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Teas 101

Welcome to Earth’s General Store’s ‘Teas 101′ where you will learn more about teas, tisanes, infusions, and general tea lore.

All teas are only made by plant leaves that come from the species Camellia sinensis and brewed in hot water. Black tea, green teas, white teas and oolong teas all come from the same plant – Camellia sinensis. The different flavours are characteristics developed in the plant caused by climate, growing conditions, soil, picking time and processing – just like wines.

All other plant mater (leaves, berries, flowers, bark or roots) that are soaked in water are referred to as infusions, herbal infusions or tisanes. It is not the purpose of this website to offer any medical advice for using any of the products on this or any other web page on our site. Information presented here is basic and you will need to do your own research for usage elsewhere.

There are some standard/accepted procedures for making teas and infusions.

Tea making

Black Teas

I have been drinking black tea for over 50 years, and have owned and operated a tea shop.

This is how I make black tea:

  • Boil a little more cold water than you need to fill you teapot (or cup). Ensure the water comes to a full rolling boil.
  • Put the appropriate amount of tealeaves in a strainer/tea ball (usually 1 teaspoon per cup – and if you are using a pot you add one more for the pot).
  • Let the tea brew/draw for 3-5 minutes (I like my tea fairly weak so I am on the lower end of this time suggestion).
    • If you are using a teapot you usually add a little of the water before it has boiled to the pot, swirl it around in the pot, and let it sit there until you are ready to add the tealeaves and boiling water. This preheats your teapot. Pour this water out (or put it into the cups to preheat them).
    • If you are serving from a teapot and to several guests you don’t fill up each one in turn – you actually add about a ¼ – ½ cup to each and continue until each person’s cup is appropriately filled (leave enough room to add milks if needed). This is done so that each cup is given a share of the weaker and stronger teas (the first pour is usually the weakest/lightest, traditionally the second cup was the best, and the third or more are usually a little stronger/darker)
    • When I was a child in England the milk was added before pouring the tea in (at least in our home). Also the tealeaves were put into the teapot loose so you needed to have a strainer on your cup to catch the tealeaves so they didn’t get into your cup. Loose floating tealeaves allow the leaves to float around and really impart their flavour well and quickly. It makes the best tea.
  • Add milk, dairy-free alternative, lemon, sugar, honey… or nothing.
  • Take a deep sigh, sit back, relax and enjoy!

About White, Green, Oolongs and Matcha Teas

For white teas, it is suggested that the water should only be 70 – 80C, green teas 60 – 90C (depending which green tea you have), and oolongs around 85 – 95C. Matcha (ground whole green tealeaves) is best brewed with water that is around 70C-80C.

So unless you have a thermometer how do you know what the water temperature is? When water first starts to ‘boil’ (first boil) the temperature is about (70C). You can hear the difference and see when the bubbles start to develop and move about on the surface of the water.

One trick that is done in teashops where the water is dispensed from a tap is to add some cold water to the cup/pot to reduce its temperature (one quarter of room temperature volume will bring the temperature down to about 75 – 80C).

For brewing herbal infusions the generally accepted guidelines are:

  • Bring cold water to a boil
  • Pre-warm teapot and/or cup
  • Put herbs into tea ball or tea sock
  • Pour boiling water over your herbs
  • Let the herbs brew/draw for 5 minutes or more
  • Sweetened with honey, sugar or other product if desired

There are some accessories that make brewing tea easier. Check out our Beverage Accessory page where you will find tea balls, strainer, reusable filters, disposable filters, tea/coffee presses, etc.

Tea is big business.

Just seven companies control 85% of tea production through their factories and estates. Smallholder tea growers are likely to receive less than 3 percent of the retail value of tea, and often less than 1 percent.
Portmouth Fair Trade

When we choose Fairtrade we are voting with our money and sending more money to the smallholder producers. When we purchase tisanes produced right here in Alberta from Albertan herbs, we send money directly to the farmer/producer.

Descriptions are provided from our supplier’s websites, catalogues, Internet, or personal experience.

Alfalfa Leaves
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta
During the spring we offer alfalfa fertilizers for people’s garden and the rest of the year we offer alfalfa leaves for people to drink. This is quite a wide spectrum of uses for this plant that is much loved in the Organic/Permaculture world for how it enriches the soil as it grows and dies. People usually infuse it.

Our Alfalfa is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Black Tea, Assam India
Fair Trade, Organic
Assam is a tea growing in Northern India. The tea provides full body and malty flavour to your teacup. Assams are usually one of the base tea leaves for British Isle blends like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast ,Yorkshire Harrogate, etc.

Green Tea, Bancha
Japan, Organic
Bancha is a Japanese green tea type. Bancha is picked after the higher-grade ‘sencha’ leaves are picked. It is considered a lower grade of tea but many people like the green straw like flavour.

Fruit, Bella Coola
Caffeine Free, Herbal
A predominant orange character with the lovely sweetness of pineapple.
Herbal fruit blend of apple, rosehip, orange pieces, hibiscus petals, and natural flavors.

Fruit, Berry Berry
Caffeine Free, Herbal
A full flavored tea with deep berry notes. The infused cup is burgundy red and provides strength and character. A terrific tasting herbal tea.
Ingredients: elderberry, raisin pieces, hibiscus petals and natural flavors.

Black Tea, Chai Spice
Fair Trade, India, Organic, Canadian
To bring out this tea’s rich and spicy flavour, use freshly boiled water and steep (or simmer gently) for 3 to 5 minutes. Chai tea is traditionally served sweet and with milk.
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and organic black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves
Chai Spice contains 60% Fair Trade ingredients by dry weight.

Herbal, Chamomile/Camomile
Caffeine Free, Organic
Chamomile makes a popular herbal tisane. Our chamomile is from Egypt.
It is advised that pregnant or nursing mothers do not consume chamomile tisane.
We have packaged chamomile from Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Green Tea, Chunmee/Chun Mee
China, Organic
Light spring nose, full bodied with notes of toast, sweet plum and moss – stunning. The name of the tea means ‘precious eyebrows’. He tealeaves are hand rolled before lightly pan-fired. This green tea produces a light yellow liquid and is well regarded for it’s smoothness and plum-like sweetness.

Fruit, Cranberry Apple
Caffeine Free, Organic
Full flavored and pungent with a rich fruity character. Lightly sweetened it is a superb tea hot or iced. For a touch of spice, garnish with cinnamon.
Ingredients: hibiscus petals, apple, rosehip pieces, and natural flavors.

Black Tea, Cream Earl Grey
Organic
A remarkably heady Earl Grey tempered with wickedly delicious cream flavour. One cup is not enough! This is one of our most popular teas.
Ingredients: black tea, osmanthus petals, and Natural flavors.

Herbal, Dandelion Roasted
Caffeine Free
Roasted dandelions are a common beverage in many areas of the world. One woman was telling me that in most cafes in Australia you can order this right off the menu.
It is used as a coffee substitute. We also have a package brand of dandelion based coffee substitute.

Herbal, Dandelion
Caffeine Free
Dandelion is used as a coffee substitute as well for some herbal medicine solutions. We also have a package brand of dandelion based coffee substitute.

Black Tea, Earl Grey
Fair Trade, Organic
A traditional blend of black teas from India combined with natural Italian bergamot flavour and other natural flavours.
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and Organic black teas, natural bergamot flavour
This Earl Grey tea contains 99% Fair Trade ingredients by dry weight.

Green Tea, Genmaicha
Japan, Organic
This unusual Japanese tea, is prepared by first steaming the tea leaves, then after drying, they are combined with roasted rice. The result is an amber brew with a toasty and lightly sweet flavour. Genmaicha may be re-infused with hot water for a second or third cup. These second and third pourings are often considered to be the superior cups. Infuse for 3 minutes or more. Serve without milk or sugar.
Ingredients: Organic green tea, Organic roasted rice

Green Tea, Gunpowder
Fair Trade, Organic
Gunpowder green tea gets its unusual name from the way the leaves are rolled into tiny balls that resembles the gunpowder used in old canons. This tea is often combined with mint to make Moroccan Mint tea.

Herbal, Hibiscus/Jamaica
Caffeine Free, Organic
Hibiscus tisane has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Makes a very refreshing iced tea that is very popular in Mxico.

Green Tea, Jasmine
Fair Trade, Organic
A fragrant green tea delicately infused with aromatic jasmine flowers. Brew with below boiling hot water for two to three minutes. Serve unsweetened and without milk. A wonderfully relaxing tea.

Black Tea, Ceylon
Fair Trade, Organic
This orange pekoe classic has a rich golden red hue with superb flavor and body, with or without milk.
Our Ceylon tea is supplied by Small Organic Farmer’s Association (SOFA) in Sri Lanka.

Green Tea
China, Fair Trade, Organic
This green tea is a soothing blend of high quality mountain grown teas. Mellow in flavour, golden in colour. The perfect blend for daily enjoyment.

Fruit, King Tut Lemonade
Caffeine Free, Organic
Organic lemon fit for a Pharaoh. Sun dried, ground lemon peel, amazing brewed 5 minutes and served over ice – no sugar needed. Naturally better!
Ingredients: Ground sun dried lemon.

Herbal, Labrador Wild Crafted
Caffeine Free, Alberta
Our Labrador leaf is wild crafted/gathered by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Lemongrass
Caffeine Free, Organic
Very lemony. Refreshing and cleansing with an extraordinary sweet finish. Excellent!
Ingredients: Lemongrass leaves.
You can also use this in your cooking.

Green Tea, Moroccan Mint
China, Fair Trade, Organic
An ancient and wonderful combination of light tasting green tea from China and the freshest blend of dried spearmint and peppermint leaves. Traditionally served very sweet in small ornate glasses.
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and Organic green tea, Organic mint
Moroccan Mint contains 85% Fair Trade Ingredients by dry weight.

Fruit, Orange Peel
Caffeine Free
Slightly tart with gentle citric notes, very mild character verging on flavor neutral. Add to your herbal blends to add an orange flavour.
Ingredients: Air dried orange pieces

Herbal, Yellow Dock Root – Patience
Caffeine Free, Organic, Canada
Our Yellow Dock is supplier to us by Clef de Champs in Quebec.

Herbal, Peppermint
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta
Peppermint tea is commonly called ‘mint tea’.
Our peppermint is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Black Tea, Raspberry Delight
Fair Trade, Organic
This wonderfully aromatic tea is a delicious blend of the finest black teas, and the finest natural raspberry flavour. Steep 2 to 3 minutes only. Serve without milk but lightly sweetened to enhance the natural berry taste. Makes an excellent iced tea.
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and Organic black tea, Organic hibiscus, Organic raspberry, natural raspberry flavour
Raspberry Delight contains 91% Fair Trade Ingredients by dry weight.

Herbal, Red Clover
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta
Red clover tisane is commonly consumed by women trying to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Our red clover is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Rooibos Pure
Fair Trade, Caffeine Free, Organic
This great tasting herbal tea is full bodied, aromatic and slightly sweet. Rooibos is grown only in South Africa and it is naturally caffeine free. Recent studies have shown Rooibos to be rich in anti-oxidants and flavinoids. Steep 5 to 10 minutes in very hot water, sweeten to taste. May be served with or without milk, even makes a great tasting latte!
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and Organic Rooibos
Pure Rooibos contains 100% Fair Trade Ingredients by dry weight.

Herbal, Rooibos Blueberry
Caffeine Free, Organic

Herbal, Rooibos Chai
Caffeine Free, Organic
A great tasting herbal tea, that is naturally caffeine free. Recent studies have shown that Rooibos is rich in anti-oxidants and flavinoids. Steep Rooibos Chai 5 to 10 minutes in very hot water, sweeten to taste. May be served with or without milk, makes a great tasting latte!
Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified and Organic rooibos, Organic cinnamon, Organic ginger, Organic cardamon, Organic cloves
Rooibos Chai contains 65% Fair Trade Ingredients by dry weight.

Herbal, Rooibos Maple
Caffeine Free, Organic
Maple Rooibos is a great tasting herbal tea that is naturally caffeine free. Recent studies have shown that Rooibos is rich in anti-oxidants and flavinoids. Steep Maple Rooibos for 3 to 5 minutes. Sweeten to bring out all of the natural maple flavour taste. May be served with or without milk, makes a great latte!
Ingredients: Organic Rooibos, natural flavours
Rooibos Maple contains 98% Fair Trade ingredients by dry weight.

Herbal, Rooibos Peach
Caffeine Free, Organic
Sweet and sultry peach notes accentuate fruity rooibos – a medley that lifts you to peach heaven.
Ingredients: Rooibos, Calendula petals, Blackberry leaves, Natural flavors.

Herbal, Rooibos Raspberry
Caffeine Free, Organic
The company that blends this calls it “A Raspberry in Paris”.
Spritely notes of raspberry come to the fore above mellow rooibos character. Perfect raspberry jam finish.
Ingredients: Rooibos (South Africa), raspberry pieces, and natural flavours

Herbal, Rooibos Provence
Caffeine Free, Organic
Flavoury with a floral and fruity bouquet; perfumy lavender notes. Inspired by the ‘joie de vivre’ of France.
Ingredients: Rooibos (South Africa), elderberries, rosehip pieces, billberries, lavender blossoms, rose flowers, and natural flavours.

Herbal, Rooibos Vanilla
Fair Trade, Caffeine Free, Organic
Vanilla Rooibos is a great tasting herbal tea that is naturally caffeine free. Recent studies have shown that Rooibos is rich in anti-oxidants and flavinoids, Steep Vanilla Rooibos for 3 to 5 minutes. Sweeten to bring out all of the natural vanilla flavour taste. May be served with or without milk, makes a great latte!
Ingredients: Rooibos Organic, natural vanilla flavour, natural flavours
Vanilla Rooibos contains 99% Fair Trad Ingredients by dry weight.

Black Tea, Seeyok Darjeeling
Fair Trade, Organic
This high quality Fair Trade Darjeeling is grown at the Seeyok Tea Estate located in the Mirik Valley of Darjeeling approximately 80km from Bagdogra, near the Nepalese border. This wonderful tea has a very fresh flavour and an exceptional balance much appreciated by those who love Darjeeling teas Steep three to five minutes.

This Darjeeling produces a well-balanced cup, which is quite aromatic and has a lingering aftertaste. Darjeeling teas produce a lighter pale gold liquid than Assams and considered a ‘finer’ flavour – as in a finer more delicate flavour.

Herbal, Spearmint
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta
Spearmint is a plant that has been used as a herbal infusion throughout history. In the Southern USA mint julep is very popular in the summertime, the lately popular mojito also uses spearmint in its preparation, as well as a herbal remedy for stomach aches.
Our spearmint is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Stinging Nettle
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta
Stinging nettles have a long history of being consumed by humans – as a herbal infusion and as a steamed vegetable (like spinach). Our stinging nettle is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Valerian
Caffeine Free, Organic, Alberta,
Valerian is used as a sedative tisane. It is seen as an effective herbal treatment for insomnia.
Our valerian is grown by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Raspberry Leaf
Caffeine Free, Wild Crafted, Alberta
Wild raspberry leaves are used as a tisane.
Our Wild Raspberry leaves are wild crafted/gathered by Chickadee Farm Herbs located 160km north of Edmonton.

Herbal, Yerba Mate (Brand: Guayaki)
Organic
Yerba mate is the leaf from a bush/tree indigenous to the southern area of South America (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil and Chile).
We also offer other Guayaki yerba mate products like their ready to drink beverages.

Black Tea, Yorkshire Harrogate
NOT Organic
Few teas have such rich fullness and flavour. A lightly astringent cup becomes golden bright with milk. Befits a Yorkshireman or Yorkshirewoman!

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