Updated: Jul 31, 2020
We asked our founder, tea sommelier Jennie Ripps, about building a tea collection. Here are her answers!
There are so many teas! How would you begin thinking about a tea collection?
I’d think about it the way I approached building out restaurant tea programs — you want to have a really accessible base if you’re only bringing 5-10 teas into your home (or restaurant). You definitely want the “basics” (ie, English breakfast or chamomile), but high quality, interesting versions. When thinking about a tea program or collection, I also consider a broad range of flavors and — of course — health benefits. For instance, I’d never advise someone to have 9 different black teas in their collection — although I have consulted on fun programs that were black or green tea centric.
What is the difference between white tea, green tea, and black tea?
They are actually all made from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis! The difference is in their oxidation levels.
Anything to look for in tea brands?
I prefer whole leaf teas whenever possible. A quick trick for this (because the packaging doesn’t always say if the tea is whole leaf!) is to either buy tea loose in bulk, or purchase from brands that offer pyramid sachet bags (which are see-through).
Are all these teas meant to be brewed hot?
For this project, every teas can be made hot or iced!! That’s very important to me, as a tea maker (and as a mom!)
**check out the bottom of the article for instructions on how to brew hot tea and iced tea**
What are the health benefits of tea?
Generally, the tea plant’s dried leaves are super rich in antioxidants. Tea is great for the skin, the metabolism, really your whole body. Tons of research has been done on how excellent tea is for you, and green tea has been particularly well researched.
Personally, I love working with botanicals as well as tea, and so I’ve added in a few dried botanicals that will be ideal for this collection. This also adds a lot of versatility — for instance, you can drink ginger at bedtime and it will help with digestion — but in the morning, it’s a perfect pick-me-up blended with English Breakfast tea!
Jennie’s “Tea 1” Tea Collection
Black tea is antioxidant rich, and has just enough caffeine for a morning boost. Black tea is the most processed of all teas, as it is fully oxidized. The fresh leaves are withered for a number of hours, and then rolled. After they have oxidized sufficiently, the leaves are heated and then dried in wood fires.
A staple tea, English Breakfast has floral notes, and warm aromatics. We love this tea piping hot & black, or combined with a splash of milk. This also yields an excellent iced tea, or Arnold Palmer (just squeeze in fresh lemon).
Bergamot oil is blended with tea leaves to provide Earl Grey’s characteristic scent and flavor. This tea has citrus notes, and is lovely in the morning or mid-afternoon.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants, metabolism boosting, and contains less caffeine than black tea (with the exception of matcha). Green tea is minimally oxidized — the leaves are usually withered but not rolled. Following the brief oxidation period, the leaves are steamed or pan-fried to halt oxidation, and then rolled again.
Jennie’s favorite green tea, Genmaicha has a fascinating history. In feudal Japan, green tea was very expensive. In order to prolong their stores, peasants blended brown rice into the tea. Genmaicha is still mixed with brown rice and popped corn. It brews to an almost electric yellow- green color, and has all the vegetal flavors of green tea, mixed with a warm maltiness, from the corn & rice.
The only tea on this list that is whisked and not brewed, Matcha is actually made from tea leaves that are grown in the shade, and is a powerhouse for l-theanine and chlorophyll. To make matcha, tea leaves are harvested, dried and then pulverized. Matcha comes in powdered form and is whisked in order to make a tea. Whisk matcha into water or into almond milk for a latte…and matcha can be made hot or cold.
Green tea leaves are blended with jasmine flowers in order to be fully infused with their beautiful scent. Sip green tea on its own, and appreciate its lovely delicate taste.
Each of these tisanes has its own health benefits, so read on for more.
Ginger has natural anti-nausea properties, and can help relieve an upset stomach; it is also a great immunity-booster.
Hibiscus flowers are natural anti-inflammatories. Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants, is excellent for respiratory health, and is often used as a sleep aid.
Chamomile promotes calm and provides full-body stress relief; it is also excellent at calming an upset stomach.
Peppermint is a natural, caffeine-free way to boost focus, and is an anti-inflammatory, and a particularly powerful stomach soother.
Tea Kettle (Jennie likes Breville)
Matcha Bowl & Whisk
Tea balls or Finum Paper filters (if purchasing loose tea)
Pitchers for Iced Tea (Jennie likes Takeya)
Hot Tea Instructions
1 Teaspoon per 6-8oz cup
Heat and brew as directed
-if you cannot control temperature, is simply to always use hot, not boiling water! See below for specific temperatures
Iced Tea Instructions
2-3 Teaspoons per 6-8oz cup
Brew in ambient water for two hours or more,
-Keep your pitcher or vessel covered (just so nothing “drops” in), and agitate from time to time
HOT TEA BREW TIMES
Black: Brew at 195-205 degrees for three minutes.
Green: Brew at 170-180 degrees for 2-3 minutes.
Tisane: Brew at 195-200 degrees for 4-5 minutes.