There is an amazing difference between the tea that is sold in grocery stores and the tea that you can purchase online.
Here's a crash-course in loose-leaf tea:
Grocery stores tend to sell teabags. The tea filling teabags is what's known as "fannings" or "tea dust." This is, quite literally, bottom-of-the-barrel tea. The flavor tends to be dull and flat and is often quite stale.
Tea that you can purchase online is generally sold loose-leaf (although you can buy more upscale teabags and whole-leaf bagged tea). It's much more fresh - you'll be able to tell the difference immediately.
Your homework (my suggestion to you) is to brew a cup of your regular bagged tea and then to try a sample of a quality loose-leaf tea (such as Adagio's Ceylon Sonata
). Drink these side-by-side and you'll see for yourself the difference in taste and quality.
To prepare loose-leaf tea, you'll need the following:
- one cup water
- a strainer
- one tsp. of loose-leaf tea leaves
Bring a cup of water to a boil. Place one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea leaves into a liquid measuring cup; fill the measuring cup to the one-cup mark. Allow to steep for five minutes. After steeping, pour the liquid through a strainer into a mug (thereby filtering out the leaves).
It's very important that you steep for no more or less than five minutes - any less, and you won't get the full flavor of the tea; any more and the tea can oversteep, becoming bitter.
Most tea connoisseurs balk at the idea of sugar and milk/cream in tea; however, if that's how you prefer it, go ahead! (That's how I was raised drinking black tea and I've never shed the habit.)
Good luck, and I hope this was helpful!