The black tea is sold in a crumbled form. I am yet to see a brand, where I live, selling black tea as whole leaves.

I want to know why is that so? Does crumbled leaves have effect on taste which whole leaves don't have?

This issue is only with the black tea, not with the green tea.

What's the deal here?

  • 2
    The whole leaves are likely sieved out and sold separately at a premium. Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 9:56
  • @rackandboneman : or to put it another way, it allows them to sell what would otherwise be considered waste in the processing of whole leaves.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 12:58

3 Answers 3


Whole leaf black tea is available, but because it has to be processed by hand it is expensive. Twinings whole leaf black tea is roughly 50 cents per teabag as opposed to the equivalent processed tea bags at about 8 cents.

To make black tea, the leaves are wilted and processed by various methods - none of the mechanical methods will produce whole leaf tea.


Top tier Indian / Sri Lankan black tea is always whole leaf. I would argue that a top tier broken orange pekoe easily trounces any OP1, but broken teas tend to be much more bitter than similarly ranked unbroken ones.

Meanwhile Chinese black teas are virtually always sold whole leaf (e.g. http://www.teavivre.com/black-tea/). On the other hand, there's a long tradition of ground grean tea in Chinese / Japanese tea culture. During Tang and Song dynasty virtually all tea was ground and matcha is still very popular today.

So I think it's mostly down to tradition. As for why, I can only guess that with the more intense, full-bodied flavours of Indian black teas the bitterness and "dustiness" due to broken leaves isn't that noticable.


Tea in crumbled form is also known as CTC tea, and are mainly used for tea bags. By crushing the leaves, more tea will fit in a bag, and the tea will release flavor faster than whole leaf teas.

Whole leaf teas, on the other hand, are often more expensive and higher grade. They're more often presented in loose leaf as they need more space to expand and properly infuse.

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