So what is the difference between loose tea and tea bags? Loose tea is mainly the full tea leaves or at least larger pieces while tea bags use smaller pieces of leaves and “dust”. In the factory where they roast and prepare the loose tea, the pieces that break off are swept up and used for teabags. You will get more full-bodied flavor from the full leaves vs the pieces. In fact, some leaves have so much flavor, you can brew them multiple times. Tea needs space to expand while brewing to get the best flavor and bags can limit that. The essential oils you find in tea leaves start to evaporate in the smaller pieces. Both types take about the same time to brew.
Tea will start losing flavor after 6 months and can go stale at about a year. You should store in tin canisters to keep them fresh longer.