New to Tea?
- Why Praise Tea?
- Types of tea
- Heal-TEA benefits
- How to prepare
- Proper storage
- Iced tea
- History of tea
New to Tea?
Tea has been consumed for several thousand years. Tea is consumed each year around the world than any other beverage. So why not try out nature's most delicious resource?
If you are new to tea, let us help you select some delicious gourmet teas based on your taste and health preferences. You may be thinking, why bother with loose leaf tea when tea bags are more convenient? Praise Tea loose teas are much higher quality than tea bags and the taste alone is often reason enough for people to drink loose leaf teas. And loose tea can be very simple and quick to make with a few key items.
First, let’s start choosing a tea. There are certainly many types of tea, from white and green tea to black teas. A tea blended with fruits is a good place to start. Dried fruits like strawberries and blueberries can add extra vitamins to tea. Some beginner tea drinkers may like the taste (and smell!) of flowers in their tea. Flowers like jasmine, lavender, and roses can really enhance the experience of drinking tea by adding a full and fragrant aroma. Below are a few popular teas for beginners.
You can also approach selecting teas by the type of tea. Consider loose leaf black teas if you regularly drink bagged tea. Familiar black teas like Earl Grey and English breakfast are great choices. If you don’t want the bold flavor of a black tea, white teas have a much lighter and more subtle flavor. One great thing about white teas, aside from the high amount of antioxidants, is it has very low levels of caffeine.
Perhaps you are looking for a tea for weight loss, or a tea that makes a good coffee replacement. Please see our other recommended teas to find a tea that’s right for you.
After you have selected some loose teas, you may be wondering how to actually brew the tea. One of the simplest ways to make tea is with the Smart Tea Steeper. Just add your loose tea and water, steep for the appropriate time, and dispense the tea right into a tea cup or mug. It is important to note that the water temperature and steep time will affect how your tea will taste. For example, boiling water is too hot for white and green teas and will make them taste bitter. Letting the tea leaves sit for too long in water can also make your tea taste bitter or harsh.
Consider the following tea accessories from our Loose Leaf Tea Collection to get started with brewing loose leaf tea at home:
• Smart Tea Maker – comes in 16oz size, perfect for making one serving of tea at a time, or 32oz, so you can make tea for two.
• Perfect Tea Spoon – a handy way to measure out tea leaves or sweetener.
• Perfect Tea Mug – dispense your tea directly from the Perfect Tea Maker into a clear glass mug to enjoy the colors of your tea.
After you have acquired a taste for loose teas, you may want to experiment with different flavor combinations of tea blends. Or, if you developed a preference for a particular type of tea, like green tea, you may want to try a straight, unflavored tea, such as Dragonwell green tea. Soon you may find that brewing loose tea in a ceramic or cast iron teapot can affect how your tea tastes. These are just a few of the many ways you can make drinking each cup of tea a unique (and delicious!) experience.
There are a number of reasons, but they all come back to quality. We store them properly to preserve quality and freshness. We wouldn't want to drink stale tea, let alone sell it to you! All tea has an expiration date. Tea will lose flavor after 6 months and become stale after one year if not stored properly (see our Tea Storage Tins to keep tea fresh). In addition to that, tea bags usually consist of smaller pieces of tea leaves or tea fanning (also referred to as dusts) that give a stronger, quicker brew, but lack the subtlety and fine quality of larger loose-leaf teas. Tea bags can also release too much tannin quickly, giving a harsher flavor to the tea.
Only the freshest teas are available. We only offer fresh teas, never old, never stale. We always choose teas that have the highest quality ingredients. From the best flush of tea from the gardens, to the nuts and fruits in our herbal tisanes, every ingredient in our teas is of high quality and chosen because they add something (flavor, aroma, or health benefits) to a tea. We believe in selling the best, every time.
And we really love tea. Our loose-leaf teas are always made with premium, larger leaves and you can easily see the quality of your final tea blend. Loose-leaf teas also allow you to blend flavors and types of tea easily.
All teas come from the same plant called Camellia sinensis. The thousands of different varieties of teas available in the world only vary on the region it was grown, the time of year picked, and the processing method. The differences stem from how they are processed.
How the leaves are processed will determine their final classification. The main categories of tea are White, Green, Oolong, and Black. We also sell Herbal tisanes or infusions, sometimes called herbal tea, which do not actually contain the Camellia sinensis plant.
The main difference between the many tea varieties is how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing. Much oxygen produces dark-colored black teas. Little oxygen results in green tea. Unprocessed leaves are called white tea.
Each type of tea has its own characteristics including a different taste, differing health benefits, and even different levels of caffeine.
is produced on a very limited scale in China and India. It is the purest and least processed of all teas. The new tea buds are plucked before they open and simply allowed to dry. The curled-up buds have a silvery appearance and produce a pale and very delicate cup of tea. White tea has very little caffeine and brews a light color and flavor. White teas also contain the highest antioxidant properties (helps to detoxify and fight cancer), help lower your cholesterol level, and are the best for skin and complexion. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual white teas.
is the most popular type of tea. It is often referred to as "unfermented" tea. The freshly picked leaves are allowed to dry, then are heat-treated to stop any fermentation (also referred to as oxidation). In China, traditional hand-making methods are still employed in many places, particularly in the manufacture of the finest green teas you'll find offered here. Often Green tea is mixed with fruits or scented with flowers to create flavored or scented Green teas. This tea has only 5-10% the caffeine in coffee. Green tea is also high in antioxidants (helps to detoxify and fight cancer), helps lower blood pressure, fight gingivitis and cavities, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Green teas should be steeped at a much lower temperature than boiling. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual green teas.
is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet aroma. It is generally referred to as "semi-fermented" tea which gives it approximately 15% of the caffeine in one cup of coffee. Oolong is principally manufactured in China and Taiwan (often called Formosa). For the manufacture of oolongs, the leaves are wilted in direct sunlight, then shaken in bamboo baskets to lightly bruise the edges. Next, the leaves are spread out to dry until the surface of the leaf turns slightly yellow. Oolongs are always whole leaf teas, never broken by rolling. The least fermented of oolong teas, almost green in appearance, is called Pouchong. Oolong teas promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism rate and aid in digestion by breaking down oils and fats. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual oolong teas.
undergoes a full fermentation process composed of four basic steps - withering, rolling, fermenting, and firing (or drying). So it has approximately 20% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee. First, the plucked leaves are spread out to wither. The withered leaves are then rolled, in order to release the chemicals within the leaf that are essential to its final color and flavor. The rolled leaves are spread out once more to absorb oxygen (oxidize), causing the leaves to turn from green to coppery red. Finally, the oxidized leaves are fired in order to arrest fermentation, turning the leaf black and giving it the recognizable tea scent.
Black tea helps prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream, which helps to prevent heart disease. It is also good to prevent gingivitis, tooth decay, and it helps regulate blood sugar level and blood pressure. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual black teas.
does not contain any leaves from the Camellia family, so it is sometimes referred to as a tisane. Often, herbals are blends of many different plants, fruits, and flavorings. They are particularly nice choices for children, for evening consumption, and for anyone who wants to completely avoid caffeine.
Herbal or tisane teas can be broken into three categories: Rooibos teas, Mate teas, and Herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, and fruits. The health benefits of herbal tea varies from tea to tea, but they are all caffeine-free and typically rich in vitamin C. Herbal teas are delicious hot or iced. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual herbal teas.
Rooibos (or Red) tea
is made from the needle-like leaves of a caffeine-free bush native to South Africa. It is oxidized like black tea, and many people are using it instead of decaffeinated black teas. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein and has higher antioxidants than Green tea. Naturally caffeine free, Rooibos teas are excellent in aiding with digestion, help relieve allergies, and promote healthy skin, teeth and bones. Rooibos teas are delicious hot or iced, has a mild flavor and won't turn bitter with extended brewing.
is a herbal plant grown in Argentina, that makes a delicious hearty herbal tea. Made from the leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant, mate teas give the same energy as coffee without the jitters. It is considered the coffee lover's favorite tea. Mate also curb the appetite and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
is any tea that has undergone a process which eliminates most of the caffeine content. Two processes are currently used to commercially decaffeinate tea, an ethyl acetate and a CO2 method. While the ethyl acetate method is cheaper and easier, the CO2 method has been proven much safer. Decaf tea is the perfect alternative for tea lovers who are trying to lower their caffeine intake. We use what we term "Canadian Chemical Free CO2 Process". The tea tastes better and does not have residual chemicals.
also called Artisan teas, these teas actually 'bloom' as they steep. They are hand tied by tea artists and often include some type of flavor or scent along with the beautiful design. These romantic teas make a great gift for your significant other!
Tea blends often have the best of both worlds since they combine more than one type of tea. You can examine each blend to understand the tastes and health benefits associated with the teas included. This is one of the best ways to get great flavor along with great health benefits.
Hardly a week goes by without news of yet another research study confirming the health benefits of tea. Since ancient times, the Chinese and others in the East have valued tea’s medicinal properties and praised its many health benefits. In China and Japan, tea drinking is a daily ritual – people dedicate themselves to preserving their health and well being by consuming tea throughout the day.
General Health Benefits of Tea
Antioxidant Properties of Tea: Tea contains an abundant source of natural plant-derived antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Included within the broad antioxidant polyphenol class are flavonoids and catechins. At 15% of the weight by dry leaf, tea boasts one of the highest total flavonoid contents of all plants. For many years, tea flavonoids have been thought to provide protective antioxidant action against harmful free radicals that can damage DNA, cell membranes and other cell components.
Tea’s Role in Preventing Cancer and Heart Disease
It’s believed that free radicals can cause heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes. Recent research has shown the following:
- Drinking tea with its high antioxidant levels may help protect the body from cancer by combating dangerous free radical activity and inhibiting uncontrolled cell growth
- Anti-oxidants may have curative properties that inhibit the development of heart disease and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack
- Tea flavonoids may increase coronary flow and promote healthy blood vessel functionality.
- Consuming tea lowers cholesterol levels.
Tea’s Role in Naturally Combating Anxiety and Stress
L-theanine, a unique amino acid, accounts for over 50% of the free amino acids in tea leaves and less than 2% of the total weight of dry leaf in both black and green teas. Studies show that L-theanine may promote relaxation and calm by influencing particular chemicals in the brain. Easily absorbed by the brain, it influences chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which affect mood. Studies show that the amino acid, without causing drowsiness, enhances overall concentration and focus. The effect of L-theanine in combination with caffeine may contribute to the feeling of increased energy and overall calm that many tea drinkers experience.
Tea and the Immune System
Research performed at Harvard University and the Bringham and Women’s Hospital indicates that drinking tea helps strengthen the immune system. Tea contains an amino acid substance, L-theanine that aides the immune system in combating & naturally resisting infection, bacteria & viruses.
Tea and Weight Management
Some preliminary research shows that drinking Green tea may help decrease body weight and speed up insulin activity.
Tea’s Role in Oral Health
Tea may have oral health benefits. Tea flavonoids may help reduce plaque, which lowers the chance of cavity and gum disease, and the fluoride (extracted from the soil) in tea may aid in protecting against tooth decay by supporting healthy tooth enamel.
Tea and Bone Health
Research indicates that tea flavonoids may strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Tea and Hydration
Drinking tea positively contributes towards your daily fluid intake. Studies show that tea fails to have a diuretic effect due to caffeine unless the amount of tea drunk during one sitting contains more than 250-300mg of caffeine, equivalent to between 5 and 6 cups of tea.
The Nutritional Value of Tea
In addition to valuable antioxidant properties and enhancing overall fluid intake, tea contains many vitamins, minerals and amino acids that include the following:
- Vitamins: C, K, B12, B6 and E
- Minerals: Trace amounts of potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium; Tea provides 70% of our daily fluoride intake
- Amino Acids: Tea is provides a strong source of amino acids including L-theanine. See above for further details.
Comparing Black, Oolong, Green and White Tea Health Benefits
Black, oolong, green and white tea all originate from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis. However, the final product differs in style, taste and caffeine content due to differences in processing.
- With black teas, freshly picked leaves are withered, rolled into shape and then left for at least a day to oxidize or ferment until they turn black. At the desired level of fermentation, the leaves are fired or hot air dried and then graded for quality and size.
- Green teas are not fermented or fully oxidized like black teas, but instead steamed or pan fired. Freshly plucked leaves are steamed then rolled. A gental heating or firing afterwards allow the leaves to dry, preserving their fresh "green" characteristics
- Oolong teas are semi-fermented, somewhere between black and green teas.
- White teas are made from tender buds that are simply picked then steamed or air-dried.
All these teas contain an abundant source of natural plant-derived antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Included within the broad antioxidant polyphenol class are flavonoids. These compounds are found in tea leaves and may provide protective antioxidant action against harmful free radicals. Research shows that these free radicals cause heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes.
While green and black teas contain similar amounts of flavonoids, their chemical makeup differs. Green tea boasts more catechins, a type of simple flavonoids, and black tea, due to the oxidation process, have more complex flavonoids called theaflavins and thearubigins. Oolong tea contains a flavonoid profile between that of black and green tea. Despite the effect of the oxidation process on the kinds of flavonoids in black, oolong and green teas, overall antioxidant activity and levels remain similar.
Time and Temperature
Green and white tea must be brewed at lower temperatures of 122° to 194 ° F, depending on the tea. The general guideline is: the finer the tea, the lower the water temperature. If the water temperature is too high, green tea will quickly start tasting bitter. Most green and white teas taste best after 1 to 2 minutes - tightly-rolled leaves take a little longer - and can usually be infused multiple times.
Suggested ratio is one teaspoon of leaves per cup of water. However, the light and voluminous teas will taste best with twice that. To steep, use boiling water (212F) when preparing black, dark oolong and herbal teas. And it's important to use cooler (180F) water when steeping green, light oolong and white teas. And remember to not over-steep, or your tea will taste bitter. Rule of thumb is 5 min. for most black, 7 min. for dark oolong and white, and only 3 min. for light oolong and green teas. Some green, oolong and white teas are good for multiple infusions - just add new hot water to the pot and increase the steeping time slightly. Repeat until the flavor starts to fade.
These are generalized and we recommend you look at each individual tea, which may be slightly different. Also, if you are unsure, be careful not to steep the tea for too long or it may become bitter.
Although we recommend the proportions and infusion times above, you can experiment depending upon your own flavor and strength preference. With practice, you will discover the right steeping time for each tea and what works best for you.
All Praise Tea teas will come with instructions for that specific tea. The most important detail to watch is steep time, if you steep tea for too long it will taste bitter. Consider the recommended steep times as a maximum amount of time you should steep the tea. For stronger tea, increase the amount of tea, but not the steep time.
Making a perfect pot. Where to begin:
Preheated Pot For black and oolong tea a warm teapot will maintain the requisite temperature for superior tasting tea. While the water is heating pour hot water into your teapot and cups, let sit and then drain completely. Do not preheat the pot for white tea.
As always, experiment! Find the right amount for you in terms of quantity of leaves, temperature of water, and time of steep. Happing Steeping!
Have you ever experienced that frustrating feeling, when walking into a wine store or receiving a wine catalog, of being overwhelmed by the selection of wines and prices? The same situation can easily happen with teas.
The variety of fine teas is huge. There are over 2,000 different types of teas available, making it one of the most difficult tasks for tea merchants to select an assortment and present it to the customer in a understandable way.
The best recommendation we can give to newcomers to fine tea is to try different kinds of teas and to experiment with their preparation. An excellent way to do that is with tea samplers. Such samplers should come with advice on how to prepare the tea as well as enough tea to brew a few pots. Once you have brewed the second or third pot of your favorite tea from the sampler, you will be on your way to becoming "hooked" on the pleasures fine teas provide.
Storing of Fine Tea
After the purchase of a valued tea, the first thing to take into consideration is proper storage. Tea is vulnerable to four spoilers: air, light, heat and moisture. It will lose its flavor and aroma quickly if stored improperly. Even some merchants make the mistake of using unsuitable storage by keeping tea in clear glass containers for reasons of aesthetics, but light alone can steal the freshness. Also, don’t count on some of the fancy, single-top covered tins which might look great but do not seal tightly enough to be effective. Tea kept in such tins will run the risk of getting stale and losing its aroma, or absorbing odors from spices, cooking - even other teas.
Unless you plan on using up your tea quickly after purchasing, we recommend investing in a good, fully-protective container. The best ones we have found are sturdy ceramic canisters with rubber-trimmed latches. They close airtight, are odorless, functional and if made well, will last a long time. The next best solution is double-lid or pry-top tins.
Stored properly, your carefully selected collection of fine black teas and oolongs will keep their character for well over a year. Green teas lose their qualities faster and should be served within 6 to 12 months after they are produced (with the exception of tightly rolled green teas such as Gunpowder).
Enjoy a better tasting, healthier glass of iced tea when you start with whole, loose-leaf tea leaves. Making iced tea is very similar to making hot tea, however there are a few differences. First, you should double the amount of tea used in your brew (as compared to hot tea) and, if you prefer sweet iced tea, use our Rock sugar while steeping (rather than adding white sugar to the finished tea) for the best taste. Second, immediately after the tea is brewed, pour it into a glass filled (almost to the top) with ice. The sudden cooling keeps the flavor and scent of the tea intact, so don't let it sit there. Finish it off with a lemon or sprig of mint for the perfect glass of cool, refreshing iced tea.
We encourage you to try any of our teas as an iced tea - all you have to do is follow our easy Iced Tea Preparation Directions below. We have also compiled our Iced Tea Recommendations if you are looking for the perfect tea to make a great-tasting brew.
Too many choices? Try our great Iced Tea Sample Collection.
Iced Tea Preparation Instructions
Brew a tea concentrate by following the regular brewing instructions printed on the tea pouch, but using twice the amount of leaves. If sweetener is desired, we recommend using crystal sugar.
- Fill glasses or pitcher approximately 2/3 with ice (preferably made using filtered water). Use plastic or tempered glass only.
- Immediately pour the hot tea over the ice, separating the leaves with a strainer. If necessary, add more ice until the concentrate is diluted to nearly double its initial volume.
- If desired, add a slice of lemon, lime or orange or decorate with a sprig of mint leaf.
- Example Measurements: To prepare 36 ounces of iced tea, brew 18 ounces of tea using approximately 6 teaspoons of tea leaves.
- Shock Freezing: By pouring the hot tea over ice, the principles of shock freezing are applied. The sudden cooling preserves the full aroma as well as the active ingredients of the tea. This method also prevents the usual cloudiness that often develops in black teas as they cool off. The cloudiness, however, is purely optical and has no negative impact on the flavor of the tea.
The history of tea is fascinating and offers great insight into the history of our world. Since tea was first discovered in China, it has traveled the world conquering the thirsts of virtually every country on the planet. Tea is the most popular beverage in the world as well as one of the healthiest. If you have ever wondered where tea comes from and how we got to the point where tea is served in virtually every corner of the world, steep a hot cup of tea and explore the history of the simple tea leaf over the centuries!
One legend claims that the discovery of tea occurred in 2737 BC by the Emperor of China. For several hundred years, people drank tea because of its herbal medicinal qualities. By the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty, tea was used as a religious offering. During the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), tea plants were quite limited and only royalty and the rich drank tea not only for their health but also for the taste. As more tea plants were discovered during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), tea drinking became more common among lower classes and the Chinese government supported planting of tea plants and even the building of tea shops so everyone could enjoy tea.
Also during the Tang Dynasty, tea spread to Japan by Japanese priests studying in China. Similar to the Chinese adoption of tea, tea was first consumed by priests and the rich for its medicinal properties. Tea is often associated with Zen Buddhism in Japan because priests drank tea to stay awake and meditate. Soon, the Buddhists developed the Japanese Tea Ceremony for sharing tea in a sacred, spiritual manner. The Emperor of Japan enjoyed tea very much and imported tea seeds from China to be planted in Japan, making tea available to more people.
Tea finally arrived in England during the 17th century when King Charles II married a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza. The Queen made tea the drink of royalty and soon tea became a popular import to Britain via the East India Company. Afternoon tea or tea parties became a common way for aristocratic society to drink tea. Though tea was regularly imported to Britain, the taxes were so high that smugglers would get and sell tea illegally for those that could not afford it. In attempts to turn profits during the tea smuggling period, the East India Company began exporting the tea to America. The American tea was also taxed heavily and contributed to the cause of the Boston Tea Party.
Want to know more about the history of tea? Read about the discovery of tea in China and the detailed accounts of how tea came to England and tea’s arrival to America. Understand modern day tea drinking and the tea products and teas used today.