What is tea?

Tea is the dried leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is picked and then processed in various ways to produce the six different types of tea, which we know as: White, Green, Yellow, Oolong, Black and Puerh (also called Dark tea). The key difference between the types is the level of oxidation that is allowed to occur after the tea leaves have been picked and before they’re dried. Think of oxidation like an apple going brown after you take a bite…it’s pretty much the same thing that happens with tea. For example, green tea is completely unoxidised (0%), oolong tea is semi-oxidised (15%-70%) while black tea is fully oxidised (100%).

Why loose leaf tea and not tea bags?
Loose leaf teas from China, in our humble opinion, are the tastiest and most interesting in the world and that’s generally down to how they‘re made: hand picked and hand processed by skilled producers. That doesn’t mean all loose leaf teas are created equal, but they’re certainly a cut above what you’ll find in any corporate tea bag i.e. bland and characterless, machine-made tea particles. If you’re getting into tea then our advice is to ditch the bags and start exploring what’s really out there.

So how come your teas are more expensive than a standard cup?
Simply put, it’s expensive for us to buy. Unlike mass produced tea bags, handmade tea is a luxury item in China, like a nice bottle of wine or a bar of single origin chocolate. So, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. That means for a bit more money you get loads more flavour, plenty of infusions and the satisfaction of knowing that a decent price was paid to the people and places that produced the tea in your cup. Our aim is to try and make our teas as affordable as we can. Huge profits are not our driving force, but the ability to share is.

How should I make tea?

In any way that makes you happy. However if you’re really not sure, the simplest way is to grab a mug and add a teaspoon of leaves, fill her up with hot water and drop the leaves in. Let the leaves stew in the mug and then sip away. In China this is called ‘grandpa style’ because all the older generations do it this way, especially with green tea. Don’t worry about getting a few leaves in your mouth, that’s considered lucky and once you’re empty just top it back up with hot water as good tea leaves should have plenty more to give. If you want to get more ‘expert’ with brewing and more creative see the next answer below (about gong fu tea)…

I’ve also heard about gong fu tea, what’s that all about?

Gong fu is another really fun and expressive way to make tea that comes from China. Traditionally, smaller vessels (like our yixing teapots or our gaiwans) are used with much higher ratio of leaf to water than we’re used to in the west. That way you can quickly infuse the tea leaves for a more concentrated flavour and enjoy many multiple re-infusions of the same leaves in a single sitting. If you want to give it a go, here’s a rough guide of what to do:

Use 5g of leaf per 120ml, add your water and leave for 20 seconds on the 1st infusion, then pour it all out into a large cup or decanter and enjoy. When you are ready re-infuse, adding 10 seconds for each subsequent infusion (2nd: 30sec / 3rd: 40sec / etc.) Keep the temperature consistent for each infusion, or not… it’s your world, have fun and experiment.

Does tea contain caffeine?

Yes! All tea contains a relatively similar amount of caffeine, as all tea is made from the same caffeine containing plant, called Camellia Sinensis. Herbal “teas” or tisanes, like peppermint, chamomile etc. will not contain caffeine as they’re made from other herbs and flowers. Caffeine is a chemical produced by these plants to defend themselves from predatory insects. It is a natural occurring chemical.

Are your teas organic?

Yes, in practice. The gardens and producers we source from are organic, but can’t afford the expensive certifications just to tick the box for us westerners. So we visit the gardens ourselves and speak with producers directly to make sure we’re getting our tea as nature intended. Many of our teas are ‘wild’ which means zero chemical maintenance was used in the process of their growth. Because of this sometimes these teas don’t always get harvested due to unfavourable weather conditions. So we’re very much subservient to mother nature and how she treats our beloved tea leaves.

Is there a tea to make me lose weight?

No, not directly. there are a ton of claims about the health impacts of tea, but don’t rely on them to make you happy. Tea would certainly be a healthy addition to a balanced diet and lifestyle,  but it can also facilitate plenty of mindful moments.

I have a question that you didn’t answer here…
No worries, get in touch with us directly at: hi@blackcloudtea.com and we’ll be happy to answer your tea related questions.