversation as you re-steep the same tea leaves again & again. On the surface, loose leaf tea might seem more expensive, but it's still pennies per cup when you look at the quality and how many steepings you get from one spoonful.

Loose leaf is also the mindful choice because when you are done steeping it, you can add it to your garden or compost. It's friendly to our planet. No chemicals are used in paper manufacturing, no tree/paper waste is created with each cup. There are no nasty nano plastics from a silk pyramid tea bag. No tea bag, string, label, & wraper. Just pure loose leaf leaf. Just pure joy.

Today I was reminded of what most people picture when they think of tea: the tea bag. We have a lot of work to do, my friends. Since I communicate with a lot of tea lovers, I forget that loose leaf tea is still a bit niche. Let's not be shy to share the wonders of real loose leaf tea, how accessible and easy it is to enjoy, and why we choose it over the tea bag.  And if it is mindfulness we seek through tea, for heaven's sake, let's properly slow down and get loose!

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