How to purchase quality tea
Tea is consumed all over the world and are of importance to many different cultures. Drinking tea is said to bring well-being, that is, if practiced regularly. Tea helps flush out toxins from the body making it a healthy regimen.
Different varieties of tea can make us happy, sleepy, awake, calm, or help us to digest. Buying tea is easy but there are some things you should look out for when selecting the most purest and quality promising teas.
Teas in Single Serve Bags
Teas in bags have automatically less quality, the air oxidizes its values. The more the leaves or flowers are chopped up the more air can get to the herbs and dry them out. The flavor of the teas are the essential oils in the plant. Once the essential oils evaporate, the flavor will disappear. This is why some teas have flavors added to them.
Another case, individual tea sachets might be sealed in wrappers or bags to keep freshness but that won't help in most cases. After drinking tea in bags, that are; on the airplane, in restaurants, and in the store; I found that they taste much like hot water with a side of flavor.
Teas in Triangle Bags
Teas in triangle bags are a little better as I find most tea in these types of bags are not pulverized into dust. I've tried a variety of teas such as Green tea in the triangle bag at a local coffee shop and the taste as well as the aroma seems to be much stronger. Teas in triangle bags reflect the correct way to steep tea except for being in a bag. Tea should steep in its loose form into the water and strained thereafter its proper duration. But let us not forget the triangle container is PET plastic and I personally don't like the idea of plastic floating in boiling water for a few minutes.
Whole Leaf or Loose Leaf Tea
Whole Leaf or Loose Leaf Tea is the best, that is, in my opinion. It's the most flavorful tea there is. When I buy tea, I am not only looking for the tea to be; organically grown, or grown without pesticides and chemicals. I am looking for whole leaves as well. Whole leaves are extremely important when drinking tea for medicinal reasons.
How could you possibly have properties capable of addressing ailments when the tea leaves have been pulverized? This leaves me to question its power and effectiveness. The chemical constituents are in the leaves and flowers and are released when tea is steeped in hot or warm water. The more whole the leaf is, the more essential oils, constituents, and properties are therein.
One of the most important flavor carrier is the water itself. Using tap water contaminated with chlorine or other chemicals will definitely impact the pureness of the tea. Stale water equals stale tea, no matter how fresh the herbs you are using. Keep in mind, water is the key to almost any product out there. If you have pure and clean water from a spring you will taste and feel the difference.
What is quality? The term quality can vary from person to person as we all have different taste buds and definitions of what we think is the finest selection. I drink two-three varieties of tea everyday and have found the most well-being feeling and effectiveness are with whole leaves. This doesn't make me an expert at tea but I drink and have drank enough tea to tune my taste. It's the same for someone who really knows fine wine.
With quality tea, you should be able to make two batches of tea equaling greater or slightly less as the same strength as the first initial batch. This is my way to tell if the herbs and flowers in the tea are grown organically and harvested during its peak cycle.
Some teas are harvested by machine and some are harvested by hand. When buying tea, I have never come across tea that stated on the packaging its harvesting methods. It is safe to say that majority of tea is harvested by machine due to timely manners, productivity, or supply and demand. When the tea is harvested by machine, it often takes the stem with it leaving twigs and tough pieces in the mix. If the flowers and leaves are harvested by hand, you'll find more leaves than stems. Hand harvested is my favorite, the leaves are often left as whole as possible versus machine harvesting whereas the leaves are in pieces and sometimes close to dust. Broken tea leaves is not only caused by harvesting methods but can be a result in shipment or during the drying and packaging phase. There are herbs grown in India, China or Europe that do not grow in the United States and therefore needs to be imported.
As you may find through the selections of teas that we offer at Opas Soap, we are very careful as to where we buy our leaves and flowers. Some manufactures sell leaves and flowers but they have been sitting for such a long time and this also could be a factor of quality. There are many cases where countries will export their top quality to other countries while keeping second or third class quality for their own citizens. We do buy majority of our leaves and flowers from really small organic farms where only hand and moon harvesting are carried out. This cuts out the possibility of being GMO contaminated as well as not having organic origins and growing methods. Other flowers and leaves we buy from manufactures that have been around for a long time that must go through a series of testing because the herbs must meet a high standard in order to be sold in an apothecary and this is where the term medicinal grade comes in.
Tips for using Teas
- Always use hot water when making tea. If tea is grown organically, there are possibilities that you might encounter natural friends in your tea. This is normal, leaves and flowers are critters natural habitat. It's us that are taking away their food. We have to share and realize that we are not the only ones on this planet. Critters are in all teas whether pulverized in tea bags or whole and loose leaves.
- Always store tea in a cool place and out of the sun. To keep tea fresh, store it in a glass jar with a tight lid. Tea may also be stored in a dark place like in a pantry.
- To get the best flavor out of the tea, try adding honey, raw agave, or raw sugar. Sometimes, I like to add honey as a sweetener to my tea because of the vitamins and minerals it has.
- Always add hot water to the tea leaves or flowers and not the other way around. Also, take precaution when using hot or boiling water.
- The best way to brew tea is using a natural paper based filter that is made for tea brewing. We use bleach free Manila Hemp Tea Filters that are perfect for brewing larger pots. Metal devices like tea eggs will slightly change the taste of the tea. For the ultimate tea experience and to reduce metal accumulation in the body, use the correct equipment. Some tea lovers even consider the little metal staple (located at the top of the individual single serve tea bags) being a problem.
Steeping duration for tea
Black Tea 3-5 min
Green Tea 2-3 min
White Tea 4-6 min
Oolong Tea 3-5 min
Rooibos Tea 5-8 min
Pekoe Tea 3-5 min
Yerba Mate 3-4 min
Herb Tea 6-8 min
Fruit Tea 8-10 min
Flower Tea 2-4 min