Relaxing with a cup of perfect loose leaf

Photo courtesy of http://factoidz.com

With the frigid temperatures of Meadville and the emergence of hard work on the horizon here at Allegheny, it has become increasingly difficult to relax for even a few moments.

With relaxation comes watching TV, surfing the Internet or simply spending time amongst friends. Though these techniques are all fantastic in their own right, more and more students can be seen relaxing with a nice cup of tea.

Whether it be the Harney and Sons they get from McKinley’s or their own bags of Lipton, it is clear that tea is becoming a hot item around campus.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly pleased by this transformation. Yet I can’t help but be a bit disappointed in the poor tea choices by many of my peers.

Now,just as a disclaimer, I’m not “bashing” anybody’s flavor choice when it comes to tea; drink what you like! However, I am saying that drinking only bagged tea is the equivalent to drinking instant coffee rather than fresh, ground–up coffee beans; the difference is tremendous.

Loose leaf tea is the real deal, plain and simple.

What one gets in a tea bag are the leftovers or “fannings” of higher quality (but not necessarily higher priced) teas that are a much fuller leaf, which are bursting with flavor.

Tea bags tend to be low quality because loose leaf is seldom available in most supermarkets and consumers are not aware of anything better.

For example, if I went to Wal*Mart or Giant Eagle right now, I am positive that loose leaf would not be available for sale. One might argue that loose leaf can be too expensive, but from my experiences, boxes of bagged tea and tins of fresh, loose leaf tea are incredibly similar in price than one might think. Also, tea bags contain many unhealthy artificial fruit flavors that can taste bland or, well, fake.

Loose leaf teas usually incorporate real, dried fruit in them, which enhances the flavor and actually tastes right!

You may be asking, “But Pat, if it’s not available where can I get it?”

Good question.

There are ridiculous amounts of suppliers online who have thousands of different loose leaf teas to choose from. (A few are Adagio Tea, Cha Cha Tea and Teavana.) The prices are competitive with the flavorless bagged teas and the taste is exponentially better. The only downside is that you will need a teapot or an infuser (see IngenuiTEA on Adagio.com) to properly prepare it.

Though you’ll have to shell out a few more bucks for a steeping device it’s a great investment in the long run, and you will expand your palate with the variety of teas you try.

If you have any questions or need any help with anything tea, send me an email: [email protected] or send me a tweet @pcanella and @teacast.

Pat Canella’s Tea Column will be available every week at www.alleghenycampus.com

Photo courtesy of http://teacast.net