All About Tea

Tea Facts and History
Types of Teas
Tea and Your Health
Brewing the Tea
Sweetening the Tea
Storing the Tea
Tasting the Tea
All About Iced Tea
Tea and Food Pairings
Tea Comparison Chart

Tea Facts and History
Tea was first brewed as a medicine around 2700 B.C. in the western mountains of China after it was discovered by Shen Nung, the Emperor of China. In the 1400's, the Zen priest, Murato Shuko, created the Japanese tea ceremony, which is called "Cha No Yu," meaning "hot water for tea." Tea drinking also spread to Korea and Southern Asia, and was taken over the Silk Road to Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. Dutch explorers became acquainted with tea in the 1590's and were soon importing tea to Europe.

In 1657 the British East India Company held the first public sale of tea in England, and gradually the British fell in love with tea. It also became popular in America, having been introduced by the Dutch in New Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the Tea Act of 1773 gave the East India Company control of tea trading in America, and they began imposing taxes and levies on the colonists. The colonists objected, and this led to the infamous Boston Tea Party.

In 1904, Richard Blechynden was selling tea at the St. Louis World Fair, and it was so hot that he began selling the tea iced. In 1909, New York merchant Thomas Sullivan sent some tea samples sewn in muslin bags to potential customers. Finding they could brew the tea simply by pouring hot water over the bags, the customers clamored for more, and the tea bag was born.

India is the country with the most tea consumption in the world, averaging 651,000 metric tons per year.

Today, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Iran, Indonesia, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe are all major tea exporters.

Ireland has the highest per capita tea consumption in the world, four cups per person per day, while the United States consumes less than one cup per person per day. The United States does however have the number one consumer of iced tea, consuming between 80% and 85% of the tea in that manner.

Today, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in 80% of U.S. Households; it is the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion.

On any given day, over 127 million Americans are drinking tea, and the South and Northeast have the greatest concentration of tea drinkers.

Instant tea is declining and loose tea is gaining in popularity, especially in specialty retailers and outlets.

2007 was the 15th consecutive year that consumer purchases of tea increased. The industry anticipates strong, continuous growth over the next five years. This growth will come from all segments driven by convenience, interest in the healthy properties of tea and the continued discovery of Specialty Teas.

Types of Teas
Black, Oolong, Green, and White teas all come from the tea bush Camellia Senensis. Rooibos or "red bush" comes from the South African plant Aspalathus Linearis, which has many tea-like properties and is very high in anti oxidants and minerals. Our Herbals are from many different plant sources and are commonly referred to as tisanes. Choose a type below for more detailed information.

Black Tea
Oolong Tea
Green Tea
White Tea
Rooibos or Red Bush

Black Tea
Black Teas all come from the Camellia Senensis bush. After the leaves have been oxidized and turn black, they are then processed in various ways to produce different types of black teas. Compared to the high caffeine content of coffee, black teas have a somewhat lower caffeine level.

Black tea leaves from India are graded according to various criteria; the most important factor is the size of the leaf, and the teas are divided into "broken grades" and "leaf grades". The "broken grades" consist of smaller leaves and broken leaf particles, and are typically used in tea bags. Only about 20 percent of teas produced are of "leaf grades" which are the larger tea leaves. These rarer teas tend to produce liquors that are smoother and lighter though less strong than the broken grades.

Hale Tea's loose teas are high quality, high grown, "leaf grade" teas, falling into this narrow 20% margin.

Black Tea Grades:
OP-Orange Pekoe
The term often used to describe the largest leaf grade for teas from Sri Lanka and occasionally from the south of India.

FOP-Flowery Orange Pekoe
The term used throughout the rest of India to describe the largest tea leaves.

GFOP-Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Flowery Orange Pekoe with golden tips which are the delicate yellow tips of the bud's leaves.

TGFOP-Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Flowery Orange Pekoe with a larger proportion of golden tips than Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe.

FTGFOP-Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Very high quality Flowery Orange Pekoe.

SFTGFOP-Supreme Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange
Very high quality Flowery Orange Pekoe with lots of golden tips.

BOP-Broken Orange Pekoe
Broken size tea leaves.

BOPF-Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings
Tea fibers that are smaller than Broken Orange Pekoe leaves and are commonly found in tea bags.

Oolong Tea
Oolong is semi-oxidized, meaning it is "in-between" green and black teas. After plucking, it is gently rolled, allowing its essential oils to oxidize for a short period, producing a unique brown leaf and a distinctive fragrance. The leaf is then rolled into its final shape. This labor intensive process results in fragrant tea that evokes both black and green tea quantities. When compared to the high caffeine level of coffee, Oolongs have a medium caffeine content.

Green Tea
To produce Green tea, the camellia senensis leaves are dried immediately after being plucked. The leaves are then steamed or fired in an oven, sealing the goodness of the leaf inside. This process stops chemical changes from occurring in the leaf and thus the leaf is never allowed to ferment. With the fermentation process eliminated, the leaf retains its green color and all its natural goodness and beauty. The resulting tea is very delicate.

To prevent cooking the leaves and destroying their subtle notes, green tea should be brewed in water that is well below boiling. Given the high levels of polyphenols, it is believed to provide significant health benefits. Green tea leaves are minimally oxidized and, thus, have less caffeine than Black or Oolong teas.

White Tea
White Tea is the rarest and most delicate tea. It is plucked after the first buds become fully mature yet before the buds open. The buds are then allowed to wither causing the natural moisture to evaporate before being dried in open air. Fine downy white hairs remain on the silver-colored slivers which have a fragrance reminiscent of a delicate orchid. Because it is the least processed of all types of tea, it contains the least amount of natural caffeine, and the most health benefits.

Rooibos - "Red Bush"
Native only to the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa, Rooibos or red bush tea comes from the Aspalathus Linearis plant. Rooibos is said to gain its rich mahogany color from the fresh mountain air and the hot African sun. Although not from the Camellia Senensis bush, Rooibos is processed in much the same way as the tea bush, has many properties similar to tea, and provides even better health benefits. Green Rooibos is unoxidized and is unfermented, and is higher in antioxidants than regular Rooibos.

Rooibos is naturally caffeine free, contains very little tannins and possesses high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals. It contains no preservatives or additives, and is carbohydrate and calorie free. It also contains AHA for a healthy skin.

Herbal "teas" or tisanes are not from the camellia senensis plant. Like Rooibos, Herbals are naturally caffeine free. Fragrant and pleasing to the eye and taste buds, Hale Tea offers three herbals: Honeybush Organic, Indian Summer Fruit Blend and Chamomile Flowers.

Tea and Your Health
Please note the information on these pages is for your information only and does not purport to make any health claims.

Tea is a refreshing beverage that contains no sodium, fat, carbonation,
or sugar; it is virtually calorie-free.*
*Negligible amount of calories come from the fruit pieces in certain teas.

Tea helps maintain proper body fluid balance and may contribute to overall good health.

Tea contains flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds that are believed to have antioxidant properties.

Consumption of tea is being studied for its exciting and positive contributions to:
  • Enhancing immune function
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
  • Increasing HDL cholesterol levels
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Thinning the blood
  • Reducing the risk of a heart attack
  • Lowering the risk of stroke
  • Reducing the risk of cancer
  • Boosting bone health
  • Aiding digestion and weight loss
  • Preventing dental cavities and gingivitis
  • The absorption of iron and zinc
New studies point to evidence that tea has healing properties. While all tea is healthy to drink, green tea contains the highest level of polyphenols, which are known for their antioxidant activity.

Regular consumption of green tea is currently being studied for possible contributions to both cancer treatment and prevention.

A recent study concluded that green tea consumption may reduce the risk of liver disease.

White tea has been studied for its benefits to the immune system and results indicate that white tea may assist the body in fighting off viruses and bacteria.

White tea, while lower in fluoride than black or green tea, may be beneficial in preventing the growth of dental plaque.

Green and white tea combined with mangosteen and pomegranate may reduce the effects of age-related skin changes.

Research indicates that drinking black tea may assist in lowering stress hormones and in aiding stress recovery.

Of the many teas available from white to green to black, Rooibos or Red Bush Tea from South Africa by far delivers the most health benefits:
  • Antispasmodic
  • Soothes babies' colic/griping pains and helps against diaper rash
  • Soothes stomach pains and digestion problems such as nausea, vomiting and heartburn
  • It has a healing effect in cases of skin rash, eczema and acne
  • Soothes allergic reactions such as hay fever or asthma
  • Antioxidants reduce the negative destroying effects of the free radicals in the body
  • Favors a healthy skin
  • Helps to reduces insomnia
  • Aids in weight loss and digestion
Studies of the polyphenols in Rooibos indicate they may help protect against free radicals. Limiting the impact of free radicals may assist in cancer prevention, and decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Rooibos is also being studied for use in treatment for chronic liver disease.

Brewing the Tea
If you are in a hurry or just need a quick cup, there's no "wrong' way to brew your tea, but we've outlined the ideal brewing process for the perfect cup of tea. Take note that water temperature and steep times vary by type of tea:

The best tea is prepared using filtered or bottled spring water with a natural mineral content. Distilled water is not recommended. Fresh water contains more oxygen which enhances the taste of the tea. It is important to preheat the pot or cup in which the tea will be steeped. If hot water is poured into a cold cup or pot, the temperature of the water will drop too quickly and full flavor of the tea will not be extracted.

One rounded teaspoon of dry leaves for each 6 ounce cup of tea is recommended. However, remember to adjust the amount of dry leaves depending on the leaf size of the tea: larger, wiry leaf teas (oolongs and whites) will require twice as much tea to compensate for their lack of density.

The water temperature is also dependent on the type of tea: black, oolong, and herbal teas are best prepared with water that has come to full, rolling boil (214ºF); green and white teas should not be prepared with boiling water; the finer the tea, the lower the temperature.

The time it takes for tea to brew depends on the leaf size. The smaller the leaf, the faster the tea infuses. The tea should be brewed for a minimum of three minutes.

Sweetening the Tea
Sugar, honey, or sugar substitutes of your choice can all be used to sweeten your tea. Our staff suggests tasting our flavored teas before you sweeten them; the pieces of real fruit and berries in many of our teas provide a wonderful flavor that doesn't need to be sweetened! Try squeezing fresh lime or lemon into tea or adding fresh mint for enhanced flavor.

Storing the Tea
To preserve its freshness as long as possible, tea should be stored in a cool, dry place, in a container that is opaque and airtight. Since tea absorbs other odors very easily, it is important to store it away from any strong-smelling foods. It is not recommended that you refrigerate or freeze teas.

Tasting the Tea
Tea tasting, much like wine tasting, involves three senses: sight, smell, and taste. The colors of the tea will vary greatly and the darker colored teas usually indicate a more robust brew, while the lighter teas will have a more delicate flavor. Distinguishing aromas of different teas can be difficult, and may take practice to be able to describe the aroma. As with wine, tea will have an initial taste, the taste when it is in your mouth, and an after taste. Make sure you hold the tea in your mouth and swirl it around to allow even distribution of the taste. The more teas you try, the better you will become at savoring distinct flavors and aromas.

All about Iced Tea
All of Hale Tea Company's teas are designed to be enjoyed hot but we have many selections that make excellent iced teas. We recommend the following for your iced tea refreshment:
Black Tea Peach Black Tea Raspberry
Black Tea Passion Fruit Black Tea Apricot
Green Tea Mint Green Tea Mangosteen
White Tea Acai Blueberry Rooibos Colada
Rooibos Peach Rooibos Island Breeze
Rooibos Pomegranate Rooibos Super Grade Organic
Rooibos Fruits of the Forest Green Rooibos Serengeti
Green Rooibos Rising Sun Green Rooibos Mirabelle Cream
Indian Summer Fruit Blend Honeybush

To brew one glass of iced tea using loose tea, simply steep the tea in less water. You may want to add additional tea for stronger flavor. Our recommendation is to steep a rounded teaspoon of tea in 3 or 4 oz of water. After steeping, allow tea to cool. Add ice and water to taste.

For brewing larger quantities of iced tea, please see our Bodum Tea Jugs available in the accessories section of our website. Crafted to work with loose teas, these jugs allow you to brew, fill and serve up to three liters of iced tea in one convenient container. Also, a product such as Mr. Coffee’s Ice Tea Maker (available at various retail outlets including Wal-Mart, $19.95) can be used to brew loose leaf iced tea. You can also use your coffee maker in the same way you use it to brew coffee. We don’t recommend using the same pot for both your tea and coffee but if you must, give your coffee pot a vinegar rinse prior to brewing tea to ensure your tea flavor isn’t compromised.

We suggest using 2 heaped tablespoons of loose tea to brew a quart of iced tea. You can always adjust the amount of tea for stronger or weaker brew. If using a coffee maker, a 12 cup pot will make a half gallon of iced tea. Fill with water to the 12 cup line and place 4 heaped Tablespoons in the filter as you would with coffee. Once brewed, add sugar or other sweetener to taste and allow to cool. You will not need to add water.

Tea and Food Pairings
Tea is a universal beverage that can be paired with many different types of food, and at any time of the day. Tea can be paired with a variety of foods to enhance the flavors in much the same way as wine is paired with food. Teas can be paired to sweet and savory items, and can create a marriage of flavors to delight the palate and the senses. Use your own taste, imagination and desired caffeine intake to make your pairings. Our general recommendations include:

White Teas Delicate in flavor, white teas are excellent after a meal, or with a light refreshment or snack.
Green Teas Light and refreshing, green teas are perfect with seafood, salad or chicken, or after a meal.
Oolongs Enjoy oolongs with traditional Chinese food, fish and other seafood.
Black Teas Rich foods deserve a robust tea. Pair black teas with beef, pork or spicy foods such as Indian or Mexican offerings. Also with breakfast foods such as bread, cheeses, eggs and breakfast meats.
Rooibos Naturally caffeine free and excellent iced, flavored red bush teas enhance summer meals and fruit.

Tea Comparison Chart

TEA BUSH Camellia Senensis Camellia Senensis Camellia Senensis Camellia Senensis Aspalathus linearis

*Compared to a cup of coffee
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