Frequently Asked Questions

Shipping

Do you ship tea outside the US?

We ship tea to anywhere in the world. Our mission is to offer our value to everyone around the world, so we are willing to learn how to ship anywhere. Please be patient if we are shipping tea to you outside the US as the process may take a little longer.

How long does it take to ship tea?

Tea that is shipping through the Global Tea Taster subscription service are sent by the 5th of the month of shipment and should take 3-5 business days to arrive to US addresses. Allow long time for shipment for international addresses. Tea that is shipping through our marketplace is drop shipped from the grower so more time is required for the tea to reach the customer. Shipments have typically taken 10-12 business days to ship, but there is variation. Please have patience as we streamline our systems and cut down the shipping times for your tea.

Payment

Do you accept credit card or Paypal?

Our marketplace currently accepts only credit cards.

Health Benefits of Drinking Tea

What are the health benefits of tea?

There are a variety of health benefits of tea, ranging from cancer prevention, brain function improvement and weight loss. According to an article in WedMD titled Types of Tea and Their Benefits these benefits were listed by tea:

Caffeine of Tea

Does all tea naturally have caffeine?

Camellia sinensis (the plant that produces tea leaves) naturally produces caffeine. The leaves produce the compound as a defense mechanism to its environment. For this reason tea produces high amounts of caffeine during the cold season. When the Spring arrives and the trees go out of hibernation the shoots that grow contain a heightened level of caffeine. For these reason first flush teas typically contain more caffeine than leaves that are harvested later in the season such as Summer and Fall months.

It is interesting to note that teas harvested later in the season in Japan such as bancha and houjicha are naturally caffeine-free and are often drank by children and at night before sleeping. Although there are many factors that affect the caffeine level of tea including harvest time, process type, and brewing method it has been found the order of tea types of most caffeine to least caffeine is white tea, black tea, oolong tea, and green tea.

(Friedman, M., Kim, S.-Y., Lee, S.-J., Han, G.-P., Han, J.-S., Lee, K.-R. and Kozukue, N. (2005), Distribution of Catechins, Theaflavins, Caffeine, and Theobromine in 77 Teas Consumed in the United States. Journal of Food Science, 70: C550?C559. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2005.tb08304.x)

Are there caffeine-free teas?

Teas that are harvested later in the season typically have a lower level of caffeine. For Japanese teas bancha and houjicha are naturally caffeine-free. There is also a process to decaffeinate tea, but none of the growers in the Tealet network are currently utilizing this process.

Tea Sourcing

How do you source your teas?

We source all our teas from growers that we are personally connected with around the world. Most of the growers have been connected to us via a non-profit organization out of Japan called the International Tea Farms Alliance. This organization's mission is to create bridges between tea farmers and tea lovers. As you can imagine since meeting these farmers we have been inspired and have adopted a similar mission at Tealet.

Learn about Elyse's experience at ITFA and read the blog entries.

We are open to connect with more growers, so if you are interested in working with us, or know of a grower please don't hesitate to contact us at info@tealet.com.

We plan on contining to travel around the world to connect with more growers and tell their stories.

Where do you source your teas?

We are currently working with growers in Hawaii, Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Every day we discover new growers and are developing new relationships with independent farmers in Africa, the US, and all over Asia.

Tea Processing

How is tea made?

Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant which is documented as originating in China. Only the top two leaves and shoot are harvested to process drinking tea. Depending on the type of tea that is processed these harvested leaves will then be fermented in order to release tannins from chlorophyll. The fermentation process is stopped by either pan frying or steam heating. White teas and green teas are not fermented, so the natural fermentation process is stopped immediately after harvest.

The leaves are then rolled either by hand or mechanically, a process that can take a considerable amount of time. After rolling the tea is then dried. Once dried the leaves resemble what tea drinkers are used to in the market.

Is any tea being produced in the US?

There is tea produced in many places in the US included Hawaii, California, Washington, and South Carolina. Although South Carolina is producing the most tea, Hawaii is producing the most specialty tea (non-commodity tea). Tea in Hawaii is grown as a boutique crop in a number of gardens on Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kauai. The state, university system, and agriculture community are excited to increase plant material in the state. Many propose that tea should remain a boutique crop and should be planted in underutilized, marginal agriculture land. Hawaii Grown Tea is very difficult to find because of the low supply, but don't be surprised if you start to see it more often as more growers are improving their techniques and increasing their supply.

Why aren't all the growers in the Tealet network certified organic?

Tealet does not require that each grower must be USDA certified organic. Tealet does require that each grower disclose their agriculture and business practices in order to encourage transparency in the marketplace. We understand the difficulty that many farmers face around the world to afford organic certification or to maintain 100% organic practices. We feel that educating the consumer about these challenges will create trust. Also, we stress the importance of organic and sustainable practices to our growers and they are realizing how conscious US consumers are becoming. Many of our growers are in transition to organic certification.

Why does the shading of Japanese green teas make them expensive?

Shading tea trees blocks out the sun and allows the newly growing shoots to mature in a different method. The lack of sun brings out more savory and sweet notes. Gyokuro and Kabuse Sencha are both shaded green teas of Japan which are known for their lack of bitterness and distinct umami flavor. Shading trees requires a high investment of materials and labor for growers, so these teas a higher end and usually cost more than standard Japanese Senchas.

What are the differences between green teas?

There are a variety of green teas produced in the world. In Japan alone there is Shincha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Kabuse, Houjicha, Matcha, Genmaicha, and Bancha. Each type of tea is processed based on the leaves that were harvested. For first or second flush high quality teas producers tend to make higher end senchas. Leaves harvested later in the season that may be bitterer and less taste will be processed as banchas and houjichas to bring out more sweetness in the tea by roasting the dried leaves. Genmaicha is also a tea processed to bring out the sweetness in the tea by adding roasted brown rice.

What is the difference between green and black tea?

All true teas, white, green, black, and oolong teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference in the teas is the way in which the leaves are processed. White tea is the lease processed of all the teas. Leaves are rolled and dried right after harvest without fermentation. This locks in the green, soft taste of the young leaves. Most growers will use the very young leaves that have little white hairs on the dried leaves. This is why the tea is called white. A very fresh white tea must have these short white hairs on it.

Green tea is also lightly processed, and only fresh leaves are used in its processing. There is also no fermentation that occurs after harvesting. Green tea is produced in many different regions in the world, and each region has their own take on the process. Leaves are either pan or steam heated during the rolling process, which results in different characteristics of the final tea.

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea, which means that it is left to naturally oxidize after harvest. This oxidation process brings out aromatic characteristics and sweet notes. Oolong teas do not require full oxidation, so the oxidation process must be stopped with either pan frying or steam heating. Following this process the tea is rolled and dried as usual.

Black tea is fully fermented, meaning that it is allowed to oxidize 100%. At this point all of the tea's chlorophyll has released their tannin compounds. This causes the leaves to darken in color and makes the tea's flavor more sweet and less bitter.

Tea Quality

How does water temperature affect the brewing of tea?

Just like any other chemical reaction the temperature of the environment is one of the most factors in the reaction's speed. Higher temperature water will cause the release of flavors and other compounds in the tea to speed up. The faster the reaction happens the more flavor that will be released in the tea. This is why tea can often taste bitter when it has been over brewed with hot water, it contains more caffeine. Caffeine is a very bitter compound that is highly affected by temperature.

In a Suny Oneonta experiment it was found that at 77°F 22 mg/ml of caffeine is released, at 176°F 180 mg/ml is released, and at 212°F (boiling point) 670 mg/ml is released. You can see that there is a significant difference in caffeine content when the water temperature is allowed to cool after boiling.

How do you taste a good tea?

There are a number of certifications and classes for professional tasting of tea. At Tealet we believe that the best way that you can learn how to taste tea is to experience it for yourself. While tasting tea be sure to note the way in which the tea was brewed. Water temperature, steeping time, and tea amount can significantly affect the taste of the tea. Before tasting try to smell the aroma of the tea and break it down to try to identify familiar scents. Most of the flavor of any food exists in the aroma because our nose can identify thousands of volatile compounds while our tongue can only identify five different tastes. When you drink the tea for tasting try to sip in just a small bit and allow the tea to cover your entire tongue.

Sipping the tea and taking in air will help you taste all the delicate subtleties of the tea. That was the formal way to taste tea, but the best way to taste it is to drink it as you like and enjoy it as you like. You know your own tongue and nose, use it as you like.

How long does tea stay good?

Tea should be consumed as quickly as possible to ensure that you enjoy the full flavor of the tea. Oxygen and time can affect the quality of tea. If your tea is packaged in an air tight container and stored in a cool place the tea should stay good for over 6 months. Because Matcha is ground tea and the surface area of the tea is increased its quality degrades faster. To preserve Matcha for longer store in the freezer before use.

How should tea be stored?

Tea should be stored in an air-tight container in a cool environment. Matcha should be stored in the freezer or refrigerator if needed.

How many cups does 50 grams of tea typically brew?

50 grams of tea can produce about 50 cups of tea. This number will change based on the number of times yousteep each time and the size of your cups.

Tea Distribution

How is tea currently distributed around the world?

The distribution of tea around the world is BIG business. Like all other global commerce centralized corporate systems have found economies of scale in shipping large amounts of tea around the world. A tea grower, independent or corporate, typically sells their raw leaves to corporate brokers and processors. These large companies usually bulk together leaves from a similar region, diluting the unique quality that each grower presented with their leaves. These leaves are then processed mechanically and blended further with other teas in order to balance the teas characteristics. This process helps the company produce a consistent product.

The processed tea will then be traded around the world, sometimes traveling the global many times over before making it to the retailer. Retailers then receive the tea wholesale. In order to add value so that the retailer can make a profit many tea shops in the US have adopted the practice of making special blends. These blends dilute the quality of the true tea even more. The best way to experience tea for its true quality is to connect directly with the grower. The grower takes pride in their work if they are connected directly with their customer.

Tea Culture

Is tea culture the same around the world?

Tea is the world's second most popular beverage after water. Asian cultures are the largest consumers of tea, but its popularity has spread to all corners of the globe. Although everyone is drinking a beverage from the same plant each culture has their own appreciation and tradition for tea. Even within Asian cultures the practice of tea can vary from country to country. China and Japan have their own version of the tea ceremony. Japan has built an entire discipline around their tea ceremony which is focused on Matcha, ground Sencha tea. In China tea is drank very differently, as with Taiwan and Sri Lanka. One thing is consistent between cultures around the world; community. Although everyone has their own way to consume tea we all use it to bond with others and experience tea together.

What culture drinks the most tea?

Middle Eastern cultures by far drink the most tea. Topping the list on Wikipedia's List of countries by tea consumption per capita? is the United Arab Emirates at 220 oz of tea per capita per year followed by Morocco. Next on the list is Ireland followed by United Kingdom in 7th position. It is no surprise that Middle Eastern countries top this list because tea has become an important part of Muslim culture. Tea is often consumed throughout the day as each person in the group takes their turn to brew a pot. The first Asian country on the list is Hong Kong at position 12, consuming 50 oz of tea per capita per year.

When and why did people stop drinking tea in the US?

Tea used to be an important part of American culture from the migration of people from Great Britain. In the 1760's Great Britain imposed the Tea Act which gave power to a monopoly to control the trade of tea to America and allowed law makers to impose arbritrary tax on tea. They thought they could get away with it because people were so dependent upon their tea addition. Americans were not happy with this decision which led to the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 where colonists dressed by Native Americans and boarded a tea trading ship to dump 342 chests of tea into the Ocean. It was from this point forward that tea left American culture and was soon taken over by coffee.

Tea Taste Program

How does the Global Tea Taster service work?

GTT is a bimonthly tea curation service where you will receive a variety of teas directly from the grower. We will include the stories of each of these growers and allow you to connect with them on our marketplace. You can learn more about their communities and buy tea directly from them. GTT shipments are sent by the 5th of the month of every shipment. The shipment schedule is August, October, December, February, April, and June. If you sign up for the program between shipment months you will be sent your first shipment on the next shipment. Members can sign up for one shipment, three shipments, and six shipments. The longer a member commits to the service the more of a discount they will receive on each shipment.