If you’re ready to venture beyond the generic English Breakfast tea you’ve been buying in bulk, here’s what you need to know. Tea experts advise visiting a tea retailer to sample different teas in person, or, if buying online, get one-ounce samples.
Tea has caffeine in it, but the nature of tea can make it difficult to measure caffeine levels. But even black tea, which has the highest levels of caffeine, still has about half as much as coffee.
In general, tea caffeine ranges from 30 milligrams in an eight-ounce cup of white tea to 90 milligrams in some types of black tea. Coffee has 150 to 200 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
As a rule, plan on 1 teaspoon of tea leaves per four ounces of water.
Types of tea
Black: The leaves are withered, then fully oxidized and dried, with dark colors and robust flavors. Steep with fully boiling water (212 degrees) for three to five minutes.
Green: With a more herbaceous flavor, these leaves are toasted, roasted or steamed, but not oxidized, thereby preserving the green color. Oversteeping can make it bitter, so steep in water that’s 160 to 180 degrees for up to two minutes, tasting every 30 seconds to check the flavor.
White: Young and/or minimally processed tea leaves, with delicate and more floral flavors. Steep in water that’s 175 to 185 degrees, for no more than three minutes.
Oolong: Falling between green and black teas, oolong is partially oxidized and features a wide range of flavors, from fruity to smoky, depending on how long it was oxidized. Steep in water that’s 180 to 190 degrees for one to five minutes.
Pu-erh: Like wine, pu-erh is fermented. The aged green tea has a rich, earthy flavor. Steep for 30 seconds in boiling water, then discard that and add more boiling water, this time steeping for 45 to 50 seconds. The leaves can be reused, but add 15 to 20 seconds for each subsequent steeping.
Tisane: Not a true tea, a tisane is made from herbs, flowers, spices or grains such as chamomile, rooibos, honeybush or peppermint. Steep in boiling water for three to five minutes.
Where to go for tea classes
148 N. 21st St., Purcellville, Va.
Great Falls Tea Garden
Great Falls, Va.
MeiMei Fine Teas
8607 Westwood Center Dr., Vienna