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11 Things You Don't, But Should, Know About Tea

Updated on May 2, 2016

1. All Tea is Made from the Same Plant

Black, oolong (sometimes called "wulong"), green and white tea are all the same plant, Camellia sinensis, although there are certainly different varietals and cultivars, some which are more suited to making different types of tea than others . But the distinctions between different tea types are a matter of processing method, not the tea plant itself.

The word "tea" can also be used to describe a liquid infusion of any herb. Hence the term "herbal tea". But "herbal teas" are not true teas, and in the tea industry they are known as tisanes.


2. Tea has Less Caffeine than Coffee

The tea vs. coffee caffeine issue is likely due to the fact that people will compare the amount of caffeine in a set amount of dry tea leaf to an equal weight in coffee beans. But the amounts of tea leaf and coffee beans required to make their respective beverages are not equal. According to this article on MayoClinic.com, a cup of black tea has anywhere from 14-61 milligrams of caffeine per cup while a cup of "generic brewed" coffee has 95-200mg per cup.

Please note: This article previously stated that it was easy to decaffeinate tea by letting it steep in hot water for a bit. While this does remove some of the caffeine, it certainly isn't as much as originally claimed. Check out this article on the Cha Dao blog by tea industry expert, Nigel Melican for more details.

3. Green Tea is Not Caffeine Free

In fact, according to the aforementioned article on MayoClinic.com, some green teas can have even more caffeine than some black teas, with as much as 40 milligrams of caffeine per cup.

4. "Decaf" Tea is Not Free of Caffeine

Decaffeinated tea may still have some residual caffeine. While this may not be enough to cause you any difficulties, if you are very sensitive, you may be better off drinking a non-caffeinated herbal or fruit tisane instead.

5. "Orange Pekoe" Tea Doesn't Taste Like Oranges

"Orange Pekoe" is a designation that describes the size of tea leaf pieces. It has nothing to do with the color of the tea or any added flavorings.


6. You Can Reuse Tea Leaves

Yes, you can reuse your tea leaves, though some types of tea re-steep better than others. In general, larger leaf teas re-steep better than smaller, broken leaves. Oolongs and pu'erh's, in particular, can actually improve from steep to steep, as the process of re-steeping reveals different flavors in the leaf. The other nifty thing about re-steeping tea is that doing so reduces your cost per cup, making the pricier oolongs and pu'erhs more affordable.

7. Not all Tea Should be Prepared with Boiling Water

When people tell me that they don't like green tea (or that it gives them a tummy ache), the first question I ask them is: "Did you make it with boiling water?" If they say "yes", I explain that not all teas should be prepared with boiling water. Green teas should be prepared with water heated between 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit(65.5 - 82.2C). White teas can sometimes stand hotter water: About 195F (90.5C), though some fare better with green tea temperatures. Boiling water can extract disagreeable flavors from green teas, so let your water cool a bit before steeping.


8. "Strong" Tea Should Be Made with More Leaf

If you like a strong cup, try adding more leaf before increasing steep time. Steeping tea too long can result in bitter and "off" flavors whereas more leaf can provide you with the rich cup that you want.


9. Tea Eggs and Tea Balls are Not Good Choices

I am sad to report that sellers of loose tea may try to sell you small tea infusers (such as tea eggs or tea balls). The problem with these infusers is that they do not allow tea leaves to unfurl properly, and thus will rob you of the full flavor of the tea. Get a proper teapot or brew mug that allows the tea leaf to unfurl and move freely.



10. Tea Doesn't Have to Be Dehydrating

For many years people labored under the delusion that drinking tea was a bad idea because it deydrated you. But recent research shows that this is not the case: Tea is only a diuretic when consumed in very large amounts.

11. You Don't need a Special "Diet" Tea

Unscrupulous merchants will sometimes try to sell you a special "diet" tea, usually citing recent research into tea's anti-obesity properties.

There are three problems with these special "diet" teas:

1. They may contain purgative herbs which can be dangerous if used improperly.

2. The "teas" may not contain any true tea at all.

3. In most cases, they are just selling you ordinary tea at ridiculous prices. For example, one retailer wants to sell you 60 teabags of oolong tea for $36. Yet you can get 120 bags of Twinings oolong tea for $20.28. Why pay more?


11. It's a Good Idea to Warm Your Teapot Prior to Steeping Your Tea

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the extra step allows you to enjoy the scent of tea leaves added to a warmed pot (it is really rather nice). The second reason is that warming the pot helps it to keep your tea warm. All you need to do is add boiling water to the pot, keeping it there until you are ready to prepare your tea. Pour off the "warming water" and then add your leaf and water for steeping.

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    • choosetolive profile image

      Ravi and Swastha 

      3 years ago from London, Canada

      Nice research & good information. As you mentioned in this hub, we have been following some of the information. Other information is a bonus to us. Thanks & voted up. Useful info.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      As a fellow tea drinker, great interesting facts about tea. I use my tea pot and my Keurig for drinking tea. I also drink it at church. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Nicholas 

      3 years ago

      Wonderful article, so fun to hear about other people's views on tea and culture. I have been living with a family of tea farmers in Xishuangbanna Yunnan in Southwestern China, the birthplace of tea. The first tea the world ever had is what we now call Puer tea, raw Puer. After spending much time with this family, I have been able to share this tea with folks. The culture, the love, and the way this tea makes you feel is incomparable and the tea is all from one family, one farm. Definitely just would love to chat about tea sometime if you want to write me. www.MistyPeakTeas.com happy to send out any samples as well. Anyone tried Raw Puer tea? The green kind?

    • profile image

      Alaa 

      6 years ago

      Being a programmer, Tea is part of my life, before I got into programming, I was working out, eat& drink healthy and nutritious food&drinks, but now I gave Gym up, eat less & drink tea much, due to that I lost weight, but I cannot give tea up ever, thanks for letting my know these valuable info :)

    • Sam's Food 4 Life profile image

      Sam's Food 4 Life 

      7 years ago from Rockford, IL

      I'm a big fan of tea, but I didn't realize that about green tea. I can try again with that stuff maybe. Of course, being a Southern gal, I like iced tea too.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      8 years ago

      I like to pre-warm my cup so the tea stays hotter longer

    • profile image

      no need to know 

      8 years ago

      tea is good and every body love tea and should drink it for strength and warmth

    • profile image

      bello 

      8 years ago

      Good information package for starters. Warming the tea pot was new to me though.

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Edbo:

      Actually, even if you only fill a tea infuser by half, it still won't be large enough for many teas, including several oolongs and some black teas like Yunnan Gold.

      Also, in my post, I specifically said "small" infusers: I have seen larger infusers that can work well enough. But I still favor the use of teapots and a strainer for making tea.

    • profile image

      Edbo 

      9 years ago

      Well you were right on everything except the infusers. If you fill the infuser half full, the tea will have room to unfurl.

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 

      10 years ago from Washington, USA

      I once bought this "miracle slimming tea" in a local chinese store. Although it didn't work but it didn't even taste good. My office colleague gifted me a red color tea from South Africa(I don't remember the brand it had a lion picture on the box) and it was really good.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      10 years ago from Australia

      McLainie, you must tell me what you think of the tea?

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Susan: Yes, I can't believe how sweet good cinnamon can be. No sugar needed in that tea!

      Jewels: My mouth is watering. Zhitea here I come!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      10 years ago from Australia

      Yummmm, Susan I know you will love this one. It's hard to know where to stop, the Zhitea range is very good. Cheers!

    • SusanBonfiglio profile image

      SusanBonfiglio 

      10 years ago from Woodmere, NY

      The hot cinnnmon sunset is my favorite Harney and Sons. I love that stuff. It is a great fall tea and the cinnamon pops in your mouth.

      I went on the site Jewels recommends and that sweet desert delight tea sounds wonderful. I am going to get some.

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Jewels: Thanks for the tip, and the Sweet Desert Delight sounds amazing. I'll check them out!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      10 years ago from Australia

      My favorite is their own special blend called Sweet Desert Delight. A blend of Rooibos, cinnamon, cacao and coconut and is zero caffeine. It's Certified organic also. Their whole range is certified organic. I understand they had an offer that if you write a blog on their tea you will get some free samples. I've tasted quite a few of theirs, hard to pick the best. Tell them an Australian Woman named Julie told you about them. If you like tea you will like theirs, I've no doubt on that.

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Jewels: That's a brand I have never heard of . . .what is your favourite in that range?

      BTW, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Susan:

      Ah yes, I have had Haney and Son's Hot Cinnamon Sunset black tea, which utterly divine! And yes, silver needles are the best white tea out there...I have a secret stash, and only enjoy it once a week or so!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      10 years ago from Australia

      I get my tea from Zhitea.com It's a US based company. Fantastic range MsLainie you may want to do a review on this one.

    • SusanBonfiglio profile image

      SusanBonfiglio 

      10 years ago from Woodmere, NY

      I am using a white silver needle tea from the Sovereign Tea Co. I got it from Andrew Lessman. I also get my tea from Haney and Sons.

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Susan!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I have started doing tea reviews at my blog: www.lainiesips.com

      I am also very fond of white teas. Do you have a favorite?

    • SusanBonfiglio profile image

      SusanBonfiglio 

      10 years ago from Woodmere, NY

      I enjoyed your hub. I have recently gotten into tea. I enjoy white tea more than green and orange rooisbos tea. Maybe you can do some tea reviews? How do you know who makes the best tea? There are so many companies.

      Thanks for the hub.

    • 02SmithA profile image

      02SmithA 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for the informative hub. I had heard that tea was dehydrating so I'm glad that doesn't seem to be true!

    • MsLainieP profile imageAUTHOR

      Lainie Petersen 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • Listessa profile image

      Listessa 

      10 years ago from Your Sub-conscious

      I'll remember to warm my pot! :) Nice job Lainie

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