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Tea 101





That is the question that perplexes many consumers new to tea. Did you know that the “tea” that you are drinking may not be tea at all? In many parts of the world, the beverage derived from any plant that is steeped in water is called “tea”. In actuality, the only beverage that can properly be referred to as tea is the steeped leaf of the tea plant known as “Camellia Sinensis”. Any other botanical leaf, root, flower, fruit or spice steeped in water should be referred to as a “Tisane”.


All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are 6 different types of tea that all come from the processed leaves of this plant. The different types of tea are White, Green, Oolong, Black, Yellow and Dark. The step-in processing that most determines what type of tea the leaf will become is oxidation. Oxidation occurs when the cell wall of the leaf is broken. Other processes in the production of the different teas include rolling, heating, steaming, crushing and drying. Each tea type has its own unique flavor profile. Tea is grown commercially in 60 countries worldwide. The unique terroir (environment) in which each plant is grown, also contributes to the flavor of the tea. For example, a black tea grown in India will have a much different flavor profile than a black tea grown in China. Therefore, we encourage you to explore the plethora of tea experiences the world has to offer.


There are many myths surrounding caffeine in tea. Many well-meaning tea purveyors will indicate that a tea has low, medium or high caffeine levels according to the type of tea. One misconception is that there is more caffeine in a fully oxidized black tea than there is in a white tea. This is not true. Many white teas are made by plucking the leaves at the very top of the camellia sinensis plant. These leaves have the highest concentration of caffeine in the plant. Therefore, some white teas may have more caffeine than black. There are many other factors that affect the amount of caffeine in the tea leaf including: the age of the tea plant, was the plant grown from seed or a clonal cutting, the time of year that the leaf was plucked, how long were the plucked leaves allowed to wither and the water temperature used in steeping the leaf. Therefore, one cannot say that one type of tea has more caffeine than another. The only comment that can be truthfully made about tea is that all tea types contain caffeine. Studies have shown that tea has about half the amount of caffeine as coffee. The effects of caffeine to the tea drinker may be different than other caffeinated beverages, however. Tea contains an amino acid L-theanine that has a relaxing effect, resulting in a calm alertness rather than jittery nervousness sometimes experienced with other caffeinated beverages.


Iced tea accounts for 80% of the tea consumed in the United States. Therefore, we would be remiss if we didn’t address this topic. Many iced tea lovers in the United States will make “sun tea”, by pouring water over tea leaves or tea bags and leaving the container in the direct sun for several hours. Most local health departments frown upon this practice however, because the amount of time and the temperature of the water sitting in the hot sun is optimal for bacteria growth. To play it safe, here are two simple ways to make delicious, iced tea. HOT BREW METHOD: To make 1 gallon, measure about 1/3 cup (25g) of tea. Remember to add a little more if your tea leaves are large, or a little less if your tea leaves are fine cut. Place the leaves in a large infuser, and place in a 1-gallon heatproof vessel. Refer to the steeping instructions for each tea type to prepare water and for steeping time. Pour 8 cups of boiled water over leaves. Remove the infuser after time has passed. Add cold water, ice or both to the pitcher to make 1 gallon of tea. COLD BREW METHOD: To make 1 gallon, measure about 5 tbsp. of tea in a 1-gallon pitcher. Remember to add more if your tea leaves are large, or a little less if your tea leaves are fine cut. Pour 1 gallon of cold water in the pitcher and refrigerate as follows: Green tea – 2-4 hours, Oolong tea – 6 hours, Black and white tea – 8 hours, Tisanes – 12 hours. Strain tea leaves after time has passed. Because the tea is allowed to steep for an extended amount of time at a lower temperature, less tannins are extracted using this method. The resulting tea is smooth, light and not bitter.


Hundreds of thousands of claims about tea and health can be found on the internet. Some claims may not be accurate, while others are supported by scientific research. Although there is science-based evidence to support the health benefits of tea, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates what health claims a tea purveyor can say about their products. The FDA categorizes tea as a food product. Therefore, tea purveyors cannot mislead the consumer with statements about tea that indicate medicinal qualities that can be used for curing specific diseases. We recommend referring to the following reputable sources for promising research-based findings in the areas of tea and cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, weight management, autoimmune disorders, dental health and more.

• The International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health
• The World Tea Academy
• World Tea News
• The Specialty Tea Institute
• Linus Pauling Institute
• Mayo Clinic

The descriptions of the teas in the Palmer Place assortment are for informational and educational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Palmer Place Fine Teas is not offering or rendering medical opinions or otherwise engaged in the practice of medicine.  


For a tea to be Certified Organic by the USFDA, growers cannot use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other chemical additives. Organic Certification is labor intensive, and growers are subject to stringent and costly inspections. For these reasons, many small tea plantations may practice organic methods of farming, but forego the expense of becoming "Certified Organic". Therefore, many of the teas that are imported into the U.S. have been grown on plantations that utilize organic farming, but by law cannot label their products "Certified Organic". Any tea and botanicals imported or grown commercially in the U.S. are food products and are therefore regulated by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the USFDA. Palmer Place Fine Teas sources organically grown teas and botanicals when possible. Those teas will be labeled "organically sourced". All Palmer Place Fine Teas are carefully selected from only reputable USFDA regulated tea and botanical suppliers.

TEA 101


To create white tea, the tea leaf is plucked, withered and dried. This type of tea goes through the least number of steps than any other tea type. Because of the minimal processing, the antioxidant levels are said to be higher than other types of tea. Therefore, the leaf is not oxidized and left in its pristine state, resulting in a cup that has a natural sweetness, a smooth mouth feel, and a champagne colored liquor. To steep white tea, bring fresh cold water to a boil and reduce heat to 180°-190°. Place 1-2 tsp. of leaves per cup in a tea press, tea pot or infuser and pour water over leaves. Steep for 3 minutes and pour tea into cups. Once the tea has been consumed, pour water over the same leaves and steep another 3 minutes. This can be repeated until the flavor is depleted. Milk and sugar will mask the delicate characters of this tea and are not recommended.


Green teas are primarily produced in China, Japan and Taiwan. To stop the oxidation process, Chinese teas are pan fired, while Japanese are steamed. After the firing stage, the leaves are shaped. Depending on the region, the leaves can be twisted, flattened or balled. Green tea flavor profiles range from grassy, vegetal and herbaceous to floral and nutty. To steep green tea, place 1-2 tsp. per cup in an infuser, tea pot or tea press. Bring cold fresh water to a boil and reduce the temperature to 170-180°. The recommended brewing time for green tea is 2-3 minutes.


Oolong tea is the “champagne” of the tea family. Crafting quality oolong tea is an art form. Because there are more steps to processing an oolong than any other tea type, the flavor profile is said to be complex, with many layers of flavor emerging as the tea is enjoyed. The flavor profiles for oolongs include floral, sweet, toasty, creamy and smokey. Oolongs are grown primarily in China and Taiwan. The tea leaf is semi oxidized, which gives the tea a little more body than a green tea, but less body than a black tea. The leaves are plucked, withered in the direct sun, then shaken in bamboo baskets to bruise and slightly oxidize the leaf. The tea is then shaped and fired, locking in the special flavor. To steep oolong tea, bring cold fresh water to a boil and reduce temperature to 185°-195°. Place 1-2 tsp. per cup in an infuser, tea pot or tea press. Oolongs teas are best enjoyed when the leaves are briefly infused with hot water which is then poured off. This “awakens” the leaves and allows the full flavor of the oolong to emerge. Reinfuse and steep for 1-2 minutes. After the first cup is enjoyed, the leaves may be reinfused several times, with each resulting infusion yielding a different flavor experience from the proceeding cup.


Black tea is the most commonly consumed tea in the Western Hemisphere. It is grown and processed all over the world. To create a black tea, the tea leaves are plucked, withered, rolled and spread out to dry. The leaves begin to oxidize and become a dark brown. A final heating stops the oxidation. Black teas are bold in flavor and are often consumed with milk and sugar. Flavor profiles range from floral to malty to wine-like. To steep black tea, place 1-2 tsp. per cup in an infuser, tea press or tea pot. Bring cold fresh water to a boil and pour over leaves. Steep 3-5 minutes.


(caffeine free tisane)

Rooibos is derived from a pine tree like bush found in the Cederberg district of South Africa. The word in Afrikaans mean “red bush” and is grown commercially nowhere else on earth. Rooibos contains nutrients including iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese and sodium. Rooibos has a naturally sweet caramel-like flavor profile making it an ideal base for dessert blends. To brew rooibos, bring cold fresh water to a boil. Place 1-2 tsp. for each cup into an infuser, tea pot or tea press. Pour the boiling water over the leaves and steep 5-7 minutes.


(caffeine free)

Tisanes do not contain the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant, therefore they cannot be called “tea”. Naturally caffeine free, tisanes include herbs, fruits, flowers, roots, spices and leaves. Although the use of botanicals for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times, it is not surprising that many of them are still consumed today for their health promoting or illness fighting properties. While many botanicals have long standing reputations for various health benefits, the tisanes offered in this web site are considered to be for beverage purposes and enjoyment solely. None should be used or considered for medicinal or curative properties. To brew a tisane, bring cold fresh water to a boil. Place 1-2 tsp. for each cup into an infuser, tea pot or tea press. Pour the boiling water over the leaves and steep 5-7 minutes.

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Our Mission: To share our passion and knowledge of tea with our customers so that they can fully appreciate the diverse flavor profiles the world of tea has to offer. We strive to enrich the existing tea aficionado's palate & create new tea lovers along the way.

Turning our Friends into Tea Lovers, One Sip at a Time

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Customer satisfaction is our priority at Palmer Place Fine Teas. Please contact us at info@palmerplacetea.com if there is a tea that you are interested in that is not on our website. We carry many limited edition teas that are not listed on our site. In addition, because many of our seasonal blends are best sellers, they may be available year round.

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