So Many Kinds of Tea…

All teas come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis.  This shrub is native to east, south, and southeast Asia, but is cultivated all over the world.  The most common categories of teas are differentiated by the way they are dried.  The manufacture of green tea is simple, being just picked and heat-dried.  However, black tea and oolong tea are oxidized before being dried.  Black tea is oxidized slightly longer than oolong, creating two distinct flavors and aromas.  White tea is made by plucking only the buds and youngest leaves and drying them.  This light touch preserves the integrity of the leaf, and serves up healthful antioxidants. 

Teas also have subcategories, with even more varieties of unflavored teas. Pan-fired green teas for example are made by heating the leaves in an iron pan over a flame. This action reduces the “grassy” flavor of the leaves and creates a distinctly unique aroma and taste.  Some teas get their flavor from the area they are grown. Assam (India) teas have a different flavor and aroma than Ceylon (Sri Lanka) teas because of the difference in soil, humidity and altitude.

Some teas may even be grown and processed in the same place in the same way but have different tastes due to the time of year they were picked. Darjeeling (India) First Flush (the first harvest of each growing season) and Darjeeling Second Flush have very distinct qualities. First Flush is considered more complex, delicate and more highly prized. Second and Third Flush (Autumn) have more “body.”

With so many slight differences in the tea growing and drying process it is easy to see why so many types of teas exist.

Adaptogenesis Tea

CGT:   We call this newest proprietary line ADAPTOGENESIS TEAS.

Q:  Can you define ADAPTOGEN?

CGT:  It’s a natural substance (herbs in this case) which help us adapt to stress and normalize internal issues.

Q:  And why does Cottage Garden Teas call them ADAPTOGENESIS teas?  What does the name mean?

CGT:  It means, the beginning of your body’s path to better health and wellness.  We use specific herbs to help our bodies adapt to specific problems.

For example this is our Liver Cleanse Tea, available in a 3 oz. bag, which has all the “adaptogen” herbs for your fatty-liver syndrome.  This tea un-clogs our livers from all the toxins and visceral fats that prevent our livers from doing their work.  Hormones like insulin are not able to work their magic on our typical diet because of the fatty liver.  This tea is blended in small batches, as are all Cottage Garden Teas, so that each bag gets the proper amount of each ingredient so as to do its job.  Cottage Garden Teas prides itself on actually making these herbal teas TASTE GOOD, as we think no tea will help you with your health if you won’t drink it! 

 

Why Choose Loose Leaf Over Teabags?

If you have ever been to a specialty tea shop, they probably told you that loose leaf tea is better than tea bags. The reason behind this is in the tea manufacturing process. After the tea leaves are dry, they are packaged into either bulk loose-leaf tea containers, or into standard tea bags. If you look at the tea leaves in a typical teabag, you’ll notice they are quite small, and it’s often impossible to see any indication of an actual leaf. Higher end sachets and loose-leaf teas show full shapes of leaves and stems. During the final process, the top-quality tea leaves from the top of the batch are packaged in bulk while the remaining crumbs and pieces that fall to the bottom (we call it “dust”) are then packaged and sold as teabags.

What’s the big deal if I’m drinking tea crumbs vs the full leaf? Isn’t it the same thing?
The dust that you may find in tea bags has a higher chance of becoming stale, and the breaking of the tea leaves causes many of the natural oils and medicinal properties to evaporate. This causes this tea to taste quite different than loose leaf tea. Full leaf tea holds more of the natural flavors and nutrients inside the leaf, creating a more bold and complete flavor with much stronger medicinal properties. Not only that, but loose-leaf teas can be much more economical than tea bags. Since the flavor and medicinal properties are stronger, you don’t need to use as much to steep a cup of tea – and you can rebrew the leaves more than once.

Caffeine and Tea

How Much Caffeine does Tea Have?

Does tea have less caffeine than coffee?

One of the most often asked questions we receive is…”How much caffeine does this tea have?” It’s a complicated question, with a complicated answer! The industry has long been guilty of making contradictory statements about caffeine in tea. But now we can put some scientific evidence to it, and make some statements that are closer to reality.

Although tea is known to have less caffeine than coffee, there are many factors that enter into the equation. For instance, it used to be thought that the variety of tea – Black Tea, Green Tea, Oolong, White – determined the amount of caffeine. Most published articles stated that black tea carried the most, while white carried the least. Oolong and green tea were in the middle.

Tea Science to the Rescue

A new scientific study has been headed up by Bruce Richardson, who, after owning his own retail tea business for 14 years, has become a leading author and authority on tea – a true tea maestro. Mr. Richardson partnered with Dr. Bruce Branan, Professor of Chemistry at Asbury College, Kentucky for a scientific study of caffeine in tea.

Seven well-known teas were tested, with careful attention to standardized procedures and using new state-of-the-art equipment. The Asbury study concluded that most teas contain approximately 55 milligrams of caffeine per 7-oz cup, regardless of tea type. Coffee, by the way, carries 130-200 milligrams of caffeine per cup. While these results would be expected from an Assam (commonly consumed because of its known high levels of caffeine), it was a surprise to find that the white and green teas also tested at this level.

Does Processing of Tea have an Effect on Caffeine Levels?

Richardson then consulted his contacts in the tea industry to find out how processing the tea can affect caffeine. He discovered that caffeine is most prevalent in the newest leaves of the tea bush. Although teas made from the youngest leaves are known to be higher in antioxidants and nutrients than teas made with older leaves, they are also higher in caffeine.

That means teas made with just the bud (like Silver Needles White Tea ) are the highest in caffeine, and teas made with two leaves and the bud (most green and black teas) have considerably less. Regardless of the variety of tea you consume, your intake of caffeine will likely be the same, assuming identical temps and steeping times.

How does Tea Grades Affect Caffeine Levels?

Generally speaking, broken tea leaves will infuse more caffeine into your brew than whole (loose) leaves. Grocery-store teabags often hold very broken grades of tea, tending to impart higher caffeine levels.

What Should I Do if I Can’t Tolerate Caffeine?

What does all this mean to the tea drinker? Water temperature and steeping times matter more to caffeine levels than the type of tea you drink. So if you want to reduce your intake of caffeine, use a lower water temperature and steep for shorter times. You will also get more infusions from your tea, as there will be flavor and caffeine left for your next brew. Or switch to a 50% blend of tea and fruit/herbal ingredients to lower the caffeine level by half.

What Teas are Naturally Low in Caffeine?

Rooibos and Fruit Tisanes are naturally caffeine-free, since they do not include any actual tea. Cottage Garden Teas carries many Caffeine Free and Decaf Teas for those who wish to remove all caffeine from their diets, as well as many fusions of tea with herbs for reduced caffeine levels.

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For more information on Bruce Richardson’s study, read his article at

De-bunking the At-Home Decaffeination Myth