- + About the Tea Bush
- + Tea Production
- + Key Elements to Analyzing Tea
- + A closer look at each tea type
- + Tea at Home
- - Storage
- - Preparation - Brewing
- - The perfect brew
- - Iced Tea
- - Tasting Glossary
- - Brewing Equipment
- + Tea & Health
- + Brewing Equipment
The tea plant, camellia sinensis, is indigenous to China, Tibet, and Northern India.
There are actually two types of tea plants:
- Camelia Sinensis: Origin-China. Prefers colder climates and higher altitudes. Average height is approximately 16 feet- considered a bush.
- Camelia Sinensis Assamica: Origin-India. Prefers hotter and more humid weather. Average height can reach up to 52 feet- considered a tree.
Anatomy of a Tea Plant
All tea comes from one plant called Camelia Sinensis. Any other leaf that comes from a different plant is considered an “Herbal Tea” or “Tisane.”
There are four types of teas: White, Green, Oolong, and Black.
The difference between them is determined by the way in which the leaf is processed after being picked. The most significant step in this process is oxidation- the amount of time a leaf is exposed to the air after the leaves have been rolled.
To initiate oxidation, fresh tealeaves are rolled (either by hand or machine) Rolling causes the leaves’ membrane to break and release enzymes and oils that interact with the air- giving the complexities of different characteristics.
Black tea is fully oxidized, oolong tea is partially oxidized and green and white teas are unoxidized. Generally speaking, the less a tea is oxidized, the lighter it will be in both taste and aroma. Heavily oxidized teas will yield a dark, rich, reddish-brown infusion while less oxidized teas will yield a light, yellow-green liquor.
By selectively exposing the tealeaves to oxygen, tea producers can bring out certain flavors and aromas. In other words, the oxidation process will determine many of the tea’s flavor characteristics as well as whether the tea will be categorized as white, green, oolong or black.
Oxidation is stopped by heating either through steaming or firing.
Any leaf, root, fruit or flower that comes from a different plant is considered an herbal tea. It is important to distinguish between real tea and herbal tea since the flavor, health benefits and nutritional characteristics vary from plant to plant.
There are over 2,000 varietals, of the tea plant--accounting for thousands of different types of tea, each with their own unique characteristics and flavor profiles. Like fine wine, tea's flavor is influenced by the tea bush varietal, country of origin, season of harvest, climate, soil, elevation, at what time of day and how it is picked, processing, degree of oxidation, blending, packaging, transportation and storage.
Below is a brief summary of some of the key factors and how they influence the final product.
Teas need mostly sunny weather for best results. In regions with long rainy seasons harvesting takes place only six months of the year.
Altitudes play a significant role in the final characteristics of the teas. The world’s finest teas are grown in the highest altitudes. The reason for this is the cooler temperatures slow the growth of the leaves, which in the process allows for the development of distinctive qualities.
During harvesting, only the top 1-2 inches of the plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called “flushes.” A plant will grow a new flush several times during the growing season – depending on the region teas can be plucked 3-4 times/season. The flavor of the tealeaf changes with each flush throughout the summer and into fall.
- 1st or 2nd flushes produce the best teas because it takes the plant all year to store the proper nutrients to create high quality leaves.
- 3rd and 4rth flushes are usually used for Mass-produced teabags
The leaves used during processing greatly influence both quality and taste. While some tea plantations use machines to assist in manufacturing, the best and most expensive teas are still harvested as they were thousands of years ago—by hand. Tea pickers, carrying straw baskets on their backs, collect each leaf individually from rows of tea plants. Women Harvesting Tea
When evaluating the appearance of the leaf as an indicator of quality, it is important to consider what size, shape and style is appropriate to that specific variety of tea. Some extremely high quality Japanese teas come from tiny, needle-like leaves that half the size of their lower-quality counterparts, which come from larger, older leaves. Also, because some teas are tightly rolled during processing, the actual size of the leaf may not be visible until after it unfurls in hot water.
Also, some teas (often black teas) can be made from broken leaf grades and still be exceptional in quality and flavor. In fact, certain types of tea are purposely broken into small pieces during processing to enhance flavor. The smaller leaf-size allows the water to extract more flavor in a shorter period of time. Broken-leaf teas are not to be confused with "fannings" or "dust" used in common paper tea bags, which consist of the poorest quality tea that becomes stale very quickly due to its powdered consistency and high surface-to-air ration.
Teas are often classified by their estate or region-of-origin. As with fine wine, different regions produce teas with specific flavor profiles and characteristics.
- Today, India is the largest Tea exporter in the world.
- Teas from Darjeeling are considered some of the best in the world. Grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Teas favor quality by fine plucking. First plucking (a.k.a. “Flush”), very light aromatic teas. Second plucking (“Flush”), offers more bite, coppery color and taste of ripe fruit. Tea gardens in this area solicit the same respect as the top vineyards of France.
- Assam is the largest tea growing region in the world.
|Assam||Assam (Black)||Rich, full bodied, malty, and smooth|
|Darjeeling||Darjeeling (Black)||Light and delicate in flavor and aroma with undertones of muscatel the “Champagne of Teas”|
|Nilgiri||Nilgiri (Black)||Popular for blending- robust and smooth|
- Teas grown there bare in the former name of the island: Ceylon
|Ceylon||Ceylon (Black)||Wide range of flavors, aroma, and color. Some full bodied, rich and dark; others brisk, fragrant, and delicate.|
- Teas grown there bare the former name of the island: Formosa
- Produces both black and green but is most famous for the semi-fermented Oolongs. Most popular with the US consumer.
|Formosa||Formosa (Oolong)||Golden Brown colored liquior and slightly woody, nutty flavor.|
|Darjeeling||Jade (Oolong)||Leaning more towards green tea, has tawny infusion with complex, delicate floral aroma.|
- For centuries the only exporter of tea in the world.
- China exports most of its black teas. Green tea is the preferred variety for local consumption.
- China’s finest teas come from the Yunnan Province.
|Fujian||Lapsang Shouchong (Black)||Distinctly smoky aroma and flavor.|
|Jasmin Pearl (Green) Not Exclusive to this region||Tightly rolled fine green leaves and buds infused with the essence of fresh jasmine blossoms. Sweet, smooth, and clean|
|Pai Mutan (White Peony)||Clear, clear pale yellow infusion with a sweet muscatel aroma, velvet smooth sweet and mild flavor with a hint of nuttiness|
|Silver Needle (White)||Pale yellow liquor, very smooth, with a subtle sweetness and extreme elegance|
|Anhuni||Keemun (Black)||Rich brown liquor with a slightly scented nutty flavor.|
|Gun Powder (Green)||Dried leaves are rolled tightly to look like small pellets/gunpowder. Soft honey or coppery liquor with a herb like smooth yet strong flavor.|
|Zheijan||Lung Ching aka Dragon Well (Green)||Clear light yellow-green color. Gives well balanced aroma suggesting freshly cut grass and toasted chestnuts.|
|Yunan||Yunan Black Tea (Black)||Rich malty flavor (similar to Assam). Best with milk.|
- 97 percent of teas consumed locally in Japan.
- Almost half of Japan’s entire tea production is picked in the Shizhuoka region at the foothills of Mt. Fuji- the darker the leaves, the higher the quality.
|Throughout||Sencha (Green)||Pale yellow infusion with light, delicate flavors, reminiscent of freshly mown grass and sea breezes.|
|Gyokuro (Green)||Tightly rolled fine green leaves and buds infused with the essence of fresh jasmine blossoms. Sweet smooth and clean.|
|Matcha (Green)||One of the finest teas in the world. Presented in a finally ground powder form. Smooth and perfect balance between aroma, tastes, and vision-has distinctly grassy flavor.|
|Kukicha||Made from stems and stalks from the leaves of Sencha and Gyokuro, infusion is a pale yellow-green with a clean, sweet, and almost nutty flavors.|
|Genmaicha||Mixture of tea and hulled rice kernels. Gives a bright golden liquor with a nutty slightly savory flavor.|
- Tea growing was introduced by the British Colonials in the 20th century.
- Black teas are presented in small broken leaves but produce tea of high quality of bright color, especially good for blending.
|Kenya Highlands||Non-specific||Bright, rich, colorful infusion with a rich, coppery tint. Pleasant, brisk, and strong flavors.|
Overview on Specific View Types
Color: pale, golden color
Body: Light / Delicate
Palate: soft, subtly sweet, mellow
White teas are regarded as the purest tea variety. Only young buds are picked and are minimally processed, usually being steamed immediately after picking. This minimal process helps preserve the natural health benefits in the plant thus making whites the healthiest of all types. White tea has the highest levels of antioxidants and theanine, a rare amino acid found only in high-quality tea. Antioxidants are believed to maintain health, combat aging and prevent disease. Theanine promotes mental and physical relaxation, improves mood, reduces anxiety, boosts the immune system and increases concentration. White tea also has the lowest caffeine content of all true teas.
Summary of health benefits:
- Very High levels of antioxidants
- Helps slow down natural aging process
- Has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties
- Great for stress relief
Region: Asia, India, Africa and USA
Color: Dark burgundy, vibrant brown
Body: Medium to full
Palate: Brisk, rich and bold flavor
Black teas vary significantly depending on the region they come from. They are the most widely known variety in the West. Black Tea comes from leaves that are fully oxidized which changes the leaf's properties and accounts for the dark, rich colors and strong, brisk flavors characteristic of this tea type. Essentially, it is this oxidation process that makes black tea different from green tea.
The flavor, color, body, strength and aroma of black tea depend on the tea bush varietal, season of harvest, elevation, country of origin, microclimate and degree of oxidation. Black tea is often further divided into broken-leaf and full-leaf categories. A broken-leaf tea consists of leaves that have been purposely broken into small pieces during processing. The smaller size allows the water to extract more of the tealeaves’ components in a short period of time. For this reason, broken leaf teas tend to be more brisk and higher in caffeine, making them an excellent morning tea to be paired with milk and sugar. Full-leaf teas, on the other hand, tend to be more refined and gentler on the palate. Broken-leaf teas are not to be confused with "fannings" or "dust" used in common paper tea bags, which consist of the poorest quality tea that becomes stale very quickly due to its powdered consistency and high surface-to-air ratio.
Summary of health benefits:
- Neutralizes germs and deactivates viruses
- Rich in theaflavins, shown to help Protects against heart disease
- Increases energy levels
- Aids in regulating blood sugars
Region: China, Japan
Color: vibrant green hues
Body: light to medium
Palate: wide range from mellow and sweet, nutty and roasted to slightly vegetal notes
Green Tea is becoming increasingly popular in the US Tea market primarily due to the increased media attention about its many health benefits. As a result of minimal processing, green tea retains its natural appearance as well as high levels of the plant's healthy properties. Green tea is rich in EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) one of nature's most potent antioxidants.
Green teas palate varies so dramatically (grassy and sweet, to to nutty and roasted to grassy and vegetal) due to plant varietal, season of harvest, soil, elevation, weather, cultivation and origin. Each region has its own distinct flavor and aroma. Green tea comes from leaves that are withered and then immediately steamed or fired to halt the active leaf enzymes that would otherwise react with oxygen. In China, this is generally done by roasting or pan-firing the leaves. In Japan, this is usually accomplished by steaming the leaves at a high temperature. During firing or steaming, the leaf is continuously rolled to and fro, creating the unique shape of the leaf (flat and needle-like, wirey and twisted, or pearl shaped). The Chinese style of processing tends to bring out a smooth, aromatic flavor while the steaming process yields a deep vegetal or herbaceous quality-–a characteristic prized in Japanese teas.
Green tea tends to be the most difficult category to brew correctly and can easily go bitter. The finer full leaf teas are less forgiving so a strict 1 – 2 minutes brewing type is critical for obtaining optimal flavor. Its medium to low caffeine content makes it a refreshing and healthy beverage that can be enjoyed throughout the day. Numerous studies showing extensive health benefits tied in to drinking 2 to 3 cups a day are making Green Tea a top beverage of choice.
Summary of health benefits:
- High in antioxidants
- Contains cancer fighting properties
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves mental alertness
- Helps remove toxins from the body
- Aids in regulating blood sugars
Color: light brown, reddish hue to deep brown
Body: light and fragrant to darker, more full bodied
Palate: Earthy flavors with undertones of roasted nuts
Having the broadest variety of flavor and character profiles, Oolong Teas are extremely complex and highly sought after by the tea connoisseurs. These semi-oxidized teas have characteristics in-between green and black teas. It is because of the intricacy of the rolling or tossing process and split oxidation time (2 hours vs. 4) that oolong teas have the widest array of flavors and aromas. The tossing or rolling of the leaves bruises the outer edges releasing enzymes that react with oxygen, the outer part of the leaf is allowed to oxidize, but the center is kept green. Depending on the extent of time of oxidation the profile sways between green and black characteristics.
High quality oolongs are among the world’s most expensive teas. The leaves are usually brownish in color, large in appearance and produce a very aromatic, smooth and complex brews. Our premium Oolongs come from Taiwan and the Wuyi Mountains of China.
Oolong teas popularity has soared due to its extraordinary weight loss capabilities. Research suggests that drinking oolong tea regularly can help lower cholesterol, increase metabolism and regulate sugar levels; hence why Oolong tea has been widely popular in Asia for hundreds of years as a natural and safe slimming tea.
Summary of health benefits:
- Helps burn fats
- Increases metabolism
- Aids in lowering cholesterol
- Suppress appetite
Region: Paraguay, Argentina & Brazil
Color: medium to deep brown
Body: mild to medium, smooth
Palate: robust earthy tones
This ancient drink of health, vitality and friendship originates from South America. Yerba maté (pronounced yer-bah MAH-tay) is indigenous to the subtropical rainforests of South America.
Deemed the “Drink of the Gods" this native South American tea is drunk out of a hollowed-out gourd that is filled with the maté leaves and sipped through a bombilla (straw filter). The gourd is repeatedly filled with hot water and sipped throughout the day or passed around a circle of friends. The method of sharing it with friends inspires the openness and sharing of friendship. Unlike most teas, it does not become bitter and astringent when steeped for extended periods, so the leaves can be infused several times.
When harvested according to natural and organic methods, maté is a renewable rainforest product and is part of a socially and environmentally conscious movement to promote non-timber forestry products in the Amazon rainforest.
Its robust nutritional profile combined with its unique combination of natural stimulants (mateine & theobromine) make it a popular alternative beverage to coffee that helps boost energy without the nervousness and jitters associated with coffee, enhances clarity and aid in weight-loss. Yerba Maté is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, E, B-complex and C. It also contains 15 different amino acids. It stimulates the central nervous system and helps maintain aerobic breakdown of carbohydrates during exercise for longer periods of time.
Summary of health benefits:
- Increases energy levels
- Suppresses appetite
- Stimulates mental awareness
- Contains mood enhancing properties
- Stimulates the metabolism
Region: South Africa
Color: vibrant ruby red
Body: medium - full
Palette: mildly sweet and nutty with honey-like undertones
Also known as Red Tea, Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) comes from a shrub known as the “African Red Bush”, hence why it is considered a herbal tea. Originally consumed by the nomadic tribes of South Africa, rooibos grows in a small area near Cape Town with no alternative source available anywhere in the world. It is no surprise that such a remarkable, nutritious herb comes from this region which has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world - 3 times as many species per square meter than the South American rainforest.
Rooibos has a unique combination of powerful anti-oxidants, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to help strengthen the body’s immune system and is said to contain some of the highest known levels of anti-aging properties. Rooibos is also widely popular for its ability to replenish the skin topically as well as from the inside out. Extract from this plant is often used as a raw material for many skin creams & cosmetics. In fact, you can use it topically to soothe irritated skin since Rooibos contains anti-inflammatory properties – brew it and place directly on the affected area.
Naturally caffeine-free this therapeutic herbal tea offers many of the same health promoting properties as green tea, making it an ideal choice for evening or for people sensitive to caffeine. Like green tea, the potent antioxidants in rooibos are believed to fight aging, cancer and heart disease, support the immune system and improve overall health. It contains Anti-spasmodic agents that make Rooibos a natural aid for digestion; used widely in South Africa to help relieve stomach cramps and relieve colic in children. It’s relaxing, soothing and nourishing and is also highly recommended for allergies, headaches, skin health, stress, anxiety or insomnia.
It is clear that the startling versatility of Rooibos, combined with its wonderful aroma and sweet, nutty flavor, makes this new beverage a favorite among tea fans and a must-try for the seeker of an alternative beverage and a healthier lifestyle. Try it with honey for added health benefits!
Summary of health benefits:
- Naturally caffeine-free
- Boosts immune system
- High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Helps digestion
- Alleviates allergy symptoms
- Used as key ingredient in natural skin care products
- Rich in anti-aging properties
- Eases insomnia, irritability, and hyper-tension
Tea is technically the beverage brewed from the leaves of the tea plant known as Camellia Sinensis. However, today any hot beverage prepared in the same brewing method is considered Tea. It is identified as Herbal Tea when the beverage is brewed from other type of leaves, flowers, roots, spices and/or fruit. With countless combinations of dried fruits, flowers and herbs & spices, Herbal Teas offer a wide range of blends and infusions sure to captivate just about anyone.
Since ancient times, herbal teas have been popular for their bountiful health benefits and therapeutic properties. Herbal teas are often used to aid digestion, sooth allergies, relieve headaches and reduce stress. You can drink them for a specific health benefit or simply to enjoy an aromatic, soothing and uplifting cup of tea. It is important to distinguish between different types of herbal teas, since health benefits, medicinal properties and flavor vary dramatically from plant to plant.
Most of them are caffeine –free so they can be enjoyed in the evening. However, Yerba Mate is considered a Herbal Tea since the leaf is not from the traditional tea bush but does however contain a type of caffeine. Furthermore, some herbs may have certain effects on people with pre-existing health condition or an adverse interaction on prescription medications, so it is always recommended to consult a healthcare provider prior to dinking any herbal teas on a regular basis.
Summary of health benefits:
- Naturally caffeine-free (unless blend contains Yerba Mate)
- Supports hydration
- Helps relax and relieve stress
- Aids in detoxifying and cleansing
- Good source of vitamins and minerals
Time to Taste
The taste and aroma is the most important indicator of quality. Certainly, taste is subjective and not all tea drinkers share the same opinions. But, in general, freshly brewed, good quality tea should have a fresh, lasting aroma, a refreshing first taste and a lingering after taste.
Freshness may matter more than you think. Studies suggest that tea, as any fresh fruit or vegetable, may lose vitamins and antioxidants over time.
To optimize freshness, we recommend:
- Store tea tightly sealed in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and strong odors. Do not refrigerate. Tea should never be stored in plastic, glass or paper. In fact our biodegradable tea bags are nitrogen sealed in their overwrap to ensure freshness for up to 2 years. Also, tea easily absorbs scents around it. For this reason, we do not recommend storing tea in your spice cabinet.
- Whether you prefer hot or iced tea, always prepare it fresh. According to the USDA's report on the antioxidant content of fresh food, fresh iced tea may contain 20 times more atioxidants than bottled or canned iced teas.
- Drink tea within 1-2 years of purchase. Tea rarely goes bad, but it will loose freshness, flavor and contain less health benefits.
- Avoid “fannings” or tea dust. Used in mass produced tea bags, fannings are the lowest grade of tea. Because it is in powdered form, the increased surface-to-air ratio in makes this grade of tea go stale much faster. Also, mass produced tea bags are almost always packaged in paper or plastic, which does little to preserve freshness.
Preparing the perfect cup of tea is quite simple. All you need is the proper serving of tea leaves, an infuser of your choice and a fresh cold water that has just been boiled. It comes down to five simple steps. Recommended servings are based on an 8 oz. Cup. These are general guidelines though. If you prefer stronger tasting tea, simply add more leaves to the infuser. NOTE: the more leaves you add the more space they will require to expand so we recommend using a basket infuser.
- Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil. Always start with the freshest, purest source of water available as this will heavily impact tea's flavor.
- Add tealeaves to a teapot or infuser basket. Use 1 teaspoon – 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) per cup (8 oz) of water depending upon tea type and desired strength. (see our Brewing Chart below for recommended measurements/per tea type)
- Pour boiled water directly over black, oolong and herbal tea. Allow water to cool slightly before pouring over green tea, white tea or yerba maté.
- Cover and steep (infuse) leaves for 2-5 minutes depending on the tea type (see our Brewing Chart below for recommended times)
- Remove tea infuser from water or strain leaves. ENJOY!
(Green, Black, and Oolong use 1 teaspoon
White Tea use 15 teaspoons
Rooibos and Herbal use 2 teaspoons
Mate use 15 teaspoons)
Key Points For Making The Perfect Cup:
Fresh, pure water is instrumental – always use filtered tap water or bottled water Even the best tea will taste only as good as the water used to prepare it. Avoid distilled, mineral and soft tap water, which will weaken tea's flavor or impart a “chemical” or “off” taste.
Why is it so important? Subtle variations of pH and mineral content of the water can affect the taste and strength of the brew. Calcium is necessary to achieve full flavor, whereas magnesium and iron are detrimental. Distilled water should never be used because it lacks trace minerals and gives a flat lifeless taste. Water that is heavily treated with a water softener may also dull tea’s flavor.
Ideal water temperature for brewing most teas is around 195˚F. Since water boils at 212˚ F, this is just slightly under boiling. If the water is too hot, some teas may go bitter. If the water is not hot enough, the tea will taste dull and flat.
Leaves Before Water
Always add the tealeaves to your cup or teapot first, and pour the water over. The act of pouring water over the tealeaves creates a little whirlpool effect that mixes the tea and water perfectly, beginning the brewing process. If you add a strainer to an already filled cup or teapot, it may overflow. Also, the tealeaves will simply float on top, rather than being fully submerged.
Over steeping can make tea taste bitter. If you prefer strong tea, do not over steep; simply use more leaves. Refer to our brewing chart for specific timing based on tea type.
Room to Expand
Tea expands 2-5 times its size in water. We recommend using strainers or bags that allow ample room for the tealeaves to expand. Large strainers provide plenty of room for the water to flow around the leaves, yielding a better, more aromatic flavor.
High-quality tea can be steeped multiple times. Increase steeping time 1 minute with each subsequent infusion.
Milk and Honey
Strong, black teas taste exceptional and creamy with a touch of milk. Gentle green and white teas may be overwhelmed by these additional ingredients. Honey is a great alternative sweetener to black teas with milk teas as well as to the Herbal and Rooibos blends.
ICED - Tea - Freshly Brewed
There is nothing more refreshing and delicious than a glass of freshly brewed iced tea. The taste will be so pure and exquisitely fresh that you can either have it on the rocks or as a blend for a great summer virgin cocktail.
Be creative when serving tea over ice. Garnish with lemon lime slices, fresh mint sprigs or give it a tropical twist with diced fruit and fresh berries. Frozen berries or watermelon squares can replace traditional ice cubes, adding flavor and eye candy to your refreshing beverage. You can also spike it up with fruit juices (either fresh or frozen juice ice cubes) and rum to make more of a cocktail.
Pure & Simple Iced Tea - Makes 1/2 gallon (64 oz)
Tea Testing Vocabulary
|Aftertaste||The "shadow taste" or "finish" that remains in the mouth after swallowing.|
|Aroma||An attractive smell sometimes referred to as "nose" or "bouquet." High grown teas, such as Darjeeling and many oolongs, are prized for their distinctive aroma. When you taste a tea, make note of the quality and strength of the aroma.|
|Aromatic||A pronounced, complex fragrance.|
|Astringency||The lively, pungent quality that produces a drying sensation on your tongue or gums. Comparable to the dryness of wine. This is not to be confused with bitterness.|
|Balance||A subjective term used in tea evaluation. A tea in which all aspects of flavor work together is said to be "in balance."|
|Big||Robust or full-bodied in flavor and aroma.|
|Biscuity||A pleasant taste resembling fresh baked bread. Sometimes found in Assam teas.|
|Bite||An astringent or tangy quality.|
|Bitter||A subjective tasting term referring to a sharp, acrid or unpleasant feeling on the taste buds along the sides of back of the tongue. If the bitterness is overwhelming and masks all other flavors, this can be a flaw in the tea itself or a result of over steeping/incorrect brewing.|
|Body||The sensation of how the tea liquor feels in the mouth. This term refers to the viscosity, thickness, consistency, weight or texture. A tea is described as having light, medium or full body. A tea's body will vary according to type and region.|
|Bouquet||The complex fragrance in fine or floral teas.|
|Bright||A lively, aromatic, uplifting flavor. The tea's appearance can also be described as bright if the liquor looks lively, clear, luminous and sparkling rather than dull and flat.|
|Brisk||A vivacious, slightly astringent taste as opposed to a flat or soft flavor. This describes the lively quality of an infusion.|
|Buttery||A rich heaviness in the mouth.|
|Character||The distinct qualities of the tea, often specific to the region where the tea was grown.|
|Chocolate||A rich, deep, flavor reminiscent of chocolate. Found in some oolong and black teas.|
|Clarity||A term for the absence of cloudiness in a tea's liquor.|
|Clean||The quality of a thin, fresh flavor that finishes smooth and has nothing unfavorable about it.|
|Color||The color of the tea's liquor. This varies depending on the type of tea.|
|Complex||A multidimensional aroma or flavor profile.|
|Course||An undesirable harsh, biting, bitter taste. This can either be a flaw in the tea or a result of over steeping or incorrect brewing.|
|Crisp||A clean and fresh characteristic that is sometimes tart; not soft.|
|Deep||Having layers of complexity or richness.|
|Delicate||Restrained flavors that are neither strong nor intense.|
|Distinctive||A tea that is markedly different from other teas and sets itself apart with refined character qualities.|
|Dry||A tea that finishes parched or dehydrated in the mouth; not sweet.|
|Dull||A liquor that lacks a lively, bright character in either taste or appearance. Flat or lackluster.|
|Earthy||Describes an elemental character of some teas likened to the smell of damp, forest soil. This is a natural and desirable trait of tea from certain regions, or if it is unpleasant, it can indicate improper storage.|
|Elegant||Gentle, well-rounded and smooth.|
|Even||Uniform appearance and size of the leaves.|
|Flat||Lifeless flavor that lacks briskness and body. Soft. This can be the result of tea that is old or has been stored improperly.|
|Flowery||An exceptionally aromatic character suggestive of flowers such as jasmine, orchid or rose. This can either be a natural trait of the tealeaves themselves, or as a result of scenting or blending the tealeaves with flowers during production. Good Darjeelings and some oolongs have this trait.|
|Fresh||An uplifting, lively, flavor. Opposite of stale|
|Fruity||Flavor nuances similar to ripe fruit. Sometimes found in oolong and black teas. Tea can have flavor notes that suggest peaches, apples, pears, grapes, raisins, currants, figs and more. Also describes fruit flavored teas.|
|Full||Tea possessing color, strength and body as opposed to being empty or thin.|
|Full-bodied||Indicates strong character or mouth feel.|
|Grassy||A bright, strong flavor and aroma reminiscent of fresh-cut grass, herbs or vegetables. A desirable trait found in steamed green teas.|
|Hard||Tea that has a penetrating and strength or sharp flavor (sometimes desirable).|
|Harmonious||A perfectly balanced flavor in terms of all of its components.|
|Harsh||A negative characteristic describing a bitter, unpleasant or offensive taste sensation. This can also describe an overabundance of one specific flavor.|
|Heavy||Tea that possesses a thick, strong liquor with depth of color but is lacking in flavor or briskness.|
|Herbaceous||An herbal aroma or flavor reminiscent of herbs, leaves or plants.|
|Honey||A sweet aftertaste or a silky, nectar-like texture.|
|Jasmine||Tea that has floral notes of jasmine, usually a result of added jasmine flowers or a traditional scenting process during production.|
|Length||A long-lingering taste that remains in the mouth after swallowing a sip of tea.|
|Light||Indicating a thin character, in terms of texture and weight on the tongue.|
|Malty||A desirable, hearty malted barley taste found often in Assam tea.|
|Mellow||Tea leaves which have matured well, producing a harmonious, well-balanced, smooth flavor.|
|Muscatel||Rich flavor like that of muscat grapes. This is an exceptional characteristic found in high quality Darjeeling tea.|
|Nutmeg||A characteristic often associated with Darjeeling teas that is mild in the first flush and more pronounced in the second flush.|
|Nutty||Attribute of some teas (such as some pan-fired green teas or certain black and oolong teas) that suggests the roasted aroma of hazelnuts, almonds, roasted nuts, etc.|
|Pale||Liquor that does not have depth of color, but may still have a nice flavor profile. Darjeeling is a good example of this, because its liquor is naturally lighter than other black teas.|
|Peppery||Spicy texture on the tongue.|
|Pungent||A bright liquor that has a pleasant, pronounced briskness and a desirable, strong, astringent flavor. This is a desirable quality, but must be well balanced.|
|Rich||A pleasantly thick and mellow flavor.|
|Round||A full, smooth-tasting flavor.|
|Short||A too-brief taste or finish that ends abruptly after swallowing.|
|Silky||A smooth, graceful texture quality.|
|Simple||Flavors and aromas that have only a single layer of sensation; not complex.|
|Smokey||Refers to the flavor a tea acquires from being "fired" (dried) over smokey flames, imparting a woodsy or smoked flavor.|
|Spicy||A fragrance or flavor reminiscent of spices like cinnamon, black pepper or clove. Can be a natural attribute of the tealeaves themselves, or a result of added spices in the case of blended teas.|
|Stale||Tea that has an unpleasant, flat, lifeless or "off" taste because it is old or has been stored in damp conditions.|
|Sweet||Free from excessive acidity. A pleasant flavor or aftertaste on the tip of the tongue; suggestive of honey, sugar or licorice root.|
|Tannin||A natural substance found in plants that imparts a puckery mouth feel and produces the structure and texture in many teas.|
|Tart||An intensely sharp sensation along the sides of the tongue. This can be a positive or negative trait depending on the type of tea and the intensity. For example, hibiscus leaves are prized for their natural, exceptionally tart flavor.|
|Thick||Tea that has good body as opposed to being thin. Black teas often produce a thick liquor with a heavy, dense texture quality.|
|Thin||Tea that lacks body. This is not necessarily a bad trait, as certain teas (such as Darjeeling or some white teas) are celebrated for their thin yet flavoury liquors. However, teas from Assam should never have a thin liquor.|
|Tippy||Having a consistent amount of golden or silver color on the tips of the leaves, indicating fine plucking.|
|Vanilla||Having a sweet flavor suggestive of vanilla beans or vanilla extract/flavor.|
|Weak||A tea lacking in character.|
|Weedy||A flavor suggestive of wet hay or straw.|
|Woodsy||An aroma or flavor reminiscent of tree bark, cedar, pine or oak.|
Selecting the right brewing equipment can simplify the process and make brewing tea easy.
Essentially, you need 3 things: /p>
- A way to boil water: We recommend a stovetop kettle or an electric kettle
- A teapot or cup
- A brewing tool. It could either be a “teamaker”, strainer, infuser basket or ball, or fill-your-own teabag
The Amanzi Tea Maker
With the Amanzi Tea Maker, the brewing process for loose leaf tea has never been so simple! Just place the tea leaves in the brewer, add hot water and wait. After the tea has steeped the right amount of time, place the infuser on top of a mug, pour and enjoy! Comes with a removable mesh filter and is dishwasher safe.
Infusers that fit right in your mug or teapots are easy to use and provide ample room for tealeaves to expand. Note: Always choose infusers made with fine mesh; strainers with large holes tend to clog.
Teapots are a great way to brew tea for more than one person. For ultimate convenience, we recommend teapots with built-in infuser baskets.
Fill Your Own Tea Bags
Fill-your-own tea bags give you the best of both worlds—the convenience of a traditional tea bag with the quality of loose leaf tea. Simply fill the disposable bag with your favorite loose tea and brew just as you would a normal tea bag. Ideal for brewing tea away from home.
You have two options. If you are a prefer a traditional look in the kitchen, you can either choose a classical stove-top kettle or make a statement with a colorful and/or unique design kettle. If you drink tea on a regular basis and are looking for a convenient, hassle-free way to boil your water without having to supervise a hot stove, an electric water-heater will make your life easy! Although microwaves can also do the job, it is a little tougher to judge temperature.
A Measuring Spoon
Again, the serving size varies between 1 teaspoon and 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of tealeaves per 8 oz cup. As you experiment with different tea types, you will figure out which teas you prefer to brew stronger, and which teas you prefer to brew weaker. We recommend always using the same spoon so you develop a frame of reference. This will make it easy for you to determine how much of your favorite teas to use.
Tea And Health
With a rapidly growing movement towards adopting healthier living, Tea has a head start. It has been acclaimed for its medicinal properties since ancient times but the Chinese and other eastern cultures. Today, scientific research and modern medicine affirm that Tea, whether Black, Oolong, Green, or White and other herbal drinks such as Rooibos may provide an impressive list of health benefits.
What Makes Tea So Healthy?
It’s all about the antioxidants!
Tea contains extremely high levels of antioxidants. These are molecules that assist eliminating the harmful effects caused by free-radicals.
- Free Radicals
Free Radicals are produced by the body to aid in metabolic processes, such as digestion and the conversion of food into energy. They are actually quite helpful in many of the body’s natural functions. However, when too many are produced, they can turn against you and become a dangerous enemy. Each free radical is capable of destroying an enzyme, protein, molecule or a complete cell even damage cell structures so badly that immunity is impaired and DNA codes are altered. When this happens, it is called oxidation (much like what happens to that rusted nail or the cut apple). An overpopulation of these “free radicals” leaves the body susceptible to viruses, cancer, heart disease, and many degenerative diseases. The amount of the free radicals in our bodies depends on our exposure to stress, carcinogens (cigarette smoke), ultra-violet light, certain food additives, and other toxic chemical.
Our bodies try to protect us from free radical damage by using antioxidants found in out diet. Antioxidants area protective molecules, which can destroy free radicals by feeding electrons to them, thus neutralizing them rendering them harmless. Whilst antioxidants naturally inhibit the growth and formation of free radicals, the do not stop them. Antioxidants are also referred to as free radical scavengers. Increasing your daily intake of antioxidants can significantly help neutralize the damaging effects of these free radicals.“Scientist now believe that free radicals are causal factor in nearly ever known disease from cancer, heart disease, to arthritis”
Lester Packer Ph. D. The Antioxidant Miracle
Tea And Health - The Natural Powers Of Tea
Prevention of Cancer
The antioxidants known as catechins, found in greatest concentration in Green Tea, act as powerful inhibitors of cancer growth in several ways. They scavenge oxidants before cell injuries occur, inhibit the growth of tumor cells and boost immune system to help fend off the development of potential cancer in breast, prostate, lung, and skin cancers as well as cancers of the mouth and digestive tract.
Recommended Teas: White and Green
Tea also contains flavonoids that restrict the build up of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and helps raise good cholesterol (HDL)- this helps with blood vessel functionality. It assists in controlling blood clotting, improves circulation, and reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries. Another powerful component of tea know as polyphenols, activate the enzyme that is directly responsible for dissolving and breaking down Triglycerides. Excess Triglycerides and high cholesterol are the major cause of heart disease.
Recommended Tea: Black, Oolong, and Green
The future tea in this department is Rooibos. This South African herbal infusion contains almost no oxalic acid, making it a good beverage for people prone to kidney stones. Studies have also shown that this tea contains anti-spasmodic agents, which can relieve stomach cramping and colic in infants. However, polyphenols in tea also help with digestion of fatty foods by increasing the flow of digestive juices.
Recommended Teas: Rooibos and Green
Mood and Nervous System
Theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea, is know to reduce physical and mental stress and at the same time produce feeling of relaxation and happiness, improving mood. It is know to stimulate Alpha brain waves, which is relaxed yet alert mental state.
Recommended Tea: Green, White, and Rooibos
Strengthens Immune System
Vitamin C, found in green tea helps to treat the flu and the common cold. Moreover, antioxidants in tea have shown to increase the number of white blood cells in our immune systems.
Recommended Tea: White, Green and Rooibos.
Free radicals also speed up the process of aging, such as breakdown of collagen. In addition, because they react with oxygen, free radicals reduce the oxygen supply to your cells. A group of antioxidants found in Green and White tea known as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), combined are at lease 100 times more effective than Vitamin C and 25 times more effective than Vitamin E at protecting cells and DNA damage.
Recommended Tea: Green and White Rooibos
Strong Teeth and Bones
Polyphenols found in tea may reduce plaque, which lowers your chance of cavity and gum disease. Tea also contains fluoride that helps protect against tooth decay. Fluoride is extracted from the soil by the tea plant. This identified mineral also strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis.
The type of caffeine found in tea differs from that of coffee. Caffeine found in tea is absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower rate, and as a result, it is able to give the body increased energy levels for a longer time, without the sudden “crash” often associated with coffee. Yerba Mate is another option, a herbal infusion from South Africa that contains “Caffeine” a substance similar to caffeine. It has a natural ability to uplift the spirit, boost energy, and improve moor without causing nervousness or jitters.
Recommended Tea: Green, Black, and Yerba Mate.
Studies have shown that when theanine is absorbed into the body, it can help to bring about a relaxed yet alert state of mind. Theanine, an amino acid, is found almost exclusively in tea.
Allergies, Complexion, and Headaches
High in minerals like copper, iron and potassium, calcium, fluoride, zinc, manganese, alpha-hydroxy (for healthy skin) and magnesium (for the nervous system) and naturally caffeine free, Rooibos is also an excellent beverage abundant in health benefits ranging from relieving headaches, hypertension allergies and skin conditions!
Tea is highly beneficial in assisting with weight loss. In particular, the polyphenols found in tea assist in the following areas:
- Polyphenols found in tea activates the enzyme that is responsible for dissolving triglyceride (a by product of processed sugar and fat). Excess triglyceride is stored in fat cells. The net result is that the polyphenols help break down fat cells.
- Catechin (a polyphenol) found in green and oolong tea, inhibits the conversion of Carbohydrates and Glucose in to fat cells. With slowed breakdown of Carbohydrates into sugars, blood insulin levels are stabilized and are not as volatile. The prevention of sharp increase in blood-insulin levels causes the body to burn more fat cells.
- Increase our metabolism and therefore energy consumption. These compounds work with other chemicals to intensify levels of fat oxidation and thermo genesis, where heat is created in the body by burning fuels such as fat.
Recommended Teas: Oolong, Green, and Yerba Mate
Integrate tea into a balanced diet and exercise and you are off to a great start!
Studies - Tea Under AMicroscope
Teal Awareness Ribbon
A study in Sweden found that women in the study who drank two or more cups a day, either green or black, had 46% reduced health of ovarian cancer compared to the non-tea drinkers.
Purple Awareness Ribbon
A recent study has been published by the European Journal of Neuroscience. According to researchers at the Douglas Hospital Research Center (DHRC), their finding suggest that regular consumption of black or green tea may help reduce the risk of degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer disease. It appears that the catechins found in the tea may help protect neurons from the hazardous proteins that destroy them.
Red Awareness Ribbon
A recent study, conducted by Dr. Howard Sesso et al. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, examined 340 men and women who had suffered heart attacks and found that those who drank a cup or more of black tea daily had a 44 percent reduction in heart attack compared to non-tea drinkers.
Grey Awareness Ribbon
A new study by DSM Nutritional Products shows that epigallocatechin gallate, commonly known as EGCG, improves glucose in diabetic rodents and could be a positive addition to dietary prevention of type 2 diabetes, if the result can be applied to humans.
Choosing Your Tea
- One cup of tea is equivalent to 10 portions of vegetables
- Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins. (Note: The longer you brew Green tea you may get some bitterness. The recommending timing for a smoother cup of Green tea should be kept closer to 3 minutes)
- The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottle ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of the compounds.
- Matcha Green tea has 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice and 8 times the beta carotene of Spinach- it’s known as a “Super Food”
The History Of Tea - A Snapshot Through Time
As the most popular drink in the world after water, tea has had an enormous impact on our collective history, culture, and economics. Tea was popular before the Egyptians built the great pyramids and was traded among Asian countries even before Europe left the dark ages.
|2737 BC:||Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea after the wind blew leaves from nearby shrub into boiling water.
Tea was initially used in China as a medicine to treat a variety of ailments and to increase concentration and alertness. However, due to its refreshing and restorative properties, tea quickly became part of everyday life.
|8th Century:||Tea began to spread outside of China Tea's popularity in Tibet and the surrounding kingdoms led to its use as a form of currency. Pressed bricks or even coins made from dried and powdered tea could be used to buy anything and workmen and servants were routinely paid in this method.|
|9th century:||Buddhist monks introduced tea to Japan.
For centuries following, tea was an integral part of Japanese monastery life and monks used tea to help them stay alert during long hours of meditation. By the early 1300's tea gained popularity throughout Japanese society.
Based on the philosophies of Zen Buddhism, the Japanese Tea Ceremony places supreme importance on respecting the act of making and drinking tea. It captures the essential elements of Japanese philosophy and interweaves four principals: harmony (with nature and people), purity (of heart and mind), respect (for others) and tranquility. The tea ceremony was considered such an important part of Japanese society that special tea rooms were built in backyard gardens and women were required to master the art of the tea ceremony before allowing to marry.
|1610:||Through Portuguese influence, The Dutch introduced Europe to Green tea for the first time.
The first European to personally encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Father Jasper de Cruz in 1560. Portugal, with her technologically advanced navy, had opened up the sea routes to China, as early as 1515.
The Portuguese developed a trade route by which they shipped their tea to Lisbon, and then Dutch ships transported it to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries. Dutch sailors on the ships encouraged Dutch merchants to enter the tea trade.
|1618:||Tea was introduced to Russia.
Chinese presented a gift of tea to Tsar Alexis of Russia. Tea quickly gained popularity. A camel caravan trade route (covering 11,000 miles of difficult terrain) emerged to transport tea into the country. To keep up with the demand, nearly 6,000 camels (carrying 600 lbs of tea each) entered Russia each yea -- 3.5 million pounds of tea. The camel caravan ended with the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1903--cutting the journeys length from 1 ½ years to just a few weeks.
|1662:||Tea gained popularity in England.
King Charles II married the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza. Britain's new queen had always loved tea and brought with her, as part of her dowry, a chest of Chinese tea. She began serving the tea to her aristocratic friends at Court, and word of the exotic beverage spread quickly.
As an imported luxury, only the wealthy could afford to drink tea. Tea consumption became highly fashionable and elitist. According to a London magazine in the 1740's, it cost more to maintain a fashionable tea table with tea and accessories than to support 2 children and a nurse. Being able to serve and drink tea with elegance and skill marked social status and indicated good breeding and intellect.
|Mid 1600:||To stop Teas from spoiling in long journeys to Europe, the Chinese devised methods of oxidation to make black tea.|
|1765:||Tea ranked among the most popular beverage in the American colonies.|
|1773:||Boston Tea Party. Outraged by tea prohibitive tea prices 343 chests of tea were thrown overboard. This was the catalyst that sparked the American Revolution.|
|1837:||First tea plantation was established in Assam by the East India Company using an indigenous shrub.
Increased demand for tea in England and rising trade tension between China and Britain triggered the British East India Company to begin large-scale production of tea in Assam, India. in 1840, the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region, run by indentured servitude of the local inhabitants. Beginning in the 1850s, the tea industry rapidly expanded, consuming vast tracts of land for tea plantations. By the turn of the century, Assam became the leading tea producing region in the world.
Today India is listed as the world's leading producer, its 715,000 tons well ahead of China's 540,000 tons, and of course, the teas of, Ceylon (from the island nation known as Sri Lanka), and Darjeeling are world famous. However, because Indians average half a cup daily on per capita basis, fully 70 percent of India's immense crop is consumed locally."
|1904:||Englishman Richards Blechynden invented Ice Tea at World Fair in St. Louis.
As a tea merchant and plantation owner, Blechynden was handing out free samples of his hot tea at the 1904 World Fair. However, St Louis was experiencing a blistering heat wave that summer and no one seemed interested in a hot beverage. It is said that Blechynded poured ice in his samples and the beverage became an instant hit at the fair.
|1908:||Tea merchant Tom Sullivan sent sample silk tea bags to customers. Customers mistakenly steeped the bags and tea bag is born.|