About Tea

All definitions come from James Norwood Pratt's Tea Dictionary which can be purchased here.

"A white downy tea process in two steps only, withering and drying."

Because white tea is the least processed and is made with the newest growth of the tea plant, it contains the highest concentration of antioxidants. These antioxidants may offer many health benefits including inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, helping to lower blood pressure, and protecting the mouth against plaque and tooth decay. White tea is also full of catechins which have been found to help lower cholesterol.

"Unoxidized or unfermented teas. Nearly all green teas come from China or Japan."  In China, the leaves are pan-fired to stop oxidation while in Japan, they are steamed.

The health benefits of green tea have been studied more than any other type of tea. Green tea has been found to help with atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and weight loss. Research at Harvard shows that people who drink at least one cup of tea daily lower their risk of heart attack by 44 percent.

"Black Tea is made from leaf that has been fully oxidized, producing a hearty deep rich flavor in an amber colored liquor. It is the oxidation process, oxygen coming into contact with the enzymes in the tea leaf that creates black tea."

While China and Japan are responsible for the majority of green teas consumed throughout the world, black teas from India are the most widely consumed and also considered the finest. Also, unlike green teas, black teas are often drank with milk.

Studies have shown that people who regularly drink black tea may see benefits in diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney stones, and Parkinson's disease.

All true tea, coming from the Camellia Sinensis plant, contain caffeine. While many factors contribute to the actual amount of caffeine in your cup a general guideline is below:

Caffeine Per 8 oz Cup
Herbals: 0mg
White Tea: 30-55 mg 
Green Tea: 35-70 mg
Oolong Tea: 50-75 mg
Black Tea: 60-90 mg
Coffee: 150-200 mg

While it is true that tea does contain caffeine, as a tea drinker you may have noticed that it doesn't give you the same excitatory effects that the caffeine in coffee gives you. This is likely due to the L-theanine that is found in tea. One study found that low doses of L-theanine can partially reverse caffeine-induced reductions in slow-wave sleep. Another study found that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness.

Ever been offered a cup of tea and thought it tasted bitter? Chances are, it wasn't brewed properly. Tea can be quite finicky and unless it's brewed the way it needs to be brewed, you could end up quite disappointed. Following these general guidelines can help you get to the best possible cup.

First, you have to start with good quality tea and loose-leaf is the way to go. Tea bags have made great contributions to the world of tea, but with the teaware available now, there is no reason not to enjoy loose-leaf teas.

Second, you should use the best quality water available to you. Basic water filtration systems can make a huge difference in the taste of your cup of tea.

Another important question we often hear is about how much tea to use. The general rule is 1 teaspoon of tea per eight-ounce cup. This amount varies though depending on the type of tea. White teas are much less dense than other teas and usually take 2 teaspoons per cup.

Next, you absolutely must use the right temperature of water. You will likely see recommended steeping temperatures vary depending on where you look, but the following will provide you with a general guideline:

WHITE TEA: 170°F-180°F
GREEN TEA: 170°F-180°F
OOLONG: 185°F-195°F
BLACK: 195°F-205°F
HERBAL: Boiling

The last thing you have to know when brewing the perfect cup of tea is the steeping time. As with the temperature, you will see suggested steeping times vary from place to place. The following times will give you a good place to start. Then, it's up to you to vary your steeping time to get the cup of tea you love.

WHITE TEA: 2-4 minutes
GREEN TEA: 2-3 minutes
OOLONG: 3-4 minutes
BLACK: 3-5 minutes
HERBAL: 5-6 minutes

Now, sit back and enjoy your hot delicious cuppa.