March 15, 2019 4 min read 3 Comments

Whether you are new to tea or have been drinking it for some time, it is common to have many questions as you begin to explore the world of tea in greater depth. Tea has been consumed for thousands of years and has been grown in almost every corner of the globe. With its extensive history, the tea industry can be rather intimidating to enter. We hope that our blog and Tea 101 page can be a resource for you, no matter where you are at in your tea education and that this post, in particular, can help answer some of the most commonly asked tea questions.


What is tea?

Tea is an infusion made from the dried leaves of a flowering evergreen plant camellia sinensis. Originally native to Eastern and Southern Asia, it is now grown successfully in Africa and South America, the Middle East, parts of the United States and even New Zealand. Of the four major types of teas, China is the country the produces them all, while Japan produces large quantities of green tea, Taiwan makes extravagant oolongs, and Sri Lankan & Indian estates yield great crops of black teas.

What are the different types of tea?

There are many different types of tea, but we can categorize them into 5 major categories - Black, Oolong, Herbal, Green and White tea. However, Herbal tea isn’t technically tea at all, but herbs brewed in the same way that tea is brewed. Herbals, sometimes referred to as tisanes, never had any caffeine in them. Additionally, some might named Matcha as its own category, but in the end it is still a powdered green tea. You can learn more about the different types of teas we sell and how to brew them by reading our Ultimate Tea Brewing Guide.

What is a tea blend?

Tea blends are made by combining different teas or by adding fruit, herbs, oils and spices to produce a unique flavor. Tea blends sometimes contain mildly less caffeine than non-blends because the tea leaves that are usually present in a non-blended tea have been replaced with fruits, herbs and spices.

What are tea grades?

Teas are placed in different tea grades or categories based on how broken or whole their leaves are. The more broken a leaf, the faster the caffeine will be released in water. Oftentimes, the tea leaves in teabags are very broken so they typically have higher levels of caffeine than their full leaf counterparts, when infused the same way.


What is the difference between drinking loose leaf tea and teabags or sachets?

Connoisseurs almost always choose loose tea, because it makes the ultimate cup of tea. When leaves are smaller, the flavor is more brisk due to their larger surface area. Large leaf black teas are more mellow and complex. You can choose to buy your loose tea in a decorative, gift-worthy Harney tin, or save with a full Harney Pound bag and refill your tins when you like.

Teabags are good for brewing tea on the fly. Each bag provides the ideal quantity for a mug and the broken leaves infuse faster than loose tea. Teabags travel well and mean you can have a comforting cup wherever you go.

A large variety of distinctive Harney & Sons teas and herbal infusions come in our perfect pyramid sachets. The shape allows for full leaves and improved water flow, resulting in a very nice cup of tea. The quantity is measured for you and there’s no straining required. Many Harney tea sachets can be purchased in 50-count bags for extra savings.

How much caffeine is in tea?

No matter what you drink, there is no one-size-fits-all number for the amount of caffeine in your favorite type of tea. Caffeine levels in tea can be affected by how they are processed and brewed, but we’ll get into that later. Until then, you can rest easy knowing that our teas typically have between 40 and 60 milligrams of caffeine per cup with matcha teas and white teas taking first and second place in the “Most Caffeinated Tea” category. So, if you are looking for a tea to replace your morning joe, we suggest checking out our selection of matcha and white teas. If you are looking for a caffeine-free brew you’ll love our herbal teas.

How is tea flavored?

Harney & Sons offers a wide variety of teas. Some have no flavors added, some use natural flavors and only a handful are a blend of natural and artificial flavors. Since there is no evidence that these blended flavors pose a risk, we have no problem using them. We do understand that some people like to avoid them, so that is why we offer a wide teas only containing natural flavors (or unflavored teas).


How do I store tea?

It is fresh air, oxygen to be specific, which robs the flavor from loose-leaf teas. Store the teas in an airtight container away from moisture and direct sunlight. Don't store Harney & Sons teas in the refrigerator or freezer. The cooler temperatures will not preserve freshness of tea, and moisture and odors from the refrigerator or freezer will give your tea an unpleasant taste.

What are organic teas?

Harney & Sons offers organic teas that are certified organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program. That means that the growers do not use banned pesticides or artificial fertilizers on the plants. Just to be sure, we test them as well to ensure that there are not any pesticides present.

How long is tea good for?

Harney and Sons tea does not have an expiration date, but we recommend the product be consumed within two years of the “best by date” on our packages. If your tea is outside that window, there’s no harm in consuming it, however, it’s very likely the flavor and aroma will be very subdued. When in doubt, buy smaller quantities and consume it while it’s fresh!

Want to further your tea education? Read a few of our favorite posts below:

3 Responses


April 01, 2019

I have been drinking your tea for years and it’s the absolute best. Please , please consider making an almond black tea. I know there’s almond in the wedding tea but it’s just not enough. Thanks!

Janet Wilson
Janet Wilson

March 21, 2019

I love my Paris tea! I do not care for my tea to be really strong, it gives the tea a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Paris tea has a milder, smoother flavor. I made the mistake of completely running out of my supply and put in an order right away once. I was like a child waiting patiently for my tea to arrive. I was actually excited when it was delivered, Then I thought about how silly I must have looked and went into the house and made myself a cup of tea.

Kimberly Thomas
Kimberly Thomas

March 15, 2019

I just have to thank Zulily for allowing me to find you. I found that I prefer to buy directly from you though!

So that being said. I am mad about your Paris tea. I have always loved tea, ice tea, sweet tea, straight tea, flavored tea, black tea, and green tea! I did find that usually, the bitter aftertaste of a hot cup of black tea was disheartening. I began taking the temperature of the water, timing the brewing and still a slight bitterness.

Well, Paris tea if there were such a thing as being a perfect cup of tea this would be it. I love it. I adore it. It will be my go-to tea from henceforth!!! I have never in my 64 yrs ever tasted such a calm, smooth delicious cup of tea that makes me just sit and thoroughly enjoy a lovely hot cup of tea. I let my mind wander into a fantasy. To live in France in the country and enjoy what is left of my life.

Thank you, Harney & Sons.

Warm Wishes,

Kimberly Thomas

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