1Tea chiefly composed of loose whole leaves as opposed to tea in powdered, compressed, or brick form, considered to be of a superior quality. Also in later use more generally: tea stored loose and sold in a carton or other container rather than in individual tea bags; loose tea.
2A drink made from tea of this type.
3A drink made from the infused leaves of plants other than tea, especially as considered to have medicinal properties.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Asiatic Journal & Monthly Register. From leaf + tea, originally after Chinese yèchá.