What makes a tea 'black' or 'white' or 'green?'
Simply put, the way the tea leaves themselves are prepared. Darker teas are allowed to oxidize for longer than light teas. Some teas are roasted and others are steamed. Some are made from buds and others from leaves. Some leaves are rolled, or chopped, or…well, you get the idea.
Some teas aren’t “teas” at all but “tisanes” – these are tea blends that don’t contain Camellia sinensis leaves. Herbal blends like chamomile or peppermint, rooibos, mate (pronounced mah-tay) are all examples of tisanes. These are generally just called teas for simplicity’s sake, since they are, on the whole, prepared in the same way.
Why sell tea by the ounce? How many cups does 1oz make?
Okay, so how much loose tea should I use in one cup?
Wait. How do I make loose tea if there's no teabag?
There’s a bunch of options! If you’re a single-cup sort of individual, you can get an infuser. These range from the cute and punny to the very practical. The Ingenuitea infuser that we sell is also a great single-cup option. If you just need something disposable for on-the-go, single-serving tea bags are a great option.
If you prefer several cups at a time, teapot infusers such as this bodum one are great options.
And if you’re planning on carrying your tea with you, you can get travel cups with built-in infusers. Be aware that these won’t let you stopper off the leaves once the tea is done steeping, so make sure you’re bringing a tea that won’t mind oversteeping (whites and greens are the worst offenders – black and herbal teas are the best options for this).
Why do some teas recommend different temperatures or different steep times?
Different teas need to be prepared differently.
Green teas, for example, generally taste best when you use steaming water to steep them, and low steep times (< 3 mins). If you use boiling water, you can scald the leaves, and end up with a much harsher, grassy taste. If you steep for too long, your tea can end up bitter. For white teas, even lower temperatures and quicker steep times are necessary to get the best taste.
But hardier teas, with more oxidization, or for teas without actual tea leaves in them (like herbal teas or rooibos), you can be a bit more forgiving. In fact, for these teas, higher temperatures and longer steep times are necessary to extract the flavour.
The general recommendations are 170° for white teas, 180° for green and green oolong, and ~212° for black, dark oolong, herbal, etc. You can fudge these a little (personally, I think 212° is a little too hot, so I do a flat 200°), because ultimately it’s all down to personal preference. Find what tastes best to you!
How can I tell what is 'steaming' versus 'boiling?'
Great question, helpful example question-asker. “Steaming” is generally recommended for more delicate teas such as whites, greens, or green oolongs. This is between 170-180°, and it’s called “steaming” because that’s exactly what it looks like. The top of the water shouldn’t be moving at all – if there are bubbles at the edges, it’s probably too hot. Steam will be rising from the top of the water.
“Boiling” – which should be 200-212°, and is best for black tea, dark oolongs, and herbal teas – is pretty self-explanatory. There should be somewhat rapid bubbles rising on the edges of the pot, but not too rapid. Once you’ve hit a rolling boil (edges are bubbling so violently that they seem to be “spilling” into the middle), you’ve gone too hot.
If you want to just skip all this hassle, we recommend just picking up an electric kettle that allows you to choose your preferred temperatures.
It’s a thing you ought to be doing.
Okay, sorry. Re-steeping is pretty self-explanatory: you steep the tea leaves a second time. Almost all teas can be steeped twice, which is great because that means you get twice the tea from the same amount of leaves! When steeping for a second time, your best bet is to steep for a little bit longer than you did the first time (add ~1 minute to the steep time), or to throw in a half a teaspoon or so of fresh tea leaves.
Does tea have more or less caffeine than coffee?
This is a hard question to answer. It’s like asking “Which has more calories, burgers or tacos?” There are a lot of variables to consider. Not every green tea has the same amount of caffeine, much less every tea, period.
However, in general, tea has less caffeine per cup than coffee does (sometimes by half). There are some teas, such as mates or guayusa, which have significantly higher amounts of stimulants (not necessarily caffeine) than coffee does.
Okay, what if my question isn't answered here?
If none of these answer your questions, please, let us know! You can send us a message through our contact form, and expect to get an answer within roughly 48 business hours or less!