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Brewing Tea

by Bea Kunz of Sage Hill Farms
(Used by permission.)

One essential of brewing the perfect cup or pot of tea is to never over infuse.

Black Tea:  Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat source, add tea, cover and steep for required time.  (Five to seven minutes is good for most black tea.)

For a stronger tea, add more leaves instead of brewing for a longer amount of time.  

At the end of the infusion time, remove the tea leaves to avoid a bitter taste.

Always use loose leaf for a better quality; bags are usually of a lesser quality of leaf.

Always use fresh water; do not use distilled water for making tea; it is flat and the oxygen has been depleted.

Green Tea:  Green teas are not fermented during the processing, allowing the leaves to retain their natural color.

When making Green tea, you should bring the water almost to a boil, but not completely.

Remove from heat, let stand about two minutes then add tea leaf. Cover and steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

White Tea:   White Teas are minimally processed.  It is generally only air dried and slightly oxidized.

The highest quality white teas are picked just before the buds are open, while they are still covered with silky white hairs.  Hence the name...

White teas should be steeped well below the boiling point for 4 to 5 minutes.

Herbal Tisanes:  Herbal Tisanes do not have black, green, or white tea leaf.  If the two are mixed they become a blend.

The English word "tisane" comes from the Greek word ptisane, a drink made from pearl barley.  Tisanes can be made from dried flowers, leaves, seeds, or roots.

Interesting Tea Facts

All teas originate from one bush, the Camellia sinensis. The difference in tea leaf comes about by the different methods of processing.

Tea is a natural source of amino acids.

Want your tea with less caffeine?

Caffeine is highly water soluble, so it is the first constituent of the leaf to be extracted in the steeping process.  80% or more of the tea's caffeine content is released within the first 20 to 30 seconds of steeping.  Simply discard the first steeping after 30 to 60 seconds and add fresh water and steep again.

Tea was valued for its medicinal qualities long before it became a drink of pleasure.

A few tea tips: 

Tea hastens the discharge of nicotine from the body.

Hibiscus tea was favored by the Pharaohs of the ancient Nile Valley. It is known for its health properties.  (Lowering blood pressure, cools the body of fever, and it contains no caffeine.)

Always store tea in glass, ceramic or paper containers, never plastic.

Tea Facts Worth Knowing

Infusion: Tea made from leaves, flowers and light material. Put 1-2 teaspoons of herbal tea material into a brewing utensil of your choice and place in a 6-8 oz size cup. Add lightly boiled water and allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes. For a more "medicinal" effect steep 15-30 minutes. Will keep refrigerated for 24 hours

Decoction: Tea made from bark, roots, seeds, twigs and berries. Put 1-3 tablespoons of cut herb, seed, root, bark, etc into a pot of 16-32 oz of water and allow to sit in non-boiled water for at least 5-10 minutes. Set on stove and bring to a slow boil then turn down to a simmer for 10-30 minutes. Strain and drink. Will keep about 72 hours if kept refrigerated.

Much of the research on green tea has focused on its polyphenol content. Many different kinds of polyphenols are found in green tea, and these polyphenols will become increasingly present in the tea water the longer a tea is steeped. (This principle holds true for green tea, white tea, black tea, and oolong tea.) Catechins, theaflavins, and thearubigins are among the best studied of the green tea polyphenols that are known to increase in the tea water as steeping times increase.

When you brew tea yourself, you can control this steeping process in a way that will maximize the polyphenol content of your tea. When you buy a bottled tea, however, you may or may not get a tea that has been carefully brewed. In addition, you are likely to get a tea that includes other ingredients and is not simply 100% brewed tea.

According to a 2005 study, Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University issued a report showing that many bottled teas contained polyphenol content 10 to 100 times lower than freshly and carefully brewed teas. Differences between bottled tea and freshly brewed tea were attributed to steeping process, amount of actual tea found in the bottled products, and presence of non-tea ingredients in the bottled teas, including sugar. In addition, bottled tea companies were sometimes found to use powdered rather than brewed tea in their products.


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