Get seriously into tea: The ultimate tea guide 2021
There is so much rich history, cultural traditions, and benefits of drinking tea that we want to tell you all about! There is an unending amount of information about tea, but we’ve narrowed it down for you!
There’s nothing like curling up into your blanket with a great book and a steamy mug of tea. Here at Moola, we love tea. Inside this tea guide article, you’ll discover:
Where tea originates from
The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew and drank some. The rest is history!
The benefits of drinking tea
Besides your parents telling you that tea is good for you, according to Harvard Medical School, and many other medical institutions, tea contains substances linked to a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The main health-promoting substances in tea are polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins (we know, big words!). Studies say these molecules have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Harvard-led studies of large groups of people over time have found that tea drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why you should drink tea
Regardless of whether you choose to sip nothing but “true” teas or you’re an herbal fan at heart, the world of tea offers something for every taste bud and caffeine preference. What’s more, both “true” and herbal teas may offer a variety of health benefits.
While this list represents many of the most popular types of tea, there are also plenty of other herbal options to choose from. Use this list as a starting point for exploring the delectable world of tea, and then let your taste buds be your guide.
Whatever your preference you go with, you can’t go wrong with a good cup of tea!
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Tea traditions around the world
A common tea ritual practiced in Chinese culture is the Chinese Tea Ceremony. This ceremony occurs when two people join together in union for marriage.
The Chinese tea ceremony is conducted on the day of the wedding. The bride and groom serve tea to their parents, in-laws, and other elderly family members (like their grandparents or aunts and uncles). This act symbolizes the union of their two families and is considered a meaningful and important part of the day. The couple would be dressed in traditional garments and will kneel before their elders and serve them tea.
Drinking that tea symbolizes the parents not only recognizing but also accepting the bride or groom as part of the family.
Tea Tip: In traditional Chinese culture, serving tea to a guest is a sign of respect. So if you’re a younger person, you can show respect and gratitude to your elders by offering a cup of tea.
Masala Chai (or simply referred to as “Chai”) has been a tradition throughout India for centuries.
Chai is an integral part of everyday life and is a special greeting offered to all guests visiting Indian homes. Guests are treated as “emissaries of God,” and they always receive a cup of chai upon arrival. “Chai” literally means “tea” in Hindi which further originates from “cha,” the Chinese word for “tea.”
Today, India produces and consumes more tea than any other country in the world. Chai wallahs make and serve chai every hour, day and night. They prepare their chai fresh every day, using tea, ginger root, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and many other spices depending on the region and every one of them has its secret recipe passed from generation to generation.
Tea Guide Tip: Try and add some honey to your chai tea instead of other traditional sugar sweeteners. Without a bit of sweetener, the spices fade into the tea and actually make for a slightly disappointing cup. Honey elevates the flavors but also adds a bit of its own unique taste.
The Japanese tea ceremony is a traditional ritual in which powdered green tea, called matcha, is ceremonially prepared by a skilled practitioner and served to a small group of guests in a peaceful setting.
It is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking green tea typically in a traditional tearoom with tatami floor. Beyond just serving and receiving tea, one of the main purposes of the tea ceremony is for the guests to enjoy the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere distinct from the fast pace of everyday life.
Tea ceremonies of varying degrees of formality and authenticity are offered by many organizations across Japan, including at some traditional gardens, culture centers, and hotels. Kyoto and Uji are among the best destinations in the country to enjoy Japan’s tea culture.
A full, formal tea ceremony is a multi-hour event that starts with a kaiseki course meal, is followed by a bowl of thick tea, and ends with a bowl of thin tea. However, most tea ceremonies these days are abbreviated events that are limited to the enjoyment of a bowl of thin tea.
Tea Guide Tip: If you plan on traveling to Japan and exploring the tea culture, it is recommended to avoid gaudy fashion and fragrance that distracts from the tea experience. Wear modest clothes, remove jewelry that may damage the tea equipment, and avoid strong perfumes.
Moroccans are famous for their hospitality, and it is Moroccan etiquette to offer tea to any visitors that might stop by. Mint tea, made by steeping green tea with mint leaves is a very popular Moroccan drink. It is served several times throughout the day and night. Although the tea is usually prepared with a generous amount of spearmint leaves, other herbs may be used.
During a Moroccan tea ceremony, the host or hostess sits before a tray holding decorated glasses and two teapots. Fresh mint leaves (or other herbs), dried green tea leaves, sugar, and boiling water should be nearby. The host begins by rinsing the teapots with boiling water, then adding the tea leaves to each pot, rinsing the leaves with a little boiling water. The water is then discarded.
Sugar is added to the pots and the host fills them with new boiling water. The tea steeps for several minutes before being stirred, and then the host fills the tea glasses halfway while pouring simultaneously from both pots. The pouring is usually done from a height of twelve inches or more.
While the guests drink their first glass of tea, which is quite strong, the host will replenish the pots with more tea leaves and sugar. Large handfuls of fresh mint will also be added, and then the host again fills the pots with boiling water. This cycle repeats for as long as the guests stay.
Tea Guide Tip: If you ever find yourself in Morocco, expect to be offered a glass of mint tea upon arrival at someone’s home, in the souks when negotiating a sale, and even following a hammam (spa). When serving the tea, the first glass is typically poured three times to ensure the tea is perfectly blended and sweetened. The oldest person in the room is always served first.
The British Isles
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter, and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit and she began inviting friends to join her.
This daily act from Anna slowly became a fashionable social event. During the 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves, and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing-room between four and five o’clock.
Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including of course thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream, and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver teapots into delicate bone china cups.
Tea Guide Tip: To experience the best of the afternoon tea tradition, we recommend you indulge yourself with a trip to one of London’s finest hotels or visit a quaint tearoom in the west country.
Tea guide: the many different kinds of tea
Black tea, or red tea in China, is one of the most popular tea flavors and is fully oxidized.
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are withered, rolled, oxidized/fermented, and dried or fired to produce a strong, full-bodied flavor.
Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Sri Lanka are a few well-known black tea-producing regions, and the flavor will vary based on the region and type of black tea.
Flavour Profile of Black Tea: dark, malty, full-bodied, strong
Popular Varieties of Black Tea: Earl Grey and English Breakfast
Green tea is the most popular tea globally, is unoxidized, and has less caffeine than black tea.
Camellia sinensis leaves are picked, dried, and heat-treated to prevent oxidation. Chinese people often pan-fire the leaves, which creates a duller green color. While Japanese people will typically steam them and achieve a brighter green shade.
Flavour Profile of Green Tea: grassy, earthy, bright, blending vegetal, sweet, and lemony taste
Popular Varieties of Green Tea: Matcha, Sencha, Genmaicha, and Gunpowder tea
Matcha and green tea are derived from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. However, they are each prepared differently.
While green tea leaves usually come in the form of a teabag, matcha is in powder form. Matcha is actually 100% green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder.
Matcha has a much richer, more buttery, and earthy flavor. If you want all of the tea benefits, matcha is the way to go as you’re consuming the entire plant.
Oolong tea — also known as Wulong tea or black dragon tea — is a mildly oxidized tea. It is considered a middle ground between green tea and black tea.
Oolong tea is also often considered similar in flavor and aroma to pu-erh teas. One of the four true tea types, oolong tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The difference among the true teas arises during the production process.
Flavour Profile of Oolong Tea: Oolong tea vary wildly in flavour thanks to their wide range of oxidation levels. Oolong tea can be sweet and fruity or woodsy and rich. The aroma of lighter oolong teas contains hints of honey while other bolder aromas are roasted and complex.
Popular Varieties of Oolong Tea: Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Dan Cong (Phoenix Tea)
Rooibos tea (pronounced ROY-boss) is less well known than its tea cousins, but it has excellent health benefits and a delicate flavor that is sweet and aromatic.
Rooibos tea contains antioxidants, enzymes, and chemical compounds that help skin look youthful, reduce inflammation that causes pain, and prevent serious illness.
For all intents and purposes, red tea in the Western world refers to rooibos tea. Rooibos tea does not contain any leaves from the Camellia sinensis tea plant so it is not a true tea.
Flavour Profile of Rooibos Tea: sweet, smooth, earthy
Popular Varieties of Rooibos Tea: red rooibos and green rooibos
Made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant in only the Fujian province, white tea varieties are the least processed of all teas.
The leaves are simply left to wither and dry on their own, which gives them a very delicate, naturally sweet, and well-rounded flavor. It has very little caffeine.
Flavour Profile of White Tea: floral, delicate, fruity
Popular Varieties of White Tea: White Peony (Bai Mudan) and Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen)
Herbal tea doesn’t come from tea leaves like other varieties. It’s made from dried herbs, fruits, and flowers, which can create a wide range of delicate flavors.
Herbal teas are caffeine-free, making them ideal for those that would like a calming drink, or for those with dietary restrictions. Common ingredients for herbal infusions include chamomile, ginger, lemongrass, peppermint, rosehips, hibiscus, and dried fruits.
Flavour Profile of Herbal Tea: delicate, fruity/herbaceous, sweet
Popular Varieties of Herbal Tea: hibiscus, chamomile, and peppermint
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Where to buy the best tea in Canada
Every tea shop specializes in something different, whether it be single estate tea, flavored, herbal, green, black, Pu-erh, matcha, or origin-specific tea. The types of tea available are varied and well-represented on this list.
Where to buy specialty teas in Canada
You can buy all types of tea at DAVIDs TEA. They have so many unique tea flavors to choose from. You can buy teas for yourself, gift teas in their beautifully packaged aqua blue boxes, and even buy teaware. The options are literally endless!
The Granville Island Tea Company was established in 1999 and is located in Granville Island in downtown Vancouver. They specialize in selling bulk loose leaf tea online and in their quaint shop in the Granville Island marketplace. They sell any and all types of tea that you’re looking for and they source their products from all over the globe. All orders over $49 ship with no charge, this offer is restricted to Canada and the U.S.
Tea Guide Tip: If you ever have the chance to go to their physical store, you can grab a hot cup of tea to-go. They have a mini tea bar on the side!
Believe it or not, you can purchase flavourful teas on Indigo, and also purchase a tea set or a fun mug all in one order! They carry the teas you see on social media (like Blume), as well as organic teas. They’re a one-stop shop for all your tea needs.
The same goes for Legends Haul, add a box of tea to your grocery order. You’d be killing two birds with one stone!
Since 1894, Murchie’s has been importing and blending the finest quality teas from select gardens around the world. As the decades have passed, the art of tea blending and tradition of excellence are handed down along with the old recipes. Today, Murchie’s offers traditional products and classic blends while also developing new combinations for a new generation of tea drinkers.
They operate 9 retail stores within Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria, plus a mail-order division and a growing online store servicing customers all over the world.
Fun Fact: Murchie’s also sell coffee! If you like both tea and coffee, this is the place to go!
You can find your everyday essentials at SPUD.ca, including any and all types of tea that your heart desires. If you love tea just as much as we do, you can also subscribe and save on all your favorite teas to save a little each time you buy.
The Matcha Source specializes in – you guessed it – matcha tea. Everything you need to know, and need to buy that’s matcha-related can be found here! For sipping, blending, and gifting, they’ve got you covered for all your matcha needs.
They ship to all countries across the globe. If your country is not listed in their drop-down at checkout, just reach out to them and they’ll be able to coordinate with you.
Yunnan Sourcing is a top online tea store for Pu Erh tea. They have an excellent selection of ripe and raw Puerh, oolongs tea, black tea, and white tea. They also sell some unusual teas like purple tea and yak butter tea.
Their raw Puerh teas are produced mostly from a single village or mountain source in small batches, so you know your tea will have been freshly harvested when you take a sip.
Vahdam Tea specializes in garden-fresh Indian teas. Vahdam is another one of my favorite places to buy tea online. All their teas are procured directly from plantations and tea growers within 24-48 hours of production, packaged garden fresh, and shipped directly from India’s source.
By eliminating all middlemen, they make available fresh, high-quality teas. This makes sure that the growers can retain all earnings in the region where these divine teas are grown. This process helps every farmer get a better price for their produce—a truly ethical, fair-trade tea shop to buy tea online.