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tea 101

Tea has been enjoyed by people around the world, for pleasure and health, for thousands of years. Tea is the layman's term for Camellia sinensis, a flowering evergreen shrub native to southern China. All tea (except herbal) comes from this plant. Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub which can reach heights of more than thirty feet, if left to grow wild. On farms, tea bushes are generally kept trimmed to a comfortable picking height of two to four feet.

Differences between the various tea families and styles are determined by the way tea is processed. Herbal tea is a misnomer since this tea is made from herbs and not the "tea" plant.

Our teas are organized into eight general groups:

white – White tea is minimally processed – it is generally only air-dried and slightly oxidized. The highest-quality white teas are picked before the leaf buds have opened, while they are still covered with silky white hairs. These teas should be steeped in water well below boiling for at least 4-5 minutes.

green – Green tea is heated immediately after it's picked. Whether pan fired, steamed or fired in an oven, the goodness of the leaf is sealed inside, resulting in a very delicate tea. To prevent destroying the tea's subtle notes, green tea should be brewed in water that is well below boiling. Green tea is believed to provide significant health benefits, due to its high levels of polyphenols.

oolong – Oolong tea is gently rolled after picking, allowing its essential oils to slowly oxidize. This reaction to the air darkens the leaf and produces distinctive fragrances. Once the leaf has developed properly, the tea maker must stop the oxidation by heating it rapidly in a process called 'panning.' The leaf is then rolled into its final shape. Producing this handcrafted tea properly is very labor intensive. Depending on the processing method, the resulting tea can be anywhere from a green to a black. 

black – Black tea is the result of a complete oxidation of the leaf before being fired. First the leaf is spread out and left to wilt naturally, losing its stiffness and much of its weight. Then it's rolled, exposing essential oils to the air and starting the oxidization process. When this is complete, the leaf is heated to stop the process, graded for quality, and packed.

black blends – Our black tea blends make delicious, strong cups of tea with a hearty and satisfying flavor.

decaffeinated – Decaffeinated tea is black, green, oolong or white with most of the caffeine removed.

rooibos  Also known as red tea, rooibos is an herbal plant that grows in South Africa. Rooibos tea gained popularity during WWII when tea supplies from Asia forced drinkers to find an alternative. Rooibos is a flavorful, caffeine-free alternative to tea for those seeking to eliminate caffeine intake.

herbal – Herbal infusions are made from a variety of different plants, not the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis). Popular for their medicinal and calming qualities, they have unique flavors and are all caffeine-free.

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Brewing Chart   (General guidelines – adjust to your preference)

Brewing tea can be complex or simple. The water used to brew tea should be fresh and pure.Water imparts many of its qualities to the finished cup of tea. Bad water will make a bad cup of tea, no matter how good the leaves.


Type of Tea       Amount to use       Temperature      Time


White Teas         2 tsp / 1 cup 185 15 min.


Green Teas         1 rounded tsp / cup 160 - 180 2 - 4 min.

                     *some may be brewed several times

Black Teas          1 rounded tsp / cup 203 - 212    2 - 5 min.


Herbal Teas        1 rounded tsp / cup 203 - 212    3 - 4 min.

   *some may require more tea

Rooibos (Red)          1 rounded tsp / cup 203 - 212   2 - 3 min.


Oolongs             1 rounded tsp / cup       203  -212   5 - 7 min.


Iced Tea    Brew as directed for tea type and chill

      Or       Make a concentrate of 1 and 3/4 C. of dry leaves and brew with 8 cups of water, brew for suggested time 

and temperature, then dilute with a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water, serve over ice.