About Tea

Tea and Brewing FAQ

How many servings are in an ounce of tea?
Typically, two ounces will make 12-15 16-ounce cups of tea, depending on how strong you like it. The volume of an ounce of dry tea leaves can vary quite a bit, though. Some teas are light and fluffy, while others are dense.

How big is a tea cup?

A traditional tea cup is considered to be 6 fluid ounces. So when we say to use 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. of leaves per cup, if your cup is 8 ounces, you may need to use a bit more leaves to get a full strength cup

What do I put the tea leaves in when I brew it?
You may use an infuser, such as a tea ball or brew basket, to hold the leaves or put them loose in the pot, then pour through a strainer.

What’s the difference between a tea kettle and a teapot?
Use a kettle to boil the water and a teapot to serve the tea.

How long do I steep (or brew) the tea?
This can vary significantly from tea to tea, but there are rules of thumb. In general a black tea needs to brew 3-5 minutes for best flavor. They will often get bitter if you let them brew more than 6 or 7 minutes. Green teas often need only 1 minute, but 2-3 minutes is not unusual. White teas should brew between 3-5 minutes. Oolongs typically need 2-3 minutes. Herbals need 5-8 minutes, and they generally don’t get bitter, so you can let them brew as long as you like. In general, finely cut teas, whether black, green, or herbal, require shorter brewing times than large leaf teas.

General Guidelines

Tea Water Temperature Steep Time
Green Tea 180-185 degrees F 1 – 3 minutes
White Tea 175-185 degrees F 3 – 5 minutes
Oolong Tea 190-206 degrees F 2 – 3 minutes
Black Tea Rolling Boil 3 – 5 minutes
Herbal (tisanes) Rolling Boil 5 – 8 minutes

How can I make tea at the office without making a mess?
If you don’t have anywhere to easily clean out an infuser, get some disposable paper filters such as T-Sacs. These are paper pockets that you put your tea leaves in while they brew, then throw away.

How much caffeine is in tea?
Tea contains, roughly, 40 mg caffeine per 6 oz. cup, compared to brewed coffee at 100-150 mg. It is generally agreed that, for most people, moderate caffeine consumption is harmless. Many people find that caffeine boosts mental clarity and alertness in a pleasing way. However, since caffeine is a cardiac stimulant, people with certain heart conditions should avoid caffeine, and excessive caffeine intake can cause restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety. Women should avoid caffeine throughout pregnancy and while nursing.

If you can’t have any caffeine at all, you must stick to herbals. Decaffeinated black and green teas still have a little bit of caffeine in them, although not much. If you can have a little caffeine, decafs are fine. Ask your doctor if regular tea is OK. It has one third the caffeine of coffee.

About Tea in General

Properly speaking, tea is the beverage brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Its wide variety of incarnations, such as green, black, oolong, and white teas, are created by different processing methods, but all derive ultimately from the same plant. The flavor of tea depends not only upon how the tea was processed, but also upon which part of the world the plant grew, the time of year the leaves were harvested, what the weather was like that season, the soil conditions, altitude, etc.

Tea1Teas may be from one single estate (sometimes called a “garden” or “farm”) or a blend of several different types of tea from various estates. Single estate teas are often more expensive and have unique characteristics particular to that estate for that season. These teas, not unlike fine wines, will vary from year to year, and when that year’s crop has been consumed, it’s just gone, and one must wait until next season to see if the new crop is as good. Blends, on the other hand, are blended so that each year a similar, reliable taste is produced. While these teas don’t have the interesting characteristics of single estate teas, good ones are great every day teas that you can rely on year after year.

Often, teas are blended with other flavorings or scented with various flowers. Rarely are flavored teas produced from single estate teas, as the added flavors can mask the special character of these teas. Jasmine scented teas are an obvious exception and are sometimes made with exquisite green teas. So-called herbal teas are not properly “tea” because they do not contain tea leaves, in other words, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. They are the dried leaves, flowers, or fruits of other various plants, brewed much in the same way as real tea. For the most part, herbals will not contain caffeine and will not get bitter with extended brewing, making them very nice for evenings, traveling, or as drinks for children or those with an intolerance to caffeine. Generally mild and sweet, these also tend to make terrific iced beverages.

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