The History of Loose Leaf Tea

loose leaf tea & strainer

British culture has become synonymous with tea drinking. It’s a drink that millions of Brits enjoy drinking each day.

But how did tea become so popular in the UK?

Well there is an interesting backstory as to how loose leaf tea rose to the height of consumption that it experiences now.

Let’s dive into the origins of tea, how it made its way to the UK and some of the early teas that are still around to this day.

The Origins of Loose Leaf Tea

Tea has been drunk in China for thousands of years…there’s even tea tea that can be traced back to 2700 BC.

It was a popular drink that was used for medicinal purposes but the first documented accounts for planting, processing and drinking tea can be dated to around 350 CE.

Throughout the years, tea started to leave China and be processed in other countries like Japan in the 13th century. Then the Dutch brought the first batch of tea to Europe in 1610.

When did Loose Leaf Tea Come to the UK?

Tea from China started to make its way to market stalls in London in 1669. It then started to become more popular when British estates in India started to grow tea plants.

The British Empire was vast and it started trading tea on a global scale due to its demand and popularity. 

In the early days tea was a luxury only available to those who were wealthy. Now it is available across the globe at very low cost.

loose leaf tea on a spoon

What Were the Early Loose Leaf Teas?

Nowadays there are many different types of teas and flavours thanks to technological advancements and science. 

There are practically endless flavours of tea available. This wasn’t always the case but there are a selection of teas that have been around since tea first started to be consumed. 

Green Tea

All green tea originates from the same species of plant, but there are many varieties of green tea that are produced all over the world including in countries such as India, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan and USA.

Green tea is processed by taking the leaves and heating them up using steam or a pan, then they are left out to dry. This prevents them from oxidising much.  

Some of our more popular loose leaf green teas include baked apple, cherry blossom, fairy wings, moroccan mint and spiced green tea

Black Tea

Black tea and green tea originate from the same plant, but what determines whether they are green or black is the way they are processed. 

Unlike in green tea, the leaves are left to oxidise before they are heat treated and dried. This changes the tea leaf on a molecular level, altering the taste and colour significantly. 

We have a wide range of black loose leaf tea that has a variety of tastes including autumn fire, butter truffle, coffee walnut cake, english breakfast and fruit cake

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea dates back to the Ming Dynasty in China and is also known as ‘black dragon tea’. 

Oolong tea is made from the same leaves as green and black tea. Where Oolong tea differs is that it is partially fermented. Doing this gives Oolong tea a taste that is somewhere in between green and black tea.

Our store is home to a rich and nutty Oolong tea, making it an enjoyable beverage for tea lovers the world over. 

Rooibos tea

Rooibos tea is relatively new compared to its Chinese counterpart, but it has grown in popularity over the years and is now widely available across the world. It has only started to be sold commercially as a tea since around the 1930’s.

It is made from a herb that is native to South Africa and it gives off a reddish-brown colour. Rooibos is a herb, therefore it is completely caffeine free, making it a popular alternative to caffeinated tea. 

Rooibos is a popular tea that we sell. It has a wide range of flavours available including berry, mango, vanilla and orange

loose leaf tea in a pot

Continuing the History of Loose Leaf Tea

As you can see, loose leaf tea has been around for a very long time and we’re proud to champion the cause! So, whether you’re a seasoned tea drinker, a complete beginner or you want to buy wholesale tea, we have the perfect loose leaf tea for you to enjoy.

Contact us today and find which loose leaf tea you would like to brew!