Tea 101

Black Teas

HOW IS BLACK TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

Many people don't realize that all tea: black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea, come from the tea plant, camellia sinensis. The difference between green tea and black tea is that black tea leaves are fully oxidized.

Think of a sliced apple turning brown after a couple hours. That's oxidation at work! To make black tea, the tea leaves are harvested, then allowed to wilt. Then they're rolled or crushed to increase the oxidation process, which turns the leaves blackish brown, hence, "black tea." Once the leaves are fully oxidized, they're heated and dried to halt the oxidation process and preserve their flavor.

WHERE DOES BLACK TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

Black tea originated in China, but it didn't really take off until the British aristocracy discovered it in the 1600s. The British preferred black tea to green tea, possibly because it stored better on the long sea journeys from China. They also developed the tradition of adding milk and sugar to black tea – with all of the ingredients being a display of their wealth and status.

Today, black tea is produced and enjoyed around the world. From China and India, to the Middle East and Africa, many regions and cultures enjoy this rich, bold tea. Popular black tea blends include Earl Grey which is scented with bergamot citrus oil, and English Breakfast, a crisp blend of pure black teas. Masala Chai from India combines black tea with exotic spices, milk and sugar, and Lapsang Souchong from China scents black tea with smoked pine wood for a uniquely savory experience.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Like all true tea, black tea contains caffeine. It is on the higher end of the caffeine spectrum due to its production and steeping style, but it still only contains about ⅓ the caffeine of an 8 ounce cup of coffee.

Green tea gets all the attention for its antioxidants, but black tea actually contains a lot of antioxidants as well! Studies indicate that antioxidants in both black and green tea may help boost brain function and protect the heart. One unique component in black tea is theaflavin, a polyphenol produced during black tea's oxidation process. Theaflavins may help lower cholesterol and promote fat breakdown.

IS BLACK TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

Black teas are strong, dark and intense. If you enjoy coffee, porter beer or red wine, black tea might be the one for you. It's by far the most popular type of tea in the U.S., but if you've only had teabag tea or bottled iced tea, you've got so much more to discover. The world of premium black tea is a complex and intriguing journey. Start your exploration today!

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Tea 101

Green Teas

HOW IS GREEN TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

Green Tea is only slightly oxidized and lightly processed. Once the tea leaves are picked, they are heated to stop the oxidation process, then dried. The result is a fresh, sweet flavor and earthy aroma.

Chinese green teas are typically roasted in a wok-like vessel, or in an oven. This gives the tea rich buttery, nutty and roasty nuances. Japanese green teas are steamed, yielding a brothy, vegetal flavor, reminiscent of sauteed baby spinach or spring peas.

And let's not forget matcha! Matcha is a powdered form of Japanese green tea, traditionally stone ground then whisked into a froth with a bamboo whisk. Powdered tea actually predates loose leaf tea, but matcha was taken to a whole new level through the Japanese tea ceremony. Today, people enjoy this powdered green tea in everything from ice cream and cookies, to smoothies and tea lattes. You'll even find it in skin care products. Care to add a pinch of matcha to your face mask? Be our guest! We'll just enjoy our matcha in our cups though.

WHERE DOES GREEN TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

Green tea production originated in China, where they've mastered the art of crafting complex, flavorful green teas that yield a wide range of flavors. Compare the dreamy, mellow Organic Mao Feng to the roasty, powerful Gunpowder green tea. Or savor the peachy-sweet White Monkey with its fragrant floral notes.

Over in Japan, green tea has been a national obsession for centuries. Sencha is the typical "everyday tea," enjoyed by young and old all day long. Stop into a sushi bar and you might be served Genmaicha, a smooth blend of toasted rice kernels and green tea. Or participate in the Japanese tea ceremony and you'll be served a bowl of freshly whisked Matcha. For the ultimate Japanese tea experience, you'll want to try the lovingly shade-grown Gyokuro, or "jade dew", which is basically the Kobe beef of the Japanese tea world!

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

So, green tea is super-healthy, right? There's a bit of a green tea craze going on because of its high levels of antioxidants. Studies indicate that antioxidants may provide a wide range of benefits including fat loss, brain health, improved cholesterol and a lowered risk of cancer. While we can't say for sure if these health claims are true, we like to think that any health benefits are an added bonus to enjoying a delicious cup of green tea!

Green tea is also popular because of its low caffeine levels. A cup of green tea only has about 20 mg of caffeine, compared to 120 mg in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. And thanks to the relaxing, focusing properties of L-theanine in green tea, you'll enjoy a gentle boost of energy and mental clarity, without the jitters that coffee can induce.

IS GREEN TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

Green tea often gets a bad rap for being bitter or tasting like "grass clippings." If that's what you think of green tea, you've definitely never tried a high quality green tea that's been brewed properly! Check out our Tea 101 page for tips on how to brew the perfect cup of green tea.

Light and bright, sometimes with a crisp tannic edge, you might enjoy green tea if you drink white wines, lagers or ciders. On the flip side, matcha is popular for its rich espresso-like texture and hints of semisweet chocolate. A shot of matcha in the morning is a great alternative for coffee lovers!

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Tea 101

Oolong Teas

HOW IS OOLONG TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

Oolong tea has the widest range of flavors compared to other types of tea. This is because it spans the gap between almost zero oxidation (green teas) to full oxidation (black teas). One type of oolong can have bright green leaves and a floral, fruity infusion, while another can almost look like a black tea, with powerful dark chocolate and coffee notes.

Making oolong tea is a little more intricate than green teas and black teas. After the tea leaves are picked, they're allowed to wilt, then rolled or twisted to increase oxidation. The leaves are then heated in a hot air tumbler or wok. This rolling/twisting/heating process is repeated over and over again (often 20 times or more!) to achieve the perfect flavor and aroma. Once the tea is crafted to perfection, the leaves are dried to preserve their flavors. After that, some oolongs are also roasted to give the tea a deep, woodsy character.

WHERE DOES OOLONG TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

Oolong tea originated in China, and different tea producing regions are known for their unique oolongs with special flavor profiles. The Fujian Province is known for its legendary Ti Kwan Yin Oolong, a floral, buttery oolong that green tea lovers would adore. For a highly oxidized oolong more akin a black tea, our August Peach Oolong is dark and toasty, without the tannic edge that black tea has.

Taiwan is also famed for its oolong teas, such as the delicate Coconut Pouchong, or the honey-sweet Oriental Beauty. Today, many other countries are starting to produce oolong tea as well. Try our Indian Oolong for a fruity infusion with juicy apricot and muscat grape notes!

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Oolong tea is often touted as a "weight loss tea," but people forget that all true tea (including green, black, white and oolong) comes from the same plant. While all tea contains antioxidants, oolong tea has been shown in studies to potentially aid weight loss, improve heart health and even help prevent cavities.

On the caffeine scale, oolong is a medium-caffeinated tea. However, that's still only about a quarter of the caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. Oolong tea is also particularly good at being re-infused, giving you multiple cups of tea from the same tea leaves. You can get a good three to six infusions or more from the same leaves! The subsequent infusions are said to contain less caffeine than the first infusions, making it a good tea to start off with in the morning, then continue to re-steep all day long.

IS OOLONG TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

Oolong teas are especially complex and sophisticated. Anyone can enjoy oolong tea, but it's a great option if you've started to get into tea and want to expand your palate further. If you're a foodie, you'll love the wide range of flavors available in oolongs, and will enjoy honing your pairing and tasting skills.

If you're a green tea fan, try a lightly oxidized oolongs like Monkey Picked Oolong and Ti Kwan Yin. Black tea lovers will be drawn to the intriguing Dark Pearl Formosa and Smoked Mango Oolong. There's something for everyone in the world of oolong teas. If you're ready to dive deeper into tea flavors and aromas, explore our Oolong Teas today!

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Tea 101

White Teas

HOW IS WHITE TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

Green tea you've probably heard of. But what's white tea all about? White tea is the least processed of all teas. The downy buds of the tea plant and the youngest of tea leaves are gently plucked, then dried with hot air or allowed to sun dry. That's it! The result is a delicate tea with a pale golden infusion and a smooth, sweet flavor profile.

WHERE DOES WHITE TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

White tea originated in the Fujian Province in China. This is still where most of the best white tea comes from, though some other countries have started to produce white tea as well. Bai Mu Dan, or White Peony, is a famed white tea with a stronger flavor profile for white teas. It has a sweet floral character with with a hint of thyme and juicy peach.

For a lighter cup, Silver Needle White Tea is made from just the long, downy buds of the tea plant. The buds really do look like silver needles. They yield a sublimely smooth, creamy infusion with notes of warmed sugar and alfalfa. White tea already has a champagne-like character, and our Raspberry Champagne White Tea takes it even further by adding notes of champagne and red raspberry.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Because white tea is minimally processed, it's popular for its high antioxidant content. The tea plant varietal that Fujian white tea comes from also plays a part in its high antioxidants and extra-low caffeine level. A cup of white tea contains about 15 mg of caffeine, compared to 45 mg in black tea, and 120 mg in an 8 ounce cup of coffee!

While studies do indicate that white tea may provide a variety of benefits from combatting skin aging to improved bone health, we always recommend drinking the tea that tastes great to you. If you love white tea, you'll naturally drink it, just because it's delicious!

IS WHITE TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

If you're looking for a lower-caffeine option, white tea may be the choice for you. Check out our Caffeine-o-Meter blog post for more info on the caffeine levels in different types of tea compared to coffee, soda and energy drinks.

White tea appeals to those who keeps things light and bright. It's definitely not a tea you want to add milk to, since its delicate flavor will get lost behind the heaviness of cream. If you enjoy sparkling wine, a good rosé or light beer, you might like white tea. For green tea fans, white tea is also a natural progression. For a low-caf tea with a super smooth flavor profile, this is the tea for you!

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Tea 101

Yerba Mate

HOW IS YERBA MATE MADE?

Tea Making Process

Yerba mate (pronounced YER-buh MAH-tay) is a small South American tree related to the holly family. Yerba mate can be enjoyed in two forms: green or roasted. To make the more traditional green yerba mate, the leaves are simply picked, then dried. This yields a vegetal and lightly astringent infusion. Yerba mate can also be roasted, yielding a darker, smoother infusion similar to a black tea.

To brew yerba mate in the traditional manner, a generous scoop of tea is placed into a cured gourd vessel, then steeped in hot water. Friends sip the tea through a straw with a strainer on the end, passing the gourd amongst each other as a symbol of hospitality and community. We like to steep yerba mate like a regular tea, infusing it for a few minutes then removing the leaves.

WHERE DOES YERBA MATE COME FROM?

Tea Origin

This highly caffeinated infusion was originally consumed by the Guarani natives of South America, who considered yerba mate to be healthy for both the body and the soul. Today yerba mate is popular around the world, and is produced in South American countries including Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

At Fusion Teas we also carry a less well-known cousin of yerba mate, called guayusa (pronounced guah-YOO-sah). Guayusa yields a more mellow infusion compared to the intenseness of green yerba mate, and hails from the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. Natives there nicknamed guayusa "The Night Watchman," and drank it before night-time hunting trips to heighten their senses and boost energy levels.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Yerba mate has become trendy recently because of the sustained energy it provides, coupled with high nutrient and antioxidant levels. Among its potential health benefits, studies indicate that yerba mate can help with weight loss, boost the immune system and improve digestion. It also contains a whole host of nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E, and B, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and more!

American and European athletes have started to opt for yerba mate over coffee because yerba mate provides a steady caffeine boost, without the jitters and crash that coffee can induce. Yerba mate also has an alkalizing effect on the body, making it a great choice for those who don't like the acidic effects of coffee.

Some studies indicate yerba mate has even more antioxidants than green tea! The types of antioxidants in the two teas are different, but the benefits may be similar. To us, the simple solution is to get both types of antioxidants by enjoying both yerba mate and green tea! Of course, we always recommend just choosing the tea you enjoy the most. After all, a tea sitting in your cupboard collecting dust won't be of any benefit at all!

IS YERBA MATE FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

Are you a recovering coffee addict who is looking for a new morning energy boost? Are you looking for a drink to give you sustained energy and focus? Do you love strong black teas or green teas and are looking for another robust infusion to delight your palate? If you've answered "yes" to any of the above, you've come to the right herb.

Roasted yerba mates are perfect for coffee drinkers and black tea fans. Our best-selling Good Morning Yerba Mate is strong enough to stand up to a splash of milk, and can even be turned into a "tea latte" with steamed milk and honey. Green yerba mate blends like our Extreme Mango Yerba Mate are perfect for green tea fans who could use an extra boost of energy in their cup. Once you try "the drink of the gods," we think you'll agree... it's simply divine!

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Tea 101

Rooibos Teas

HOW IS ROOIBOS TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is a small South African shrub with needle-shaped leaves. Originally, the Khoisan Tribe in the region harvested the leaves and prepared rooibos as a tea, similar to the way it's produced today. There are two types of rooibos: green rooibos is not oxidized, while the more popular red rooibos does undergo oxidation.

To make red rooibos, the leaves are cut up into pieces and rolled, to promote oxidation. This is what changes the leaves from green to red. After that, the leaves are spread out in the sun to try. Green rooibos skips the oxidation step, similar to the difference between green tea and black tea production. Green rooibos yields a milder infusion with a light grassy flavor, while red rooibos is known for a deep nutty flavor with earthy sweetness.

WHERE DOES ROOIBOS TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

Rooibos thrives in the remote mountains of Cedarburg, South Africa, near Cape Town. So far no other countries have been successful at cultivating rooibos, so all of the rooibos we offer is from this one small region of South Africa!

Because of its sweet, mellow flavor, rooibos is perfect for blending with other flavors such as fruit, caramel, vanilla and chocolate. Some of our most popular rooibos blends include Carrot Cake Rooibos, Caribbean Colada, and Blueberries & Cream.

Honeybush tea is a close relative of rooibos, also native to South Africa. This tea yields a woodsy-sweet flavor similar rooibos, but with more sweet overtones. Our Chocolate Cake Honeybush and Tropical Island Honeybush are popular choices for those with a sweet tooth!

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Rooibos has taken the world by storm in recent years. With smooth, full-bodied flavor similar to a black tea, it's a very approachable beverage. On top of that, rooibos contains high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients like iron, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc. Magnesium in rooibos may help relieve insomnia and headaches, and antioxidants are well known for potentially helping prevent cancer.

Rooibos is naturally caffeine free, and never gets bitter. In fact the longer you steep rooibos, the sweeter the infusion becomes. Considering its delicious flavor and health benefits, there really isn't anything not to like about rooibos. Try one of our rooibos blends, and we're sure you'll see what all the buzz is about!

IS ROOIBOS TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

If you're looking for a caffeine-free infusion with rich flavor, rooibos will be a great choice for you. You'll also love rooibos if you usually prefer black teas, or like adding milk to your tea. Rooibos is one of the few herbal teas that can stand up well to milk. You can even make a dreamy rooibos tea latte by adding some steamed milk and a dash of vanilla extract.

With its naturally sweet flavor, rooibos is also a great option for those who are looking to curb their sweet tooth. Instead of reaching for a sugary drink, try a naturally sweet glass of iced rooibos tea. It's luscious, satisfying flavor – minus all of the calories!

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Tea 101

Hibiscus Teas

HOW IS HIBISCUS TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

People often assume hibiscus tea is made from the petals of the hibiscus flowers, but the tea is actually made from the dark red protective layer that encloses the hibiscus flower bud, called a calyx. Once harvested and dried, hibiscus tea yields a bright red infusion that's bold, sweet-tart and cranberry-like.

While "true" tea (green tea, black tea, white tea and oolong tea) comes from the camellia sinensis plant, hibiscus tea is in the category of herbals, or tisanes. Hibiscus tea is naturally caffeine free, and its tangy-sweet flavor makes a great option for blending with other fruits and spices.

WHERE DOES HIBISCUS TEA COME FROM?

Tea Origin

Hibiscus flowers originated in Africa, and it's said that Egyptian pharaohs enjoyed cold hibiscus tea as a way to help them stay cool in the hot desert climate. Today, hibiscus tea is popular around the world from Turkey to Jamaica, Mexico to Thailand. Hibiscus flowers are now cultivated in many tropical regions, including Central and South America, Australia, Hawaii and the Caribbean.

Here in North America we're still catching up to the trend, but hibiscus tea is slowly gaining popularity. At Fusion Teas, it's one of our favorite iced tea options! Our hibiscus teas are expertly blended with fruits and spices including berries, mango and coconut, to create dreamy infusions that taste great hot or iced. Sip a cup and you'll understand why this tropical tea has enchanted people since the days of the pharaohs!

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Hibiscus tea is popular for its potential benefits in promoting heart health and lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the biggest causes of death in the U.S. Hibiscus tea is also rich in vitamin C, studies indicate that it may also help boost the metabolism and support a strong immune system.

IS HIBISCUS TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

Do you like sour gummy candies, strawberry lemonade or cranberry vodka martinis? If you enjoy a little mouthwatering zing, you'll love the punchy flavors of hibiscus.

With zero caffeine and a zingy cranberry-like flavor, hibiscus tea can be enjoyed by the whole family. Kids especially love the fun pink color! Add a splash of lemonade to a glass of iced hibiscus for a fantastic "fruit punch" alternative.

Hibiscus is also a great choice if you're trying to cut down on sugary drinks. With its full, berry-like flavor, it's a great alternative to soda pop. Brew up a big pitcher of iced hibiscus tea, and enjoy it all day long – guilt-free, and with added benefits of Vitamin C, to boot!

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Tea 101

Herbal Teas

HOW IS HERBAL TEA MADE?

Tea Making Process

That's kind of like asking, how are cookies made? There are countless types of cookies (and herbal teas) and all of them are delicious (cookies and herbal teas alike!). "Herbal tea" is an umbrella category for anything that is not "true tea." True tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, and includes green tea, black tea, oolong tea and white tea. Any other plants that can be dried and brewed up into a drink are considered herbal teas.

As you can imagine, it's an endless category with a diverse range of flavors! To make it easier in this tutorial, we'll leave out rooibos, yerba mate and hibiscus teas, since they have their own sections. From sweet to sour, floral to fruity, earthy to spicy, there's something for everyone in the world of herbal teas.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

Tea Health Benefits

Herbal teas have been enjoyed and used for medicinal purposes for millennia. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, ginger and cinnamon are used to detoxify the body and improve digestion. Peppermint is one of the most universal flavors around the world, and has been shown to help with nausea, indigestion and headaches. In traditional Chinese medicine, lemongrass is used to warm the body and decrease pain.

At Fusion Teas we're big fans of the herb tulsi, or "holy basil." Originally from India, tulsi is considered an "adaptogen" that helps the body adjust to life's stresses. Tulsi contains high levels of antioxidants, and studies indicate that it may help decrease inflammation and lower blood sugar levels.

Herbal teas are our top choice for evenings before bed, when we want something relaxing and caffeine-free. Unless you're drinking yerba mate, guayusa, or a blend which contains real tea or chocolate, our herbals are completely caffeine free. Check out our Sleep Aid Teas and Stress Relief Teas for extra-soothing herbal options.

IS HERBAL TEA FOR ME?

The Tea For Me

If you're looking for a caffeine-free tea, you're sure to find an herbal tea to delight your tastebuds. Enjoy juices or fruit smoothies? Try a fruit-forward blend like Majestic Mango or Strawberry Ginger. Prefer the spicy heat of chai or cinnamon candies? Our Orange Spice Tulsi takes it up a notch. Love minty ice cream? Try our Holy Detox Tulsi or pure Peppermint. More of a vanilla ice cream kind of person? Try our creamy Chamomile Vanilla Bean.

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