The Tea Blog – News & Notes from The Republic of Tea

Green Tea 24/7!

matcha products In Japan, the flavor of green tea is as prevalent as vanilla in the United States. Green tea or matcha flavor is in EVERYTHING, from donuts to noodles and everything in between. Our group of tea lovers has excitedly tried a number of new treats on our five-day tea journey of Japan and haven’t been disappointed yet.

Green tea’s popularity is not surprising given Japan’s intertwined relationship between tea and culture. Nearly every historical place we’ve visited includes tea as part of its rich history. We learned how Buddhist monks began incorporating tea into their daily life to keep them focused throughout their prayers way back in the 9th century. We learned how samurai warriors would drink tea before battle. And we learned how a geisha’s evening of entertainment, even today, begins with a tea ceremony. Tea touches just about every cultural aspect of Japanese life, and has for many centuries. And with Japan’s fondness for culinary innovations, it’s no surprise that green tea has made its way into so many snacks, treats and dishes.

matcha dinnerGreen tea is a vital part of today’s food scene in Japan. Every meal we’ve had has included tea, primarily at the end. For one lunch, we all had hot noodle dishes, so the chef made sure we were served iced green tea at the end to balance the meal’s temperatures. At others, we were served more roasted genmaicha style green teas that paired well with the various foods. You may have to ask for a glass of water with your meal, but green tea will always be included.

Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge, Tea Travels

7 Facts You Didn’t Know About Matcha

matcha powderIn honor of matcha’s rich history and legacy in Japanese culture, we offer today’s blog topic: 7 Facts You Didn’t Know About Matcha

  1. Matcha has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all known “super foods.” With an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of 1384 TE/G, a single cup has more than 5x the antioxidants of blueberries.blueberries
  2. To produce matcha, the tea bushes are covered with shades of cloth at least 20 days prior to harvest. This shades the plants from direct sunlight, increasing the levels of chlorophyll and enhancing the production of L-Theanine.
  3. Matcha creates a calm alertness thanks to L-Theanine.
  4. Samurai used to drink Matcha tea before going into battle due to its energizing properties.
  5. The Japanese have been drinking Matcha for more than 800 years.
  6. Matcha is the traditional tea served in Japanese tea ceremonies.
  7. Matcha is an ingredient in many mainstream Japanese foods, including Kit Kat Bars and Pocky.IMG_8706
Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge, Tea Travels

All About Matcha

Our second day in Japan was all about matcha. We started out at a premium tea garden that grows its tea specifically with matcha in mind as opposed to just green tea for tea bags or full leaf consumption. The rows of premium tea plants are covered in black fabric, which shades the leaves.

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This is important in creating high quality matcha because it forces the leaves to work extra hard to get sunlight. As a result, the leaves produce more amino acid and chlorophyll, which will give the matcha a smoother taste and “umami” flavor when sipped.

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After visiting a processing plant where the leaves were steamed and dried, we drove to Fukujuen Matcha Center in Uij – the matcha capital of Japan – where we actually had the chance to stone grind our own matcha.

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For 20 minutes, we turned a granite block in a counter-clockwise rotation and watched premium tea leaves emerge as a bright green powder.

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Finally, we scooped this powder into our matcha bowls, added hot water, and whisked vigorously to create a beautiful foam.

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Each sip was smoother than the last, and we all agreed that nothing can quite match a cup of freshly ground matcha.

Posted in New and Fresh

Visiting the Tea Gardens and Processing Facilities of Kyoto

Group1_Day1_2015Each year, The Republic of Tea organizes a trip for a group of Ministers to visit a country of origin. This year, we send you greetings from Japan! This is this first time each of us in our group have visited this incredible country and already in the first 24 hours, we have run our fingers through hillside tea plants, slurped our way through soba noodle dishes and sipped premium green tea plucked just hours before.

IMG_7851After a brief stay last night in Tokyo, we dashed through the rain early this morning to the train station. There, we took the bullet train to historic Kyoto. While we will have time to explore the downtown area more later this week, today was all about tea.

As soon as we arrived at the train station, we were whisked away by bus and taken straight to a very special experience: the tea auction. In one room stood many long tables, each with plates piled high with different Sencha green teas from different tea gardens around the prefecture. Buyers moved quickly from plate to plate, each time with a standard ritual. First, they would scoop up a large handful of the leaves, examine the leaves closely, and then let the leaves fall slowly through their fingers. Next, they would pick up a handful of tea again, and this time bring the leaves so closely to their noses to smell the aromatics that they would have to dust the teas from their faces after each inhale. If the teas were of the aromatic and visual quality they were looking for, they would mark a score on the clipboard they carried. Afterward, the buyers would bring their notes to another part of the room and a bidding process would ensue. Our group even got to do a quick “cupping,” or sampling of six Sencha teas, each grown on a different garden and plucked just yesterday. We were surprised to discover how the appearance and taste varied so widely, even though all were premium green tea that had been through roughly the same process. So many factors can affect how the final tea tastes, from the weather to how much moisture was on the leaves when they were plucked, so the cupping was an enlightening experience for us all.

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Next, our bus began its climb through the winding, one-lane mountainous roads toward the southeastern region of the Kyoto prefecture. There, we visited two premium tea processing facilities to learn more about how premium tea goes from being a freshly plucked leaf to the final dried leaf that you would find in The Republic of Tea’s premium green tea or matcha collections.

The rain storm we had first encountered this morning had subsided, which was very good news. Premium tea cannot be plucked if it’s raining because it creates too high of moisture content in the leaves. Luckily for us, a decent amount of tea had been picked while we were on the train so we were able to see it go through the processing stages this afternoon.

IMG_8174_2First, the premium tea leaves are allowed to wither briefly, which reduces their moisture levels.

Next, the leaves get steamed. This step is unique to premium Japanese green tea. The leaves fly into the air and dance their way back down to a conveyer belt. The steam brings out the chlorophyll and ensures the leaves retain a bright green color.

Then, they are dried at a very hot temperature to eliminate moisture from the leaves.

Once dry, the stems are separated from the leaves.

Next, the process diverts in one of two ways. If the leaves are destined for matcha, they are ground into a fine powder.  However, if the leaves are meant for Sencha green tea, then they are rolled into a tightly wound, twig-like form.

Finally, they are dropped into large sacks and packaged for market.

 

IMG_8321_2The last stop on today’s journey was the pinnacle of our premium tea pilgrimage. After hiking up a hillside, we reached a small organic premium tea garden, which had pristine tea leaves that were very close to reaching their plucking point. This is one of the higher elevation tea gardens in Japan, meaning it takes longer for the teas to reach harvest time. Most Japanese tea gardens have their “first flush,” or first picking, in late April. But due to the high altitude, this garden will not be plucked until late May. We loved seeing all the different types of bugs hanging out on tea leaves and around the base of the plants, indicating a biodiversity balance and high quality level.

After such an incredible day one, we have more exploration to come this week! We will keep you posted on every step of our educational journey here. Talk to you soon!

 

Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge, Tea Travels

Chamomile: Not Just an Aid for Sleep Disorders

chamomile tea health benefitsComing from the dried and ground daisy-like flower of the chamomile plant, chamomile tea is best known for its calming characteristics and is commonly used as an aid for those suffering from sleep disorders.  Did you know that chamomile tea also offers a variety of health benefits?  A 2010 report by doctors and researchers, including well-known Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D. “Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past with Bright Future,” highlights the many effects of chamomile as a medicinal agent [1].  Here is a look at just a few:

Anti-Inflammatory Agent
The essential oils of chamomile flowers contain the active ingredient chamazulene.  The study reported that when used topically, chamomile penetrates the skin and assists with easing the symptoms of a number of skin problems, including eczema and hemorrhoids [1].  Internally, chamomile tea is thought to be useful in calming and soothing an upset stomach.

Anxiety
The study, published in Molecular Medicine Reports, showed chamomile to have positive effects in patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Chamomile was shown to have significant effects on the inhibition of GAD activity and may perform as anxiolytic agent to help lower stress levels [1].  Blended with passionflower and eleuthero root along with chamomile, we offer get relaxed® – No.14 Tea for Relieving Stress to help mellow your mood.

Diabetes
The report, “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future,” states that in combination with a healthy diet, use of chamomile demonstrates a boost in pancreatic activity and aids in suppressing blood sugar levels [1].

Health Promotion
In the patients studied for the report, it was found that consuming a large amount of chamomile tea was shown to increase antibacterial activity [1].  Combined with an active, healthy lifestyle chamomile is thought to help promote overall health.

Osteoporosis and Bone Health
The study conducted by Sanjay Gupta, M.D., and other researchers concluded that along with exercise, chamomile extract may exhibit an effect of slowing the speed in which patients experience loss of bone mass.  This suggests that chamomile may be beneficial to overall bone health [1].

Sleep Aid
Perhaps most commonly used as a sleep aid for those suffering with sleep disorders, chamomile has been used for its calming effects for generations.  Used as a tea, the flavonoids contained in chamomile may help induce sleep and relaxation.  Teas such as Chamomile Lemon Herb and get some zzz’s™ – No. 5 Herb Tea for Rest are specially formulated with chamomile and other soothing ingredients to help you get the restful sleep you need.

All teas boast a wide variety of health benefits and this is especially the case with chamomile.  If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from sleep disorders, relaxing with a cup of chamomile will help bring you tranquility and may contribute to your overall health.

How to Steep Chamomile Tea:
1) Heat fresh water to a rapid boil.
2) Pour steaming hot water over tea bag or infuser if using full-leaf loose tea.
3) Time your steeping.  Chamomile requires five to seven minutes to infuse properly.
4) Remove and discard tea.  While sipping, be sure to take time to pause and inhale the aromas; chamomile used in aromatherapy is known to be relaxing and to aid those with sleep disorders.

  1. Srivastava, Janmejai K, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past with Bright Future.” Molecular medicine reports 3.6 (2010): 895–901. PMC. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge

How to Use a Tea Infuser

tea infuserRecently, the practice of preparing tea with full-leaf loose tea leaves is on the rise amongst tea enthusiasts.  With its versatility, complex flavors, and charming steeping rituals, it is easy to see why.  When steeping with full-leaf loose teas, you will need a handy tea infuser to get you started.  If you have never steeped a cup of tea using an infuser, we offer this brief tutorial to help you begin.

What is a Tea Infuser?
A tea infuser is a tool that allows you to steep full-leaf loose tea leaves instead of using the tea bags with which many of us are familiar.  It holds full-leaf loose tea leaves together, often in a mesh ball or basket, and keeps leaves from floating freely through your beverage.  Tea infusers allow premium tea leaves to unfurl and expand, rewarding you with their full flavor potential.  Tea infusers come in different styles and sizes and are a fun, but simple tool to steep the perfect cup of tea.

The Matter of Time and Measurement
Steeping with full-leaf loose tea requires one teaspoon of leaves per 6 ounces of water.  Measure the proper amount of tea leaves into your infuser.  Place the infuser into a tea cup or teapot and pour hot water per serving over top.  Once water is poured, time your steeping as follows:

Full-Leaf Loose White: 2-3 minutes
Full-Leaf Loose Green: 2-4 minutes
Full-Leaf Loose Black: 3-5 minutes
Full-Leaf Loose Oolong: 5-7 minutes
Full-Leaf Loose Red/Herb: 5-7 minutes

After the tea has finished steeping, remove the infuser and allow it to cool before taking your first sip.  Many varieties of full-leaf loose teas are great for multiple infusions, so you may enjoy more than once, if desired.

What type of Tea Infuser do you need?
This depends on a couple of factors.  Are you steeping for one, or a group?  Are you looking more for simple function or for crafty design?  Whatever your preference, there is a tea infuser perfectly suited to fit your needs.

  • The People’s Brew Basket® in Stainless Steel and The People’s Brew Basket® in Nylon make steeping a single serving of full-leaf loose tea simple. The ample space in the baskets allows tea leaves to swell to bring out the full taste.  Packaged in gift boxes, these brew baskets would make a stunning gift for a fellow tea enthusiast or a delightful treat for yourself.
  • Our Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Strainer with Handle is convenient for steeping a single cup, as well as multiple servings. Full-leaf loose tea leaves are secure in the basket that is easily placed atop the rim of a tea cup or teapot using the sturdy handle.
  • The Floating Stainless Steel Infuser is constructed specifically to allow premium tea leaves to spread and unfurl their full flavors. Fill the infuser and float in hot water in your tea cup or teapot.  After tea finishes steeping, remove the infuser and place it in the holder to catch any drips, making the process clean and easy.
  • Made in America using wood from ecologically managed forests in Pennsylvania, our charming Wooden Flower Infuser and Wooden Leaf Infusers are an environmentally sustainable and stylish way to steep a single cuppa. Add the full-leaf loose tea of your choice to the center basket, and balance the on the rim of your tea cup for easy steeping.
  • Crafted with stainless steel mesh, the Little Dipper Infuser is perfect for steeping a single cup of tea. Using the convenient handle, place the infuser filled with the tea of your choice into your tea cup with the handle up, and top with boiling water.  Once the tea has finished steeping, remove the infuser before you begin to sip.

If you have never experienced the joy of steeping with full-leaf loose teas, we encourage you to get ahold of one of our handy tea infusers and see for yourself what makes it such a unique treat.  We think you will agree that premium full-leaf loose teas steeped using high-quality tea infusers is a simple way to enjoy all of the complex flavors that tea has to offer, sip by sip.

Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge

Top Tea Brewing Methods: Instructions for the Ideal Cup of Tea

tea-brewing-instructionsWhether you have been enjoying tea for years, or have only recently been acquainted with all tea has to offer, you may be wondering: What is the best technique for steeping tea? The truth is, there is no one correct approach. It all depends on the type of tea you will be preparing, the number of people you will be serving, and your own personal preferences. In a previous post, we shared the intricacies of steeping premium Black, Oolong, Green, Herbal teas and more. Below we will guide you through a few more helpful tea-brewing methods.

Brewing Techniques for Every VarieTEA

We are very fortunate to live in a world with so many varieties of tea available! Just as each type of tea comes with its own unique characteristics of flavor, body and taste, each variety also comes with a unique set of brewing instructions. The first step in preparing every type of tea is to heat fresh water. Most types of tea require water to come to a rolling boil and longer steeping times of up to seven minutes. However, for the delicate varieties of 100% white and premium green teas remove the water from the heat source just short of boiling to avoid scalding their fragile leaves. The time for brewing white and green teas is shorter as well, usually just a couple of minutes. Below is a handy tea-steeping chart to make clear the temperature of water needed and steeping times for each variety.

tea steeping chart

Steeping Single Servings

There are a couple of simple methods for brewing a single serving of tea. With the use of single-serve beverage makers becoming popular recently, the One Cuppa™ is an option that is both quick and convenient. Simply select a pod, follow the beverage maker’s instructions, and the machine will do the work for you, easy as that.
Another popular technique of preparing tea is to pour water heated in a stovetop or electric kettle over tea in individual tea cups. This may be done using the convenience of tea bags, or by using full-leaf loose tea placed in an infuser. Whether brewing tea for an individual or multiple sippers, the advantage of this technique is the ability to offer a selection of different types of tea at one time, since each tea cup can hold its own variety. When brewing tea in this fashion, follow the same guidelines posted above.

Preparing the Perfect Pot of Tea

When brewing multiple servings of the same type of tea, the teapot may be the best way to go. If using tea bags, the general rule is one tea bag per serving, plus one for the pot, topped by six ounces of hot water per serving. For full-leaf loose tea, you will need one teaspoon of leaves, plus one for the pot in an infuser or strainer. Using the time table posted above, brew the tea for the proper amount of time, before removing and pouring.

The Final Step

Enjoy sip by sip, rather than gulp by gulp. As our loyal Citizens already know, at The Republic of Tea we believe this is the most important step when it comes to brewing and savoring tea, and we love extending this invitation to the uninitiated as well! Once you have your perfectly brewed tea in hand, remember to take the time to slow down, inhale the aromas and sip slowly, savoring each drop.

If brewing tea is new to you, we are excited to have you join us and we hope this brief instructional has been helpful. We both welcome and invite you to subscribe to our blog for the latest in tea news.

Posted in New and Fresh, Tea Knowledge

Our Citizens’ Favorite VarieTEAs

favorite teasSecond only to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. At The Republic of Tea, we are proud to offer an enormous selection from popular premium teas and unique herbal blends: there is a varieTEA sure to satisfy even the most scrupulous sipper.  Compiled below is a list of some of our citizens’ favorite teas.

Organic Turmeric Ginger Green Tea
                Coming in at number ten, this fragrant and zesty blend combines premium green tea, organic turmeric, and ginger with cinnamon and honey for a treat that delights the taste buds.  Green tea contains antioxidants, you are sure to enjoy the health benefits offered up in every aromatic cup.

Get Burning® – Herb Tea for Metabolism
Is the chilly weather getting you down?  Are you trying to stay true to your New Year’s resolutions to get fit?  This is an herbal infusion geared specifically toward you!  Organic green rooibos pairs with an intriguing blend of medicinal herbs and peppery spices that will warm you from within and help you get that metabolism burning.

Cuppa Chocolate Tea® Assortment
Red Velvet Chocolate, Coconut Cocoa, Strawberry, Peppermint and Banana Chocolate: It all sounds sinfully indulgent, but these five types of tea will leave you full of satisfaction and free of guilt.  No need to choose between these temptations, this assortment offers you just the right amount of each flavor.  It is easy to see why Cuppa Chocolate Caffeine-Free Teas are a favorite among our citizens.

get lost® – No. 6 Herb Tea for Weight Control
Another type of tea to satisfy your sweet tooth, get lost® – No. 6 Herb Tea blends banaba leaf, cinnamon and carob with organic rooibos to help boost metabolism and curb cravings.  Steep a cup to take a step toward a healthier you.

get some zzz’s™ – No. 5 Herb Tea for Rest
Who among us couldn’t stand to get more restful sleep?  This caffeine-free blend is as soothing as it is savory; the mellow ingredients of organic rooibos, spearmint, chamomile, and valerian root will warm your soul and help send you peacefully on your way toward dreamland.  It’s no wonder why get some zzz’s™ is one of our citizens’ favorite types of tea.

Orange Ginger Mint Herbal Tea
Orange Ginger Mint Herbal tea is thought to help calm the digestive system.  Ginger and orange bergamot mint pair up to offer a delightful after-meal beverage.  Whether following a late lunch or a hearty supper, this piquant infusion is caffeine-free and can be enjoyed anytime a sweet sip would hit the spot.

Downton Abbey Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea
Considering how popular the award-winning TV series Downton Abbey has been, it comes as no surprise that that this rich combination of premium black tea with sweet flavors of fruit, caramel and vanilla is a favorite of our citizens.  To add even more drama to your viewing experience, steep a cup of Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea and sip like a Crawley the next time you tune in!

British Breakfast Black Tea
British Breakfast Black Tea is a truly bold blend that offers the perfect pick-me-up for breakfast, or anytime a little extra boost is needed.  Sip like the Brits with a bit of sweetener and a touch of milk in your cuppa, or drink it straight, this classic blend is invigorating whichever way you choose to enjoy it.

Earl Greyer Black Tea
Named after Britain’s Earl Charles Grey, who was known for his discriminating taste and simple sophistication, it’s no wonder this tea is also favored by our discerning citizens.  This exceptional infusion pairs Ceylon black tea with aromatic Bergamot orange oil and is recognized as the best tasting Earl Grey available.

Ginger Peach Black Tea
Finally, Ginger Peach Black Tea: favorite of our fans and the best-selling type of tea at The Republic of Tea. This lightly sweet tea pairs with zesty ginger, sweet peach flavor and premium black tea leaves to bring you a beverage that is crisp and refreshing.  Enjoy hot, or serve over ice for an even more exhilarating sipping experience.

The Republic of Tea offers all these and dozens more varieties to choose from.  What is your favorite type?  Chime in with a comment on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to let us know your favorite.  We look forward to hearing your responses!

Posted in New and Fresh

World Water Day

This year’s theme for World Water Day is sustainability (or as we say at The Republic of Tea, sustainabiliTEA). This theme really resonates with us as a tea company for numerous reasons, but mainly because tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. On any given day, over 158 million Americans drink tea so we can’t even imagine how many people in India are sipping masala chai right now or how many South Africans are steeping rooibos bush tea this second. As a result, water sustainabiliTEA is becoming more of a focus due to scarcity — globally nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, resulting in millions of deaths that are 100% preventable.

We are committed to sustainabiliTEA at every level of our business, and it all starts with where we source our tea. We work with several incredible organizations that foster sustainable livelihoods for people who live in our tea growing regions; and for us, these partnerships have proved the most rewarding. In particular, we source our hibiscus flowers for our Superflower® Teas from Nigeria, where Action Against Hunger has helped more than 247,000 people get access to safe water and sanitation, as well as nutritional support.  And Nigeria is just one of the 45 countries where Action Against Hunger works to provide sustainable, long-term solutions to clean water and hunger.

For example, when Action Against Hunger installs a borehole or a well, they don’t simply install it and then leave. They create and train a community water committee, whose members are responsible for the proper usage and maintenance of water points and for collecting small maintenance fees from community users to create a sense of ownership and engagement. They also train community members on how to maintain and repair these water points, which allows these villages to be completely self-sufficient for years to come.

While our missions are different, The Republic of Tea and Action Against Hunger have so much in common in terms of sustainabiliTEA and the vital importance of accessible clean water. So this World Water Day, and every day, we work together for sustainabiliTEA and the hope for a better world.

Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp.

Posted in New and Fresh

Top Five Health Benefits of Favorite Herbal Teas

herbalThere is nothing more soothing during these cold weather months than getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of herbal tea.  Although not technically tea since it is not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, teas comprised of high-quality premium herbs have been known for centuries, like all other varieties of tea, to offer up a wide range of health benefits.  In addition to being caffeine-free and incredibly hydrating, below is a list of herbal teas and their health benefits from which we think you will take comfort in learning:

  1. Digestive Aid: The root of everyone’s favorite wildflower, the dandelion, is host to many healing properties and has long been believed to help aid in digestion and to ease bloating.  Paired with vanilla, Dandelion SuperHerb® Tea is certified organic and boasts deep flavors and pleasing aromas.
  2. Feeling Sick?:  Not only are herbal teas like Organic Elderberry Red Tea and those containing peppermint known to help ease the symptoms of common ailments, such as sore throat, congestion and nausea it also delivers a sense of calm and overall well-being.
  3. Help with InsomniaBiodynamic® Organic Heirloom Chamomile Tea is most commonly known for its ability to act as a gentle sedative that many who suffer from insomnia have found helpful to bring relaxation and sleep.  Additionally, it is thought to assist in soothing upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting,
  4. Lowered Blood Pressure:  The effects of many teas and their effect on blood pressure have been studied in recent years.  The exotic Hibiscus Superflower® Tea in particular is thought of as a possible agent to assist in lowering blood pressure.  Available in tea bags or full-leaf loose, this charming tea offers a unique floral flavor and can be served hot or chilled.
  5. Anti-aging: The base for our popular Be Well red tea collection of teas, Rooibos or Red Tea, contains antioxidants called polyphenols and flavonoids.  These antioxidants have been given credit for helping with aging.  Rosy-red in color, and with a slightly sweet flavor, Rooibos red teas are quickly gaining popularity with those looking for a tea that packs a mellow, healthy punch.

Steps for Steeping the Perfect Cup:

  1. Heat fresh, filtered water until it comes to a rolling boil.
  2. Pour steaming water over herbal tea bags, or an infuser if using full-leaf loose herbs.
  3. Herbal teas are very hearty!  Steep for a full five to seven minutes to draw out full flavor and health-boosting potential.

When you sip premium herbal tea loaded with health benefits, you can savor not only in the wide variety of flavors and blends available, you can also find peace of mind knowing that you are benefiting your health as well.  All the more reason to steep a cup, relax and enjoy often.

Posted in New and Fresh