An Introduction to Tea

Technically all tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. “Teas” that do not come from Camellia Sinensis are called Tisanes, but most people refer to them simply as herbal teas. See page 20 for our world map of major tea growing regions. Weather, soil, altitude and processing methods after picking the tea leaves all contribute to taste and color characteristics.

Because the tea plant has a natural ability to adapt to local growing conditions, and can be hybridized very easily, there have been over 3000 varietals developed worldwide. Cultivated tea plants are usually trimmed to waist height so that the leaves can be easily harvested, but wild tree plants can grow into huge trees up to 100 feet in height. 

Tea starts out the same, but the various was of processing tea will determine what type it will become. The major categories of tea are black, green, oolong, white and pu-erh. The main difference between these teas are their oxidation periods (sometimes called fermentation - however pu-erh is the only true fermented tea). Tea will turn color just like when a piece of fruit is exposed to air. White and green tea undergo little to no oxidation, black tea is fully oxidized while oolong is somewhere in between.

Health Benefits

In recent years a number of major clinical and laboratory studies in the United States and abroad have shown that tea consumption—especially of loose teas—has significant benefit to the health of prostate glands, bones, skin, teeth and gums, hearts, help block allergic responses, boost metabolisms and aid in weight loss, delay the onset of diabetes and protect against Parkinson’s Disease—the list goes on and on.  You’ll find much more health related information about each specific tea type throughout this catalog.

Why loose tea?

What goes into most tea bags is nothing more than left over dust after sorting. Loose tea contains more natural oils. These essential oils give tea its flavor and health benefits – both of which make loose tea the superior choice. Dust also tends to become stale quicker and absorbs odors easily.  

Brewing Tea

Using the right tools and following several simple steps, it is very easy to brew the perfect pot of loose tea.
 

Always use quality filtered water to remove trace odors and tastes.

  1. Select a good strainer. While cheap mesh balls might appeal to some just starting out, they greatly limit the ability of the tea leaves to expand properly and prevent water from properly circulating. A large infuser basket style is our recommended choice. Many of our teapots come with an infuser basket.
  2. You’ll need a kettle or electric water boiler
  3. Since not all teas prefer boiling water, a thermometer will come in handy to measure the temperature before brewing. After a while you will be able to ‘feel’ out the temperature by listening to your kettle or watching the steam rise. High end electric boilers allow you to automatically set temperatures.
  4. Each tea is labeled with instructions. Use that as your starting guide and adjust amounts to taste.
  5. Always measure your tea and pour the water OVER the tea to properly agitate the tea leaves.

 

Caffeine Content Comparisons

The following is the
approximate caffeine content of various beverages

Milligrams of Caffeine

Item

Average
per
serving

Range

Per
ounce*

Coffee (5 oz. cup)

80

40 - 170

16.00

Cola (12 oz. can)

45

30 - 60

3.75

Black/Pu-Erh Tea*

40

25 - 110

5.00

Oolong Tea*

30

12 - 55

3.75

Green Tea*

20

8 - 30

2.50

White Tea*

15

6 - 25

2.00

Decaf Tea*

2

1 - 4

0.50

Herbal Tea*

0

0

0.00

*Assumes 6 ounces of water per tea spoon