Types of tea and how to brew loose leaf

There are four main types of teas from the tea plant camellia sinensis. The picking and processing methods determine the type of tea finally produced.

 

  1. BLACK TEA

Black tea is the most common type worldwide. It is made by fermenting the harvested leaves for a couple of hours before heating or drying. The oxidation darkens the leaves and increases the amount of caffeine. Black tea has the strongest colour and flavour.

  1. WHITE TEA

White tea is the rarest and most exclusive type. It consists of the whitish buds of the plant which are steamed, then left to dry naturally. This type of tea is low in caffeine and has a slightly sweet flavour. You can steep white tea up to 3 times before discarding the loose leaves.

  1. GREEN TEA

Green tea makes up approximately ten percent of the world’s consumption. The leaves are picked, rolled and dried before they can go brown. Different variations/blends infused with e.g. Jasmine like the popular Jasmine Green Tea, have distinctive aromas. Green tea can be brewed up to 3-5 times without jeopardising the taste.

  1. OOLONG TEA

Oolong Tea is semi fermented, which means leaves are processed immediately after picking. They only have a short period of oxidation which turns the leaves from green to red/brown. Its leaves have a floral, fruity quality and hence have a delicate fruity taste. It is recommended not to drink Oolong with milk, sugar or lemon, but enjoy it pure, just like any other type of tea. Depending on the quality of the product and the taste intensity, you can usually steep this type up to 6 times before discarding the loose leaves.

  1. HERBAL INFUSIONS

Herbal infusions are not produced from the tea plant, but from flowers, leaves, roots or seeds. Common ingredients in herbal beverages are chamomile, peppermint, fennel, rose hip, and lemon verbena. Herbal infusions will generally not become bitter with extended brews.

  1. HERBAL LOOSE LEAF BLENDS

Organic Merchant makes herbal infusions and blends by combining different types of teas (herbal and non-herbal). Common black tea blends include English Breakfast and Earl Grey. We also came up with the down-under variety of Australian Breakfast Tea. Herbal blends can often be brewed up to 3 times without the taste changing. It is best to refer to the individual product pages though to find out our recommendations. Browse our entire certified organic tea range.

 

Typically western brewing method for making a cuppa: How to make loose leaf tea?

The most common way of making a cup of loose leaf tea is by adding 1 to 2 heaped teaspoons per cup into either a teapot with a filter or a single cup infuser. Follow the instructions below for steeping the different types of tea. We have suitable glass tea pots and infusers available from our online shop.

 

Type Black Tea White Tea Green Tea Oolong Tea Herbal
Temperature 100°C 80°C – 90°C 80°C – 85°C 85°C – 90°C 100°C
Brewing Time 3-5 min 1-3 min 2-3 min 2-3 min 4+ min

 

For herbal tea and infusions 4 minutes steeping time is the absolute minimum. As they typically do not turn bitter you can let them sit for a long time until the desired level of aroma is reached. We occasionally infuse our herbal blends for up to 15 minutes.

When it comes to what time and temperature of how to make loose leaf tea is the best for you, it all depends on personal preferences. We recommend experimenting with different settings to find your sweet spot.

You can also cold brew most blends: How to make iced tea?

Chinese Brewing Method:

  1. The amount you put in should cover the bottom of your tea pot with two layers of loose leaves. Fill the tea pot with hot water (see temperature suggestions above) and immediately poor into another pot. This is just done to rinse and expand the tea leaves.
  2. Fill the tea pot with hot water again and let it sit for around 50 seconds for the first infusion. The hot water used to rinse the tea leaves can be used to rinse the tea cups.
  3. After 50 seconds, pour the beverage into a serving pitch. It is now ready to drink.

You can steep the different types of tea multiple times. Just add an extra 10 seconds to every further round.

How to store loose leaf tea correctly?

Teas stored inside a vacuum sealed bag can be stored for up to two years, depending on the quality and grade of tea. Once opened, tea should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a dry and dark place.
Once opened, black teas will last longer than green and oolong teas but all tea needs to be stored in ideal conditions.
You can tell when tea is past its best if it has lost its aroma and creates a dull tasting cup.

Why do I have a dry feeling in my mouth when drinking tea?

Most tea is somewhat astringent due to polyphenols, which are antioxidants. High grade teas usually have a better, smoother mouth feel in general. But the true reason that you might get a dry feeling in your mouth is most likely that you prepared it wrong. Try lowering the brewing temperature and/or reduce the steeping time.

Click here to jump to how to make loose leaf tea.

Further tips for brewing tea:

  • Water quality affects taste. For best results, use filtered water.
  • Finer tea particles and leaves will infuse more quickly than whole leaves. As a result, finer tea particles often release too much tannin too quickly, creating a harsher taste. Adjust the brewing time and or temperature until desired strength is achieved.
  • Make sure you drink a certified organic option. There are too many brands out there slapping ‘organic’ on their products, although they are everything but. The ACO certified organic logo protects the consumer and shows you what the real deal is.