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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Tea

| Online Tea Store | Tea Dictionary |

Q: What is tea?
A: The tea plant is an evergreen of the Camellia family that is native to China, Tibet and northern India. There are two main varieties of the tea plant. The small leaf variety, known as Camellia sinensis, thrives in the cool, high mountain regions primarily of China, India, Sri Lanka and Japan. The broad leaf variety, known as Camellia assamica, grows best in the moist, tropical climates found in Northeast India and the Szechuan and Yunnan provinces of China. The plant produces dark green, shiny leaves (pictured on right) and small, white blossoms. There are four main types of tea - green tea, black tea, oolong tea and white tea.

Q: What is the difference between teabags and loose leaf tea?
A: There is no comparison of loose leaf tea which are large leaf and full body flavored to tea bags which are commonly manufactured from tea scraps.

Q: Is green tea better for you than black tea?
A: Both varieties come from the plant Camellia sinensis and both have similar amounts of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. The only difference is that black tea leaves are fermented (oxidized) and green is steamed. However, is is better for health because most varieties of green tea contain less caffeine. In the case of Matcha green tea powder there are more nutrients because the entire green tea leaf is mixed into your beverage.

Q: Why is Matcha green tea powder healthier than other green teas?
A: More nutrients are ingested because you mix the entire green tea leaf into your beverage. For nutritional details see Matcha health benefits.

Q: What is Oolong tea?
A: Oolong tea is semi fermented. Therefore, it produces a tea which is not quite black or green. It is somewhere in between the two and quite tasty.

Q: What is White tea?
A: White tea is not oxidized. It is a rare form of green tea buds or blossoms harvested only during the three day blossoming season of the tea plant. See white tea.

Q: What is herbal tea?
A: Herbal teas are not really tea. They are properly know as tisanes derived from the Greek, via the Latin "ptisana".Tisanes are made from pieces of dried fruit, flowers and berries. They naturally have no caffeine content.

Q: How popular is tea drinking?
A: Tea drinking is a pastime that is identified closely with the English. According to national statistics, every man, woman and child in Great Britain consumes at least four cups a day, and there is almost no occasion where a nice cup of tea is not appropriate. Tea consumption worldwide is the second only to water.

Q: Who is the largest producer of tea in the world?
A: In 2004 China (835,000 tons) overtook India (820.000 tons). Because of the popularity of tea, world production is at a all time high.

Q: Does Tea Contain Caffeine?
A: Yes. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee and even less is found in white, silver needle and decaf varieties. For specific caffeine amounts in the various teas read our tea dictionary about caffeine content in tea.

Q: Why is tea praised for its health benefits?
A: Tea contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, flavonoids, fluoride, no cholesterol, no fat, no sugar, natural vitamins, mineral and in the case of Matcha, fiber. Tea contains the polyphenol ECGC (epi-gallo-catechin gallate) know to inhibit the rapid growth of cancer cells without harming healthy cells. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers. Additionally, 3.5 ozs. of Matcha contains Vitamin A: 16,000IU, Vitamin B1: 0.6mg, Vitamin B2: 1.35mg, Vitamin C: 60mg Vitamin E: 35.9mg, Proteins & Amino Acids: 30.7% and Fiber: 10%.

Q: What are antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols and catechins?
A: Antioxidants bind harmful oxygen-containing molecules in your body called free radicals and peroxides that otherwise could damage your DNA, cell membranes, and other cell components. The process of breaking down food for energy creates free radicals in your body everyday. Naturally occurring antioxidants found in most plants including fruits and vegetables help your body keep free radicals in check.

Flavonoids are nutrient antioxidants found in most plants and many foods common in the human diet. There are 12 types of flavonoids, and one plant species may contain hundreds of different flavonoids. Polyphenol is a broad class of antioxidants including flavonoids and catechins. Catechins are a type of flavonoid contained in the leaves of tea. Catechins are very strong antioxidants, even more powerful than vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene at combating harmful free radicals and protecting fragile DNA.

Q: How do antioxidants work?
A: When a free radical releases or steals an electron, a second radical is formed. This molecule then turns around and does the same thing to a third molecule, continuing to generate more unstable substances. The process continues until termination occurs -- either the radical is stabilized by a chain-breaking antioxidant such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, or it simply decays into a harmless product.

Q: Does green tea contribute to weight loss?
A: Yes - See our green tea health benefits.

Q: Does the addition of milk reduce the antioxidant value?
A: The addition of milk does not appear to affect the bioavailability of the tea flavonoids, but does increase calcium intake.

Q: Do green and black teas come from different plants?
A: No, they both come from the same plant known by its botanical name Camellia sinensis.

Q: How is decaffeinated tea produced?
A: Simply by “washing” the tea leaves towards the end of the production process in an organic solvent. This process does deminish the nutrients, however. The method is strictly governed by legal limits. A newer healthy method of decaffeinating tea uses a CO2 process which avoids the loss of nutrients.

Q: How many varieties of tea are there?
A: Tea Council estimates about 1,500 varieties of Camellia sinensis plant which are of the evergreen family.

Q: How do you brew green and herbal teas?
A: Green Teas: Steep a tea in a cup of almost boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Normally, oversteeping of green teas can make them bitter, however, our green teas are very mild and have little bitterness, so you can steep them longer, according to your taste. Herbal tissanes need to be steeped for 10 minutes or longer in boiling hot water to extract the benefits, but will not get bitter. See brewing tea.

Q: What is Rooibos Tea?
A: Rooibos (meaning red bush is African) is a natural herb containing no caffeine and extremely healthy. Rooibos is grown only in a small area 250km north of Cape Town in the Cedarberg area of South Africa. It contains more antioxidants than tea and has anti aging properties. It is also a very relaxing and flavorful beverage.

Q: How long can you safely store tea?
A: Although each type of tea has a different shelf life, it's best to use or tea within 6 to 12 months of purchase. Green teas perish the quickest and begin to deteriorate within a year of harvest. Oolong and black teas retain their characteristics for several years. This is only true if the tea is stored in a cool dry place in a sealed container away from light.

Q: Why does tea refresh you in hot weather?
A: It simply raises the body temperature momentarily, you perspire and the perspiration on your skin creates a cooling effect. In the case of iced tea, it lowers body temperature.

"A day without tea is a day without joy."
- Chinese proverb

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