When you hear the word “tea”, what comes to mind? For most people it’s visions of grocery store tea bags or a pot of Red Rose on their grandmother’s stovetop, but there is so much more to those three little letters than we realize.
Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and though it brings people together in so many ways it’s origin and proper preparation is still a mystery for most. Much of the tea you have tasted in your lifetime was likely burnt, over-steeped, or not quite the right ratio of leaves to water, but today we’re here to help clarify that confusion and lead you to the perfect cup of tea!
To start, it’s important to understand where tea comes from. All tea begins with a single plant, Camellia Sinensis, and from there the leaves and buds are processed with various forms of fermentation and drying to create different flavour profiles, leaf shapes and caffeine levels. Herbal teas such as rooibos and peppermint are technically not tea as they do not come from this plant, and that’s why they don’t follow the same steeping guidelnes or contain caffeine.
There’s so much to know about tea that it can easily become overwhelming, so we’ve broken some key points down into parts below for simpler study.
Black tea leaves are the most processed of all the tea varieties and though the process sometimes varies depending on the region, it entails withering, rolling, oxidation and drying. Black tea’s high level of tannins give it the pleasant astringent and full bodied quality. These teas are typically enjoyed as breakfast teas or mid-afternoon pick me ups, most hold up well to milk and taste delicious with a spoonful of sugar!
Sloane’s black teas most often come from India, Sri Lanka (often referred to as Ceylon) and China.
We recommend steeping black teas for 4-5 minutes with fully boiled water (100˚C / 212˚F).
Some of our best sellers include: Heavenly Cream, Earl Grey Classic and Signature Black.
Oolong teas are partially oxidized teas. These teas contain a mid to high level of caffeine and we always recommend for these teas to be savoured straight.
Oolong tea leaves, although sometimes rolled into balls or curled, remain long and intact during processing. If an infuser is used when steeping an oolong tea, it’s highly recommended for it to be large and spacious as the tea leaves require ample space to unfurl and release their full flavour. The processing style of oolong tea makes it uniquely qualified for multiple infusions, meaning the same teaspoon of leaves can be steeped repeatedly (sometimes 4-5 times), releasing a beautiful and unique flavour each time.
Sloane’s oolong teas come from Taiwan and China.
We recommend steeping oolong teas for 3-4 minutes with water that has just come off the boil (90˚C / 195˚F).
Some of our best sellers include: Oolong Crème, Blood Orange Oolong and Orchid Oolong.
Green teas are categorized by the region in which they originate. Chinese green teas such as Mao Feng are roasted after being harvested whereas Japanese green teas such as Sencha are steamed. These two processes greatly affect flavour and colour. Green teas contain a moderate to low level of caffeine, and the caffeine content is uniquely paired with an amino acid called L-theanine. Research suggests the pairing of caffeine and L-theanine boosts cognitive brain function while reducing anxiety.
We recommend for green teas to be savoured straight.
Sloane’s green teas most often come from China and Japan.
We recommend steeping green teas for 2-3 minutes with water that has just come off the boil (79˚C / 175˚F).
Some of our best sellers include: Tropical Green, Grand Gen Mai Cha and Jasmine Mist.
White teas are the most delicate of the tea varieties, made from the most young and tender buds. The buds undergo the least amount of processing which allows them to maintain their delicately floral and distinctly sweet taste.
Though white tea is the least processed of all teas, it still contains a high level of caffeine as its natural defense mechanism against penetration by insects is to concentrate the caffeine and make itself bitter to insects.
Sloane’s white teas most often come from China.
We recommend steeping white teas for 3-4 minutes with water that has just come off the boil (85˚C / 185˚F).
Some of our best sellers include: Peaches And Cream, Perfectly Pear and White Jasmine Ice.
The term “herbal tea” refers to a tea infusion which does not originate from the camellia sinensis plant. These teas can be made up of most anything from fruits, herbs, spices, nuts, flowers etc. For the most part, these ingredients are by nature caffeine free.
Herbal teas can steep for 5-6 mins in fully boiled water and are well suited to steeping via tea bags or filters. The profile of herbal teas vary depending on the ingredients used, and there are a variety of infusers suitable for herbal teas including, tea bags, french press, mesh tea balls or pincer spoons.
Some of our best sellers include: Citron Calm, Ginger Twist, Ginger Turmeric
Grown only in South Africa, rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans and is so called due to the colour of its processed leaf. Rich in vitamin C, mineral salts, proteins, and hugely abundant with antioxidants, rooibos based teas are naturally caffeine free and are often referred to as herbal teas.
Due to rooibos’ refined leaf size, rooibos based teas require an infuser with a very fine mesh filter so as to minimize the smaller leaf particles from passing through. Alternatively, a tea filter or bag is also recommended.
We recommend steeping rooibos based teas for 5-6 minutes with fully boiled water (100˚C / 212˚F).
Some of our best sellers include: Vanilla Bean Rooibos, Rouge Provence and Celebration Medley.
We hope to have helped guide you through our wonderful world of tea! Leave your tea questions in the comments below!