15 December 2011

How to Make Loose Leaf Tea

Sit back with a cuppa and let's chat about TEA.

Drink Loose Leaf Tea. Trust me. Tea bags, while sufficient and cheap, are the leftovers from REAL tea (aka loose leaf). Kind of like eating the core from an apple and expecting all the nutrients from the skin.

Types of tea I know about-- thanks to Teavana-- are Mate (MAH-tay), Herbal, Rooibos (ROY-bus), White, Green, Oolong, Black.  I've heard about pure jasmine tea, rose petal tea... but I know nothing about these.  While rooibos, herbal, and mate have certain health properties, Teavana refers to these teas as "flavorings" because they do not contain actual tea leaves (and they're cheap so Teavana sales people are always talking up the more expensive types).

I want to highly recommend regularly drinking tea like you drink wine water.  All teas offer overall amazing health benefits while specific types concentrate on helping certain areas of the body.  You'll see.  I lost 15 pounds drinking Monkey Picked Oolong from Teavana (and I'm not the only one).  And if you're stronger than me and can transition your caffeine addiction to tea only... that would be amazing.

IF you don't like tea, then you haven't had it made properly.  Although I'm not a fan of Teavana's sales process, go sample their teas. I triple dog dare you.  Go straight for the iced tea-- mow over the crazy sales associate if you need to-- it'll change your life.  When making tea, always follow the steeping directions. Going over the recommended temp will burn it.  If you want a stronger tasting tea, add more tea leaves, do not steep over the allotted time; and if you want black tea or green tea or oolong at night without the caffeine, just add the water to the tea maker, steep for 30 seconds & drain then steep accordingly.  I know there are all these rules but if a goober like me can get the hang of it, so can you.

Caffeine: 1% of a cup of coffee (less than an M&M and a cup of decaf coffee which has 3%)
Steeps at 175 degrees at 2 minutes plus you can re-steep leaves about 5 to 6 times (get your money's worth baby!)
Health properties: Hydration, Detoxification, and great for your skin
Teavana faves: Silver Needle, Silver Yin Zen Pearls, Strawberry Paraiso (I like picking out the candied papaya pieces) and Precious White Peach

Caffeine: 5-10%
Steeps at 175 degrees for 2 minutes. Pure green teas can be re-steeped a few times but not flavored ones.
Health Properties: Regulates blood sugar, boosts immune system, and contains lots of antioxidants
Teavana Faves: Gyokuro Imperial, Moroccan Mint, Fruita Bomba, and Blackberry Mojito

Caffeine: 10-15%
Steeps at 195 degrees for 3 minutes. Great for re-steeping
Health Properties: Boosts metabolism (weight loss), promotes healthy skin & teeth, and aids in digestion (I love sipping it after a meal).
Teavana Faves: Monkey Picked Oolong, Anjou Pear-adise, and Kamiya Papaya Oolong

Caffeine: 20%
Steeps at 195 degrees for 3 minutes
Health Properties: promotes heart health, boosts energy, and maintains cardiovascular and circulatory systems (think blood :)
Teavana Faves: Nine Dragon Golden Needle, Black Dragon Pearls, and Cacao Mint Black

Caffeine: 100% (wee!)
Steeps at 208 degrees for 6-8 minutes (the longer the better, up to 15 minutes). Not recommended for re-steeping
Health Properties: Curbs appetite, energy (duh), and contains lots of vitamins & minerals
Teavana Faves: Raspberry Riot Lemon, MateVana, and JavaVana (but they have a couple new fruity ones that sound delish)

Caffeine: 0
Steeps at 208 degrees for 6-8 minutes (the longer the better up to 15 minutes). Not recommended for re-steeping
Health Properties: great for colds & allergies (no seriously, love this stuff)
Teavana Faves: Rooibos Tropica, Blueberry Bliss, Cocoa Praline Tart, and Tiramisu Treviso

Caffeine: 0
Steeps at 208 degrees for 6-8 minutes (the longer the better up to 15 minutes). Not recommended for re-steeping
Health Properties: Although Teavana tells their employees that herbals are simply "flavorings," their website lists

  • Delicious source of antioxidants and vitamins
  • Herbal infusions blend well with other teas for added flavor and benefits

Teavana Faves: Wild Orange Blossom, Peach Tranquility (when you smell it, try not to eat it. It's that good.), Azteca Fire, and Sweet Fruit Garden

Finally, the best thing about loose leaf teas is that you can blend flavors (like cocktails!), add rock sugar-- think rock candy, and toss in a bit of cream to make delicious drinks.  Here are a few "Jamie Approved Combos" that I sweeten with a teaspoon of German Rock Sugar...

Silver Needle / Raspberry Riot Lemon Mate (skin and energy)
Rooibos Tropica / Peach Tranquility (my allergy cure)
Monkey Picked Oolong / Silver Yin Zen Pearls (skin and weight loss)
Monkey Picked Oolong / Rooibos Tropica / Peach Tranquility (allergies and digestion)
MateVana / Cocoa Praline Tart / Tiramisu Treviso with a Tbsp of cream (tastes like Heaven)
JavaVana sweetened with cream (coffee cure)
Silver Yin Zen Pearls / Blackberry Mojito sans rum of course (skin and antioxidants)
Nine Dragon Golden Needle / Wild Orange Blossom (my FAVE!)
Cacao Mint Black / JavaVana Mate (mint and coffee yumminess)
Black Dragon Pearls / Raspberry Riot Lemon Mate (kick start your day)
Kamiya Papaya Oolong / Fruita Bomba / Queen of Babylon White
Strawberry Paraiso / Peach Tranquility (tastes like a popsicle)
Earl Grey White, unsweetened and iced. So good.
Youthberry White / Gyokuro (but add the Gyo 20 seconds before the YB is done steeping)

This makes me miss experimenting with tea on Teavana's dime.

And every tea drinker needs awesome accessories.  This is what I use:

Rock Sugar-- brings out the flavor of your tea without changing it. Made from beets so it's all natural and easier for your body to process.  Can use in coffee, baking, anything

Zojirushi Water Heater-- heats water to 140/175/195/208, holds 4L, has a safety lock on the dispenser, can set an alarm for tea in the morning. You can also use this to make anything instant that requires hot water (jello, pudding, bread, ramen)

Perfect Tea Maker-- makes one 16oz mug of tea (there's a larger one as well),  Add the tea, sugar and water, let steep, then place on top of a cup/thermos/mug/glass to release the liquid.

Cherry Bark Tea Canister
(Confession: I don't own this but I want to. All my tea is kept in air tight/light tight Teavana canisters though, to prevent it from getting stale-- it lasts up to a year. If you're going to invest money into tea then you should invest money into keeping it FRESH.  It is a food, after all.

If this is confusing, overwhelming, MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, I recommend going to your nearest tea shop or Teavana and asking for the grand tour.  Collect the info and make educated decisions-- most places will make you a beverage of your choice to try. 

Note: One thing Teavana employees don't like is making tea drinks.  Apparently Teavana Corporate treats beverages as a negative on sales associates' numbers (which is RIDICULOUS), so don't be surprised if an employee is reluctant about making one, overly pushy to get you to just buy the loose leaf tea, or gives you attitude.  They get a lot of pressure from the GM's.

Do you drink tea?  What do you like?  Any questions??  See you tomorrow for Fashionable Friday.


  1. Rooibos tea is perfect alternative for coffee and helpful to lose weight :)

    1. Actually, while all teas exhibit many of the same characteristics including weight loss, Rooibos tea is better suited for allergies and colds as it helps soothe the throat and break up mucous. To maximize weight loss with tea, I recommend Oolong to boost the metabolism, mate to curb the appetite, and white for detoxing and hydrating.

      And rooibos a TERRIBLE alternative to coffee as it has a different flavor (even when made into "red espresso") and a lack of caffeine. In fact, it has ZERO CAFFEINE, so those that drink coffee for the boost are better off with a mate tea.