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Whilst we can’t deny that we love our coffee here at Portfolio Coffee, it would be remiss of us to completely ignore the deliciousness and nutritional benefits of tea. 2 billion people around the world can’t be wrong! So we’ve curated some of the best teas around, from robust black teas to delicate white teas. Buy tea online today and let us share our know-how with you!

What is Tea?

Say the word “tea” and you’ll probably conjure up images of a gloriously fun English tea party with the Hatter and March Hare. This deliciously comforting beverage actually originates from East Asia and is the second most consumed beverage in the whole world, second only to water. 

All tea is made by infusing tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant in hot or boiling water, which releases the flavour and the benefits of tea. The Camellia Sinensis plant is an evergreen, sub-tropical plant that typically grows in China, India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. There is even a tea plantation here in Canada!

Six different types of tea can be produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant, depending on how the tea leaves are treated after harvesting. These include black tea, white tea, green tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, and Pu-erh tea. Each of these teas has its own unique tea flavour and aroma. 

But what about herbal tea?! By technical definition, all tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Beverages made by steeping fruit and herbs in water are known as fruit tea or herbal tea, but by strict definition, they should be called “infusions”. But, whatever we call them, they’re still tasty, hydrating beverages! 

How was Tea Discovered?

Legend has it that tea was discovered by Emperor Shennong in China around 5,000 years ago. The story goes that a single leaf fell into the Emperor’s hot water, while he was travelling around China. He felt so refreshed after drinking the beverage that from then on, he asked his soldiers to bring him his new favourite brew instead of water. 

Since written records only began around the 13th Century BC, there’s no reliable evidence to prove the story. However, according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, an independent, non-profit organization that works in support of the tea industry, tea containers have been found in tombs dating back to the Han Dynasty (206-220AD). Whatever the case, tea has been enjoyed by people over many, many centuries. 

Tea is thought to have first arrived in Canada around 1713, imported by Hudson’s Bay Company. One popular brand sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company was the “Fort Garry”, a blend of Indian and Ceylon orange pekoe tea. 

What are the Benefits of Drinking Tea?

Tea was originally consumed in Ancient China for its perceived medicinal properties. Whilst modern science is yet to prove conclusively all of the claims associated with drinking tea, there are a number of notable nutritional benefits. 

This low-calorie, often unsweetened beverage is an excellent way of increasing your water intake, guilt-free. Whilst tea does contain caffeine, it typically contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee or an energy drink. Additionally, tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which is believed to be linked to an increase in alertness and focus. It is also thought to slow the absorption of caffeine by the body, meaning you’ll get a steadier energy boost, without the caffeine crash. 

Teas are also known to contain a multitude of antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids. Antioxidants help the body to eliminate free radicals. Polyphenols, in particular, are thought to regulate gut bacteria in the body. Tea is believed to be good for digestion, and green teas, like our Green Tea Genmaicha are often drunk after a meal in many Asian countries, for this reason.

With all these great nutritional benefits, it’s little wonder that the phrase “Fancy a cuppa tea?” is often iterated when comforting one another. 

What Types of Tea are Available?

There are six types of tea available around the world: black tea, white tea, green tea, oolong tea, yellow tea and Pu-erh tea. All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant and the difference comes from how the leaves are treated after harvesting. 

White teas are the least processed and are made from only the newest leaves from each Camellia Sinensis bush. It has the most subtle flavour of all the teas. Next comes green teas, which come in a huge range of varieties, depending on region and production process. In general, heat is applied to the tea leaves in the form of steaming or pan-firing, which prevents oxidation. Often, green teas are thought to have a more grassy flavour. 

Yellow teas are rarely found outside China due to the labour-intensive processing methods. After basic processing and once the tea leaves are dried, they are wrapped in wet paper or cloth to induce a mild oxidation process through steaming. This can take up to 3 days and results in a smoother, mellower flavour than green tea. 

Oolong tea sits between green and black tea on the oxidation scale. Large, mature leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant are chosen and are subject to multiple steps of rolling, followed by oxidizing. Black tea is made from fully oxidized Camellia Sinensis leaves and the flavours can be anything between flowery, malty, spicy or even nutty. 

Finally, Pu-erh tea is produced in a similar way to black tea, but it goes through an extra fermentation step. After processing, the tea leaves are carefully stored and aged, like fine wines. 

Best Teas to Try

Whether you’re new to the world of tea or looking for a little inspiration, we’ll have a fantastic tea online here at Portfolio Coffee to tickle your tastebuds! So check out our online tea store today for some of the world’s tastiest teas. 

English Breakfast Tea

Perhaps what the vast majority of the Western world thinks of when we say “fancy a cuppa?”, is the English Breakfast Tea, which packs bold flavours into each mug. Perforated with roasted notes, it’s a little bit malty, a little bit bitter and a little bit sweet, all rolled into one. Typically enjoyed with a touch of milk, and a little sugar, the strong flavour is a fantastic way to kick-start your day. 

Matcha Tea

For a light and satisfying green tea, try our ever-popular Matcha Tea. It has a deep, complex flavour profile, with sweet grassy and nutty notes and is particularly refreshing after a meal. Matcha Tea is typically described by grade: ceremonial, culinary and premium. Our Matcha Tea comes in powder form, making it easy to use in matcha lattes and to flavour cakes and crepes!

Strawberry & Rose Tea

There’s nothing that says summer more than strawberries, which is why our Strawberry & Rose Tea is the perfect tea to have on standby in your pantry! You get a deliciously refreshing strawberry tea, which is perfect hot or cold and has just a hint of a floral note from the rose. You could even try mixing it with iced sparkling water for a truly refreshing summer beverage!

Of course, if you’re looking to broaden your beverage consumption beyond tea, then check out our Coffee Sample Packs for more inspiration! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Good to Drink Tea Every Day?

As Oscar Wilde once said “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. Tea consumed as a balanced, healthy diet should not have any adverse effects on the body. 

A quick search on the Internet will show you that there are lots and lots of health claims about drinking tea on a regular basis. Some claims have more evidence to support them than others. However, the simple truth is that drinking tea on a daily basis can be a source of antioxidants and if you enjoy drinking tea, then it can encourage you to increase your water intake. 

If you are worried about caffeine intake, then there are lots of herbal teas around which are naturally caffeine-free. Our Lemon Ginger Tea is a fantastically refreshing beverage, which is warming from the ginger with a touch of zing!

When Should I Drink Tea?

Tea is a pretty versatile beverage and can be enjoyed almost any time of day. Having said that, you may want to limit your consumption of higher caffeine teas, like black teas, during the evening. 

The caffeine in teas can act as a natural stimulant, making them great for times when you’re feeling a little sluggish. Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Pop on the kettle! Need a pick-me-up after a meal? Make a refreshing cuppa! Many cultures also drink tea after a meal, particularly green teas and Pu-erh teas. It’s thought that drinking tea after a meal aids digestion.

If you do find yourself craving some tea later in the afternoon, then you may wish to indulge in herbal tea. A light and refreshing Peppermint Tea is particularly soothing after dinner, and a calming Chamomile Tea is perfect before bed.   

Does Tea Dehydrate You?

Tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is one of approximately 60 species of plants that naturally produce caffeine. This naturally stimulating chemical compound also acts as a diuretic. So logically speaking, it would stand to reason that tea may cause you to lose more water, than drinking something without caffeine. 

Having said all that, the jury’s still out on whether tea actually causes dehydration. Studies over the years have been contradictory, but generally, it’s believed that you’d need to consume a lot of tea and, thus a lot of caffeine, for the diuretic effect to really impact you. Plus, tea is both delicious and refreshing, and if it encourages you to drink more than you normally would, then you’re likely increasing your water intake to start with. In short, it’s fine to drink tea in moderation, as part of an overall balanced and healthy diet. 

Is Tea Better Hot or Cold?

In terms of taste, it’s a matter of preference whether a tea is better hot or cold. Traditionally, tea is made by steeping tea leaves in hot water between 70-90°C. Whilst the use of hot or cold water is not believed to have a material impact on the nutritional content of the tea, steeping tea leaves in cold water is thought to maximize the antioxidant properties of tea, particularly white tea. According to the Journal of Food Science & Technology, cold brewing techniques yielded the highest antioxidant activity, lower caffeine, reduced bitterness, and increased aroma. 

But drinking tea is about more than just the nutritional content. Think about a chilly fall day and how you feel when you eat a hot bowl of pumpkin soup or stew. Comforting, right? Drinking hot tea can have a similar feel-good effect that you don’t get with a cold brew. In fact, on the note of pumpkin, our Pumpkin Spice Tea combines the sweet smoothness of pumpkin spice with a deliciously comforting drink. But hot or cold, there’s no question that tea simply tastes great! 

Can You Drink Tea on an Empty Stomach?

Whilst we all love a good cup of tea in the morning, drinking tea on a completely empty stomach is not the best idea. Tea is slightly acidic and drinking tea on an empty stomach is thought to potentially affect the balance of acids and alkalis in your stomach.

Tea leaves contain tannins, which are the source of the slightly bitter taste associated with tea. However, tannins on an empty stomach may potentially make you feel a bit nauseous. 

The bottom line is that you can absolutely enjoy your morning cuppa – just make sure you eat something alongside it.  

What Tea Makes You Fall Asleep?

There’s nothing quite like the warmth of a hot cup of tea to soothe and relax you in the evenings. But before you reach for another cup of Earl Grey Tea, let’s take a moment and consider just what’s in your cuppa. Black teas, like Earl Grey Tea, contain a fair amount of caffeine, which is a natural stimulant. So, perhaps the last thing you need is an energy boost before bed. 

This is where herbal teas start to come into their own. Chamomile Tea is a popular herbal tea to have right before bed. It’s made from the Chamomile plant, which is believed to have a sedative effect. Alternatively, if herbal teas aren’t quite your cup of tea, then go for a low-caffeine green tea, which won’t have the same stimulating effect as a black tea.
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