New To Tea
The Secrets to the Perfect Cup of Tea!
One plant, Camellia Sinensis, creates the varieties of tea available. How the tea is processed (dried and/or oxidized) by the growers will determine if the leaf will become white, green, matcha (stone-ground tea), oolong, pu-erh, black, purple, or yellow tea.
There are other plants that are brewed and consumed like tea and therefore commonly referred to as tea. For example, rooibos (an Afrikaans word meaning 'red bush') from South Africa, yerba mate from South America, and the broad range of herbals are actually fruits, plants and botanicals.
Whichever tea you prefer, here are the general brewing methods to get you started.
Brewing Basics for Hot Tea
There's nothing better than a good cup of tea. To ensure best results, consider these three things:
1. Quality of Water
When possible, using fresh filtered water will bring out the best flavor of your tea.
2. Amount of Tea
A teaspoon is the simplest tool for measuring tea - or use one of our 'perfect spoons'. If using a teaspoon, measure one level teaspoon of loose tea (heaping for large leaf tea) for each 6 to 8 ounces of water (~ to 1 cup or mug). Pour prepared hot water over the tea to brew / steep according to the brewing instructions below.
3. The Steep (Water Temperature and Time)
Less time is always better – too long and tea may become bitter. Generally, we recommend:
- - White / Green Teas - 170°F (take boiling water and let it cool for 2 minutes), steep for 1-3 minutes
- - Oolong Teas - 190°F (take boiling water and let it cool for 1 minute), steep for 1-3 minutes
- - Black Teas - 212°F (boiling water) steep for 3-5 minutes (start with 3 minutes, we do not recommend over 5 minutes)
- - Herbal / Rooibos / Honeybush - 212°F (boiling water), steep for 5-7 minutes
- - Matcha - see detailed instructions below
- - Pu-erh: follow the water temperature of the tea group that your Pu-erh was fermented from (usually black, however there are other types such as white and green)
Note: feel free to adjust the amount of tea and the steep time to suit your taste - tea is a very personal experience!
Multiple Brews / Steeps
This refers to re-using the same leaves for multiple cups or pots of tea (in the same sitting). Most of our teas are great for at least one additional brew, or more.
Brewing Iced Tea
Individual cup method
Brew with less water (since the tea will dilute when poured over ice) or double the amount of tea.
Place 5 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat-resistant pitcher. Pour 1¼ cups of freshly-prepared water over the tea to make a concentrate. Brew / steep for the correct brewing time as listed above. Fill a serving pitcher one quarter full of cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher, straining out the tea leaves. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. This will make 1 liter/quart of iced tea.
Matcha is generally considered the healthiest of all teas since you consume the whole leaf. Matcha is used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony and is prepared using a bowl, a beautiful whisk made from a single piece of bamboo, artfully designed with 100 tines.
To prepare at home, place ¾ teaspoon of matcha - or 2 scoops with the bamboo scoop - into a teacup or bowl, and pour 6 ounces of hot water (170°F) into the bowl.
Using the whisk, briskly brush from side to side, and then whisk until a fine foam of small bubbles appears. Some people suggest whisking in the shape of an 'M'.
Consume the matcha immediately, directly from the cup or bowl.
We have enhanced our Matcha selection, and we now offer a variety of flavored matcha and matcha-style blends (including ground rooibos and yerba mate).
Varieties of Tea from the Camellia Sinensis Leaf
Black tea is produced when withered tea leaves are rolled and oxidized causing the leaves to turn dark. Once the desired color and pungency is reached the tea is dried.
Oolong is created by withering and by only briefly oxidizing the tea leaves in direct sunlight. Creating oolong tea takes more care and requires a Tea Master to accomplish. When the leaves give off a distinctive fragrance—often compared to apples, orchids or peaches. The leaves are rolled, then fired to halt oxidation
Green tea is produced when tea leaves are exposed to heat stopping the oxidation process just after harvest. This allows the leaf to retain its emerald hue. Next, the leaves are rolled or twisted and fired.
White tea is the most minimally processed of all tea varietals. The fragile tea buds are neither rolled or oxidized and must be carefully monitored as they are dried. This precise and subtle technique produces a subtle cup with mellow, sweet notes.
Matcha tea is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro, a premium green tea. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. However, if the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.
Pouchong is the most lightly oxidized of all oolong teas - just 8-10%.
Pu-erh is a variety of post-fermented tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Post-fermentation is a tea production style in which the tea leaves undergo a microbial fermentation process after they are dried and rolled. This is a Chinese specialty and is sometimes referred to as dark tea. There are a few different provinces, each with a few regions, producing dark teas of different varieties. Those produced in Yunnan are generally named Pu'er, referring to the name of Pu'er county which used to be a trading post for dark tea during imperial China.