Common Tea Questions
Posted on February 17 2016
What is tea?
Tea comes from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant, which was first cultivated in China, then later introduced to India, Japan, Sri Lanka and other countries. From the country or estate it is grown, how it is processed, the culture that prepares it, tea varies widely by flavor, aroma, appearance and brewing methods.
There are six main types of tea, all which come from the Camellia sinensis bush: black, oolong, green, white, yellow and pu-erh. See Tea Types for more information.
What are herbal teas?
While herbal tea (also known as herbal infusions or tisanes) are prepared like teas, they actually do not contain any tea leaves. Typically, herbal infusions are simply the combination of boiling water and anything from dried fruits, flowers, herbs, mint, spices, roots, berries and seeds. Stash Tea obtains our collection of herbs and spices from the finest suppliers around the world, from local Pacific Northwest mint to Moroccan rosebuds.
Do herbal teas contain caffeine?
Herbal teas such as peppermint or chamomile are made from plants and botanicals that are not related to the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal infusions are naturally caffeine-free, with a few exceptions. Yerba Mate and Guayusa are two herbal holly plants that are not true teas but do naturally contain caffeine. Learn more about caffeine.
How much caffeine does tea contain?
The amount of caffeine in tea can vary significantly. It is quite difficult to gauge how much caffeine is in tea because it depends on so many factors, from its growing environment to how it is brewed.
Unfortunately, because it varies so much, we are unable to estimate how much caffeine is in a serving. To date, the most scientifically reliable statements are:
- All tea contains caffeine.
- Tea contains less caffeine than coffee.
- Decaffeinated teas still retain a small amount of caffeine.
One of the most common questions we get is Coffee vs. Tea; Which is better for you? We realize that some of our customers have concerns about caffeine. If you know that you are sensitive to caffeine, we suggest that you contact your healthcare provider for advice.
Are there really any health benefits gained from drinking tea?
We sell our tea for enjoyment only. We do not make any health claims regarding health benefits.
If there is a question regarding tea and pregnancies, heart problems, etc., please discuss it with your primary healthcare professional. We are not able to give any advice regarding health issues.
What is the difference between drinking loose leaf tea and tea bags?
The difference between the tea leaves themselves is that tea bags must use very small pieces of leaves (often referred to as "dust and fannings") to fit in a bag. These pieces of leaves, unlike loose leaf, do not expand much, if at all. When leaves are allowed to expand (a process known as "the agony of the leaves"), they usually deliver a smoother flavor.
With some types of tea, there is no discernible flavor difference between tea bags or loose leaf. Bold black teas, for example. With other teas, like oolong, you will see a wide variety in loose leaf, but a very limited selection in bagged tea. This is because the subtle flavor from the large, whole leaves of oolong tea (as well as the experience of watching them unfold in hot water) is not easily reproduced in tea bags.
What does "all natural" mean?
All Stash Tea products are all natural, meaning the natural flavor(s) or natural flavoring used have been derived from plant sources. There are no artificial flavorings, colors, sweeteners or preservatives used in our products, and in most cases there has not been any alteration in vitamin or mineral nutrient content due to the natural flavoring process.
What does it mean for a tea to be "Organic"?
Stash Tea sources its teas, herbs, and spices from the finest sources around the world. In addition to our conventional teas, Stash Tea offers a variety of Organic and Fair Trade certified teas. Our conventional, Organic, and Fair Trade teas, are all natural and are made without any artificial ingredients.
Stash Organic teas are grown free of any synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides and are appropriately certified and labeled to reflect these practices.
The USDA defines Organic agriculture as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony."
We are certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI) and the USDA.
QAI is an internationally recognized professional organic certification service. QAI’s program is to certify every step of the organic chain—from the land on which the product is grown, to the growers, to the post-harvest facilities, and the final processing and handling facilities.
We are committed to producing our products in a manner that is sustainable for the planet and healthy for our consumers. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure the finest quality ingredients are utilized and that procurement is managed in an environmentally responsible and ethical manner.
What are Fair Trade teas?
Our Organic Fair trade teas are certified through QAI and Fair Trade USA. This means that these teas were procured from farmers and suppliers who are certified through Fair Trade USA. This is important for farmers and workers in developing countries, as Fair Trade status offers better prices, improved terms of trade, and the development of business skills necessary to produce high-quality products that can compete in the global marketplace. Moreover, our consumers get to voice their support of Fair Trade products each time they purchase our Organic Fair Trade teas.
What is tea grading?
Tea grades are a way that some teas are ranked or categorized. In addition to grading not being standardized worldwide, a tea's grade does not necessarily indicate flavor or quality. A grade can refer to many things, including the shape of the tea leaf, the size of the leaf, the time of year it was picked, and so on.
While black teas generally have a consistent grading system through India, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, Africa and some parts of China, the grading of green and oolong teas is a little more subtle and less structured than that of black teas. Unlike black teas, the grading of green tea has a definite relationship with the quality and flavor of the tea. Each country grades their green teas differently and has their own set of complicated terminology. For example, Japanese green teas are graded by districts, style and cup quality, while China greens are graded according to the age of the leaf and the finished style or shape of the leaf. And that’s not even getting into subgrades!