Let's start with the Basics: Where Does Tea Come From?
Tea originated in the Yunnan Province of China during the Shang Dynasty, primarily as a medicinal drink. Historic records of tea drinking have been dated back to the 3rd century AD. Tea spread to Japan in the 6th century and it wasn’t until the 17th century that tea became popular in Britain.
All true teas come from the camellia sinensis plant. There are 3 factors that determine the characteristics of any tea. They are:
· The specific variety or cultivar of the camellia sinensis plant.
· The way the leaves are processed.
· The terroir in which the plants are grown.
Did you Know there are 4 Types of Tea?
White Tea – non-oxidized; leaves are dried without any manipulation of the tea leaf; least-processed of all tea; usually characterized by the pluck, 2 leaves and a bud.
Green Tea – non-oxidized; green color is preserved when the leaves are heated (to take out the bitter taste); sun and shade-grown.
Oolong Tea – light to heavy oxidation; leaves are slowly rolled and bruised during the rolling and shaping process.
Black Tea – heavily oxidized; usually categorized by their country of origin (the countries that produce the most black tea are India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya).
What about Herbal Teas?
The term “herbal tea” is a misnomer! Anything that is not from the camellia sinensis plant is not “tea”. These beverages are more accurately called herbal infusions or tisanses.
Herbs, flowers, and fruit are used to make hot and cold drinks and can also be added to tea to add flavors or to scent the tea.
Now Let's Talk about Preparing Tea in 3 Easy Steps
(1) Leaf to Water Ratio
The general rule is 1 teaspoon of tea to 8 ounces of water. 1 teaspoon is usually about 2 grams of tea. Now, it is important to know that each tea leaf is processed in its own unique way which means that not all tea is equal in how much goes into a teaspoon. Some teas are light and fluffy, think of Mandarin Chamomile and White Rose Mint. Some are heavy and dense, think of Hot Cinnamon Spice. And some teas meet the standard 2 grams = 1 teaspoon, like Shalimar and Berry Wellness.
The amount of tea you use is what controls the strength or flavor of your tea. We recommend that initially, you follow the guidelines we provide. Then, once you’ve tasted the tea, consider if you would like more flavor (more tea) or less flavor (less tea).
(2) Water Temperature
The temperature of the water controls the bitterness, or more accurately the astringency, of your tea. Think of your tea like your favorite beer brew. Tea, like beer, has a natural bitterness or astringency that is part of its flavor profile. So, when you think of your palate, consider “what is my tolerance or enjoyment of bitterness?” Your answer to that question will help influence the kind of tea that you enjoy and will help you decide at what temperature to brew your tea. Once you’ve enjoyed your tea, following the Tea Market guidelines, know that your water temperature can be adjusted to add more astringency to the tea’s flavor.
The standard Water Temperatures* are:
Oolong 170° or 195° (lightly oxidized or deeply oxidized)
*Use your thermometer to check the temperature of your water and if it’s too hot just add cold water to lower the temperature.
(3) Steeping Time
Steeping time, how long the tea stays in the water, also controls astringency (bitterness) and the intensity of flavor. So if you like a light, sweet flavor, significantly shorten the steeping time, even as short as 1 minute, to achieve a delicate cup. If you like a full-bodied flavor, steep for a longer time.
The standard Steeping Times are:
Herbal 3-6 minutes normally 4 minutes
White 2-5 minutes normally 3 minutes
Green 1-3 minutes normally 3 minutes
Oolong 2-4 minutes normally 3 minutes
Black 3-5 minutes normally 4 minutes
How Much Should I Purchase?
We sell our teas by the ounce starting at 1 ounce and going all the way up to 16 ounces. An ounce is about 10 to 14 teaspoons and makes about 5 to 7 cups of tea. Our teas are shipped in foil ziploc bags. We also sell 2, 4 and 8 ounces medical grade tins that are a perfect way to store your teas.
How Long Does Tea Last
When tea leaves are kept in a container free from light, air, and moisture, green and white tea will stay fresh for 6 months and black teas and herbals for a year. The tea won't ever go "bad" but after that time you might notice a slight reduction in flavor.
And that's it. Now it's time to pick out your favorite teas and try a cup! If you have any questions feel free to call, 816.822.9832, or come by and see us. We're always happy to answer your questions and share our love of tea with you.