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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What's the best way to steep tea? How much tea leaf do I use? What temperature water should I use to steep tea? How long should I steep my tea?

You may not realize it, but all of these questions are related. The process to brew great tea requires just a few simple directions, great tea leaves, and something to hold the loose tea. Once you have an infuser you'll need to know how much tea leaf to put inside it.

The amount of tea leaf you use per cup is uniform for almost all tea leaf types, about a level spoonful, assuming the tea is a normal weight/volume. Some teas, white teas especially, are light for their volume and you may have to use as much as 2 spoonfuls for an 8 oz. cup. Also the more tea you are brewing at a time, the less tea leaf you'll find you need for the same water measurement. For example a mug might take a spoonful of tea leaves, but a pot 4 times the size of that mug will often only take two or three spoonfuls, and not the four spoonfuls you might expect. When in doubt, use less tea leaf. It's a very common mistake for new tea steeper’s to think that more tea leaf is going to make better tea, it is rarely ever true.

Once you have in your possession a good way to control the tea leaves, the next thing you'll need is water. Water free of lime, impurities, and other unwanted elements makes better tea because there is less to interfere with the taste of your tea. If your tap water does not taste good, then use filtered or bottled water. (I say to use cold water because a typical hot water heater will often add contaminants and reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, which is needed for flavor extraction). Just do what you can to make sure your water is as fresh and pure as possible to bring out the best tea it can, though you never want to use distilled water for tea, it just tastes flat.

With tea leaves, and infuser, and water, now you simply need to heat the water. If there is a trick to making great tea, water temperature is the trick. Different types of tea do better at different water temperatures. So you'll need to know what type of tea you are steeping, and then you can identify its best water temperature, and also the best length of time for steeping. The water temperature does not have to be exact. The main thing to remember is to not use boiling water for Green or White teas. They will burn and create bitter flavors.

You can use any kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of your water, and once you know what the lower temperatures look like most people can just monitor the water as it heats and don't need to measure as much. Do not boil the water for a long period of time because this too will deplete the water of oxygen. Pre-heating your pot or cup will allow the tea to steep at the proper temperature.

A good way to guess at the water temperature without a thermometer is to bring the water to a boil, and wait about 30 seconds (for white tea) or 60 seconds (for green tea) before pouring over the leaves.

The amount of time that the tea steeps will determine it's strength. I would suggest that when you buy a new tea, as it is steeping, check the taste every minute with a spoon. Let the first cup steep until it's either too strong or you notice bitter elements that are unpleasant. Then take note of when the tea tastes best to you and write it on the package. Besides, who can tell you how you like your tea better than you!

We've created this handy table for your reference when steeping loose tea:

TEA TYPE

TEMP. AMOUT PER
6-8 oz. SERVING
STEEP TIME
White 175-185 1 tablespoon 1-3 minutes
Green 185 1 teaspoon 2-3 minutes
Black 206 1 teaspoon 3-5 minutes
Darjeeling 185 1 teaspoon 3 minutes
Oolong Long Leaf 185-206 1 tablespoon 3-5 minutes
Botanical Infusions/
Tisane
206 1 tablespoon 5-7 minutes
Raw Pu-erh 195 1 tablespoon

First soak for 30 seconds then flush.
3-5 minutes

After you have steeped your tea, you can remove the tea leaves from the water. For most high quality tea leaves, such as the ones sold on this site, you should be able to brew a second (and even third or fourth) cup from those same tea leaves. Some types of tea take this better than others, and some, such as White and Oolong teas, were specially produced to be used several times.

As always, all of the above are simply guidelines. How you think your tea is steeped best is how your tea is steeped best, no matter what we say. Always feel free to find your own method, and never feel constrained by us or anyone. Tea is for personal enjoyment, and as long as you enjoy your tea, you're doing it correctly!

What is the difference between black and green tea? What is oolong? What is white tea?

Customers often ask us these questions without realizing that all these kinds of true tea comes from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, a relative of our common variety garden flowering Camellia plant. Herbal infusions yerba mate, and other beverages are from a complete different plants. The different types of true tea are the result of differing oxidation levels that the tea leaves undergo during proecessing after being picked green from the Camellia sinenis plant.

All tea leaves are the same when they are picked, commonly from som varietal of the Camerllia sinensis plant, originally native to China, but a close relative of which is found native in the foothills of the Himalayas. Once picked, the leaves are delicately treated until they reach the processing location. The first step for all tea leaves is withering, which allows the leaves to be processed into useable tea leaves.

After withering, the next step of the processing defines the type of tea the leaves will become, as show in this chart:

What is orange pekoe and do you have any?

Orange pekoe is part of a grading system for tea leaves, once used for all tea sold to the West, but now primarily used in India and Sri Lanka. This grading system also includes the words "flowery," "golden," "tippy," "finest," and "special," and the system results in letter classifications when abbreviated, such as TGFOP ("tippy golden finest orange pekoe"). Often people ask us for this tea name when they have been drinking boxed tea labeled "orange pekoe," not realizing that the term refers not at all to the tea's flavor.

If you are looking for a nice black tea, smooth and ready to drink in the morning, we suggest our English or Irish Breakfast or the Ceylon Sonata. Both are great examples of a classic black tea, refreshing and soothing, reminiscent of mother's kitchen.

With what is tea flavored or scented?

Tea is flavored and scented with tea scent; scented with flavors extracted from their natural sources whenever possible. Sometimes the flavor agent cannot be directly extracted and must be recreated using extracts from other foods. Many teas have fruit bits added to enhance the flavor.  Some teas use chemically created scents or natural scents augmented with chemical agents. We feel these chemically-scented teas taste metallic and flat and do not represent the best a tea can be and therefore they are not found at Leaves Of Tea.

We are always ecstatic to find a new flavored tea to add to our list, but if you find we do not carry a flavored tea you are looking for, please let us know. If we can find the tea naturally-flavored, we are often happy to carry it.

How much caffeine is in tea?

The amount of caffeine in tea depends greatly on the water temperature at which you brew the tea. For a standard black tea, brewed with boiling water for three minutes (our recommended time and temperature for black tea), you'll get about 50 mg of caffeine per cup. Green tea at 170° F for two minutes will produce about 30 mg per cup. By comparison, drip coffee has about 100 to 130 mg of caffeine per cup.
Herbal tea is naturally caffeine-free, and decaffeinated teas often have less than 10 mg per cup.

Our Return Policy

We want you to be happy with all the items you ordered, and will gladly accept back any item that was purchased within 30 days of receipt that you do not wish to keep, with the exception of tea or tea samples. Unfortunately, we do not cover the cost of shipping the unwanted items back to us.

PLEASE NOTE: If you return your product for any other reason other than damage or company error, we will gladly assist you with refund for these items less a 40% disposal fee. Store credit at the full value is also an option. No refund will be made for shipping charges. Product must be returned to us.

What do I do if I receive damaged items?
If an item in your order/your order arrives damaged, please email us with your order ID, items damaged, and nature of damage. We will be more than happy to assist you with replacing this item, or providing a refund or store credit. Shipping charges will not be applied to replacement shipments.

If I received an incorrect item in my order; what do I do?
If an item was shipped to you incorrectly due to company error, we will be more than happy to assist you with resolving this problem. Please email us with your order ID and the incorrect item. Shipping charges will not be applied to replacement shipments.

What is a disposal fee and why does it apply?
A disposal fee of 40% applies to tea that have been opened, tried, and returned due to customer's dislike of the product. Since the product is no longer usable for resale, the fee covers a small percentage of the company's loss. Due to health code reasons, we must dispose any tea returned to us. We advise trying sample sizes before buying large quantities of any tea.

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