Tea Basics

It’s tea time! While strictly speaking, the word “tea” refers to caffeinated beverages prepared from varieties of the plant Camellia sinensis, a flowering shrub native to Asia, for many, “tea” also denotes other beverages made by steeping herbs, spices, and dried fruits in hot or cold water. These are more correctly known as “tisanes”– herbal infusions that are prepared for everyday use. Some examples of caffeine-free tisanes include: antioxidant-rich Rooibos (Red Bush Tea), sweet-tasting Honeybush from South Africa; and Tulsi (Holy Basil), the stress-relieving “ herb of enlightenment” of India. Yerba Mate, “drink of the Gods” is a South American plant which contains three stimulants: caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. All true teas including white, green, oolong and black varieties contain health-promoting antioxidants, such as epicatechin gallate. Tea naturally contains caffeine as well as the relaxing amino acid L-theanine.

White teas are raw, unprocessed, delicately flavored tea leaves and buds. White varieties of tea include White Peony and Silver Needle. Green teas are minimally fermented tea leaves. Japanese green tea varieties include classic Sencha and roasted Hojicha and Genmaicha, a green tea roasted with brown rice. Kukicha, a low-caffeine variety made from tea twigs and stems is popular with followers of macrobiotics. Matcha is the finely ground powdered green tea featured in the traditional tea ceremony of Japan. Jasmine Green is green tea that has been scented with fresh Jasmine blossoms. The more luxurious Jasmine Pearls are made by hand-rolling green tea leaves around individual jasmine flowers. The exquisite Flowering Teas are made by hand rolling green or white tea leaves and various fragrant, colorful flowers together to create a gorgeous single tea “bud” that “blossoms” when it is immersed in hot water. Oolong is a half-fermented variety of tea with known benefits for weight reduction. Black teas are fully fermented teas that are sourced from China, India and Africa. Pu-Erh, a doubly fermented black tea from 500-year old wild tea trees in Yunnan China, is thought to be higher in antioxidants than other black teas. It has a distinctive smoky flavor enjoyed by many. Darjeeling is a fragrant, fruity variety of black tea that comes from the Himalayan foothills or Darjeeling region of India. Other notable black teas include Assam, an Indian tea from Camellia sinensis var. assamica; Earl Grey, an English tea that is flavored with oil of bergamot orange; and Irish Breakfast, a hearty, brisk-tasting breakfast tea.

Whether you prefer a delicate white tea, a caffeine-free tisane or a rich chocolatey Pu-Erh, at New Morning you will find a wide selection of the finest organic teas to choose from. This winter, take time for yourself and the ones you love with the relaxing comfort of a hot cup of tea.

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