International Tea Day: Decoding the difference between whole leaf tea and dust tea

Dust tea is generally better if tea or tea latte needs to be prepared quickly.

International tea day 2022
A staple in Indian households, tea is a must-have drink in the evening and the morning. (Pixabay)

Tea, as a beverage, has many takers across the world. In India, however, it is considered as an emotion, an important part of the country’s culinary culture.

A staple in Indian households, tea is a must-have drink in the evening and the morning. On International Tea Day — observed on May 21, according to the United Nations — here is a look at the difference between dust tea and whole-leaf tea and which is better.

The Tea Heaven founder Harshada Bansal told The Indian Express that tea came in two varieties: tea bags and loose leaves. While most prefer traditional leaf-infused tea, some people prefer tea bags as it required less effort. Each person has a different perspective on how to make the perfect cup, she said.

Explaining the difference between the two, Bansal said dust tea was the lowest grading of tea, gathered from the crushing of broken leaves, leaving only small tea particles. Tea bags often contain tea dust and its flavour usually does not last over repeated steepings.

The term ‘whole leaf tea’, Bansal said, referred to tea prepared from intact, undamaged leaves. Tea bags, known as dust and fannings, are little tea leaves designed to be brewed quickly. The tea produced by this brew is more likely to be rich and flavourful since a whole leaf has a bigger surface area.

Bansal added that in general, whole leaf tea had a lot more taste than dust tea. Full leaf teas are more complex and subtle than loose leaf teas. Even bold, strong teas like breakfast blends have more depth of flavour, she said. In comparison, tea bags can appear one-note and boring. She added that there was nothing wrong with drinking tea from a bag, but loose-leaf tea was better for those who liked tea.

The tea expert, however, concluded that it only depended on specific needs. Dust tea is generally better if tea or tea latte needs to be prepared quickly. Whole leaf tea is nearly always ideal if the health benefits, taste, flavour profiles, value for money, and quality while reducing waste or blending with sugar and milk is the preferred choice, she said.

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