How do I get started?
Assuming you are interested in loose leaf tea, the most basic setup for a beginner would be a cup and strainer or infuser (avoid small or novelty infusers). You’ll also need a way to heat water. Electric kettles are nice, but something as simple as a pot on the stove will work just fine. Finally you’ll need tea. Samples are your friend. Until you have a good idea of what tea you like, it’s best to seek out merchants who offer sample packs. Try to avoid buying anything in larger quantities until you know for sure that you will enjoy it.
Once you have the basics together, it’s time to brew your tea. The general rule of thumb is one teaspoon of tea for 6-8 ounces (180-240 ml) of water. 3-5 minutes is a pretty typical amount of time to let it steep. Read further down for more specific guidelines on steep time, tea quantity, and water temperature. But remember, these are only guidelines. There are no rules set in stone. The bottom line is that the best cup of tea is the one that tastes good to you.
How do you brew tea?
- Heat water in a pot or kettle. Microwaving is not recommended.
- Add the appropriate amount of tea (usually 1 teaspoon per cup) to your tea infuser. Place the tea infuser inside your teapot or mug.
- When the water reaches the desired temperature, pour it over the tea infuser into your mug or teapot. This will allow the water to circulate through the leaves.
- Time your tea. Once the time is up, dunk the infuser a couple of times to circulate the water. Remove the infuser and set aside for a second infusion, which most leaves should be able to handle.
Time and Temperature Guide:
|Black||95°C / 205°F||3 – 5|
|Oolong/White||85°C / 185°F||3 – 4|
|Green/Yellow||80°C / 176°F||2 – 3|
|Herbal/Tisanes||100°C / 212°F||5 – 15|
Please note that these are only guidelines and you may need to experiment to get the taste you like. This method is is known as western brewing. Pu-erh is not recommended for this style. For more detailed information, including how to brew gongfu style, please read on.
What is an ‘infusion’?
An infusion means ‘one steeping’. In other words, it is the time when water meets leaf, and you extract some flavor from the leaves.
Tea bags can only handle one infusion.
Loose leaf tea can often handle more than one, and if you use a brewing method other than Western, they can often handle a very large amount.
What’s the difference between “brewing”, “infusing”, and “steeping”?
None. The terms are used interchangeably.
Why does my tea taste weak?
If your tea is weak, there are a few usual causes.
- Not enough leaves.
- Too cool water.
- Did not steep long enough.
Why is my tea bitter?
This is the result of either too hot water, too long of a steep time, or too much tea.
If your water temp is similar to the recommendation above, then reduce your steep time by 20 seconds, and taste.
Why does my tea get cold so fast?
Most likely the heat is being absorbed by your teaware. Try preheating your teapot, teacup, and whatever else is going to come in contact with your tea. Fill them with boiling water and let it sit for a minute or 2, or pour boiling water over them (be careful!).
You can also get a tea cozy to put over your pot to help keep it warm longer.
Caution about small infusers
Tea leaves expand as you steep them. Teas that are rolled, or even twisted tightly, will need plenty of room to grow.
For this reason, small infusers like the ball or novelty kind should be avoided. If you choose to use an infuser, it’s best to use a large basket infuser. An alternative is to strain your tea, or use a gaiwan.
Western Style Brewing
This is the way most European and North American tea drinkers are used to making tea. It is the method which was described above.
Gong-fu Style Brewing
Gōngfuchá (功夫茶/工夫茶) or gongfu tea means tea made with skill, and indeed, consistently good steeping requires precision, good control over your equipment, and understanding the effects of many different variables. The result is worth the effort!
Compared to western style brewing, gong-fu style involves one core idea: lots of tea leaf, very little water, many infusions. Due to the high leaf-to-water ratio, the initial infusion times will often be very short, measured in seconds rather than minutes. The amount of tea made from each infusion will be small, but brewing in this style will provide many more total infusions than western style.
Gong-fu style brewing is often done in a gaiwan (a lidded cup) or a small teapot. Common sizes of these brewing vessels range from 75ml to 150ml, though smaller and larger ones also exist. (See link below for more information about other gong-fu style teaware and accessories.)
- Fill your vessel with many leaves. The amount of leaf is usually 3–8 grams per 100 ml of water. Tightly rolled teas (such as some oolongs) or tightly compressed tea (some puerh), should cover the bottom of the brewing vessel and will expand by several times during brewing. Bulkier teas which don’t expand as much should fill about one third to one half of the brewing vessel when starting. Using a scale to measure will help prevent using too little or too much leaf and improve consistency with each gong-fu tea session.
- Use water temperature appropriate for the type of tea you are brewing. Pu-erh is commonly brewed with boiling water, but temperatures ranging down to 185°F/85°C can be used create different flavor experiences, especially with young raw pu-erh. Many high quality oolongs will brew well with boiling water, but when in doubt, darker oolongs should do well at 195°F/90°C and greener oolongs at 185°F/85°C.
- Pour water over the leaves and Steep for only a few seconds. With so many leaves, a longer steep time is not necessary. The first couple of infusions usually take around 5–30 seconds depending on the type of tea and your preferences. Tightly rolled or compressed teas may need longer first steeps as the leaves take time to open up. When timing your steep, keep in mind that the tea starts brewing as soon as water first hits the leaves and continues until all the tea has been poured out.
- End the steeping by pouring the tea from the brewing vessel into a serving pitcher, cup, or multiple cups. (When pouring directly into multiple cups, note that the tea will get stronger as you pour it: try to pour the tea multiple times into the same cups to keep it equally strong for everyone.)
- Re-steep for as many times as you like while increasing the steep time by a few seconds every infusion as needed to maintain the tea’s strength. Eventually the tea will become flavorless, and this is when you should stop. This may be after 10 or more infusions.
More information can be found on the “Introduction to Gongfu Tea” page.
There are probably a few ways you could make it but the the way it’s most recognized is with the use of a chawan (Tea bowl), and a chasen (Bamboo whisk).
- You start by putting hot water into the chawan to warm it up and put the chasen in the water to make it more flexible for the whisking process.
- When the bowl has warmed up, take out the chasen, dump the water out and dry the bowl off. Then add about 2 grams of matcha in the middle of the bowl.
- Then pour some new hot water (around 70-80 Celsius) into the bowl in a circular motion to let the tea move around and get your chasen ready.
- Take your chasen with your thumb, index, and middle finger and whisk it in a up and down, zig zag motion. Usually you would do this until it foams up and gets a nice grassy green color.
You can drink it however you want but I would recommend not to add anything and just enjoy the flavor that the matcha offers. Everyone has different taste though and I’m a strong believer that the best cup of tea is what taste the best to you, so add anything you like!
(Thanks to /u/MisterSpencer)
Usucha, or thin tea, is prepared with approximately 1.75 grams (amounting to 1.5 heaping chashaku scoop, or about half a teaspoon) of matcha and approximately 75 ml (2.5 oz) of hot water per serving.
Koicha, or thick tea, requires significantly more matcha (usually about doubling the powder and halving the water): approximately 3.75 grams (amounting to 3 heaping chashaku scoops, or about one teaspoon) of matcha and approximately 40 ml (1.3 oz) of hot water per serving, or as many as six teaspoons to 3/4 cup of water.
Wikipedia has a more detailed guide, which also includes tons of other info on matcha.
If you like pictures, WikiHow has a less traditional preparation guide.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Japanese tea ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guests view point (angle), especially the main guests called the Shokyaku.
“Grandpa Style” Brewing
Grandpa Style refers to the habit of the elderly in China.
The idea is to put leaves in a large mug, and continue to fill with water, never removing the leaves from the cup. This means the leaves will always be steeping. For this reason it is best to avoid teas that get bitter easily. Additionally you must choose leaves that will sink, and are fairly large. Otherwise you will just choke on leaves. This is a very lazy way to drink tea, as you do not need to measure your tea, or strain it. It is great way to make tea while working, and with high quality leaves, the tea stays strong for many hours.
Tips for brewing grandpa style:
- Choose teas that have large, whole leaves that won’t float
- Try to select teas that don’t get bitter easily (many oolongs are great for this)
- Use more leaves than you would for a single cup/western brewing
- Start out with slightly cooler water, and your leaves will last longer
How do I make a “chai latte”?
Chai actually translates literally to tea. But most commonly when people refer to chai, they mean the drink popular in India called masala chai. It is a blend of black tea (usually Assam) and spices which can vary but almost always include cardamom. Here is a simple photo recipe which has been pretty popular around here.
What is tea?
All true tea comes from the varietals and cultivars of the camellia sinensis plant. If you are drinking something that did not come from this plant (chamomile, mint, tulsi, rooibos, honeybush, etc.), it is not tea and falls under the broader category of herbal infusions, aka “tisanes.” White, Green, Oolong, Yellow, Black and Pu-erh teas all come from the camellia sinensis plant and the type of tea is determined largely by the processing methods used on the plucked leaves.
How many different kinds of tea are there, and what are they?
Teas are generally divided into tea type categories based on how they are processed. Under each tea type, are many tea styles that are defined by variations in processing steps, cultivar, terroir, husbandry, and tea maker intention. The multitude of teas that can be found on the market can be very confusing to a beginner. This confusion can be exacerbated by the fact that different vendors will use different names for the same tea, and there are some terms that are pure marketing.
The 6 main tea categories are:
- Green tea is a type of tea made from leaves that have been withered, fixed, then dried. The defining step in green tea production is the fixing step, which arrests any enzyme activity responsible for oxidation.
- Yellow tea is defined by a unique processing step known as heaping or piling and involves piling and covering the leaves after fixing, allowing them to yellow slightly.
- White tea is a type of tea made from leaves that have been withered and dried. White tea is the least processed tea. During the long withering period, the leaves oxidize slightly.
- Oolong tea is a type of tea whose leaves are semi-oxidized, meaning that during production, oxidation is initiated, controlled and halted at some point before the leaves are considered fully oxidized. A distinct step in the processing of traditional oolong tea is the bruising step (also called rattling or shaking) where the leaves are shaken, lightly rolled or tumbled until the edges bruise.
- Black tea is a fully oxidized tea wherein fresh tea leaves were withered, rolled, allowed to oxidize, then dried. The goal of black tea production is to induce (by rolling, cutting, etc) and control (by closely monitoring humidity, airflow, and temperature) oxidation until the tea leaves are fully oxidized.
- Fermented tea refers to tea that is intentionally fermented. Primarily, fermented tea refers to tea that was fermented during processing via a pile fermentation step called wo dui such as shu puer and heicha. The fermented tea category also holds several fermented teas from Japan and teas that are intentionally fermented after processing, such as sheng puer.
Resources to better understand the different types of tea:
World of Tea has created a tea processing chart that represents the latest thinking surrounding tea classification. The chart outlines the minimum steps that fresh tea leaves must go through to be considered a tea of a specific category.
WikiTea also has a pretty good explanation of tea categories, as well as examples of some of the styles and origins of each.
What is “orange pekoe”? How about “FTGFOP”?
In the tea industry, tea leaf grading is the process of evaluating products based on the quality and condition of the tea leaves themselves. The highest grades are referred to as “orange pekoe”, and the lowest as “fannings” or “dust”.
Pekoe tea grades are classified into various qualities, each determined by how many of the adjacent young leaves (two, one, or none) were picked along with the leaf buds. Top-quality pekoe grades consist of only the leaf buds, which are picked using the balls of the fingertips. Fingernails and mechanical tools are not used to avoid bruising.
Grades of whole leaf orthodox tea:
Whole leaf tea refers to tea that has not been broken or torn during production. The size and shape of the leaf varies widely, both as a function both of the types of leaves used, and how it is processed.
- FP – Flowery Pekoe
- FTGFOP – Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
- TGFOP – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
- TGFOP1 – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Grade One
- GFOP – Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
- FOP – Flowery Orange Pekoe
- OP – Orange Pekoe
- OPA – Orange Pekoe A, A long-leaf tea with large, thick leaves, that can be either tightly-wound or more open.
- P – Pekoe
- S – Souchong
What is a tea flush?
Tea flush refers to the the tea growing seasons (certain time periods) in Darjeeling.
What are the major tea flushes grown and harvested in Darjeeling?
Darjeeling has altogether three major flushes as follows:
- First Flush from mid-March to May
- Second Flush from June to mid-August
- Third Flush (Autumn Flush) from October to November
However there are two minor flushes as well:
- In-Between Flush for two weeks in-between the first and second flushes
- Rains/Monsoon Flush between the second and third flushes during the month of September
What is pu-erh?
Pu-erh or Pu’er is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Fermentation is a tea production style in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. This process is a Chinese specialty and produces tea known as Hei Cha (黑茶), commonly translated as dark, or black tea (this type of tea is completely different from what in the West is known as “black tea”, which in China is called “red tea” 红茶). The best known variety of this category of tea is Pu-erh from Yunnan Province, named after the trading post for dark tea during imperial China.
Pu’er traditionally begins as a raw product known as “rough” Mao Cha (毛茶) and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as “raw” Sheng Cha (生茶). Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. The Wo Dui process (渥堆) developed in the mid-1970s by the Menghai and Kunming Tea Factories created a new type of pu-erh tea, whose legitimacy is disputed by some traditionalists. This process involves an accelerated fermentation into “ripe” Shou Cha (熟茶) which is then stored loose or pressed into various shapes. All types of pu-erh can be stored to mature before consumption, which is why it is commonly labelled with year and region of production.
For more information see these articles:
How do I brew pu-erh?
Some milder pu-erh, mostly “ripe” (shou), can be brewed western style with a similar time and temperature as black tea. This is not recommended though, as you aren’t likely to produce the best results. You will achieve much better results by brewing gong-fu style, as described above in the gong-fu section.
What should I be careful of when buying tea?
Loose leaf does not always mean whole leaf. Good quality loose leaf teas will usually be the entire leaf. If it looks shredded or torn apart, your tea may not be very high quality.
This isn’t always a bad thing, as it can make the tea much cheaper to purchase. If you find a great tasting tea you enjoy, and it uses broken leaves, there really isn’t a problem, but it may be worth trying to find a higher quality version of the same tea, as you might enjoy it even more!
Keep in mind that some teas will always have broken leaves due to certain processing methods, or certain styles. Deeply steamed Japanese green teas are a good example of this. Other teas like Irish breakfast are often intentionally broken to increase the “briskness” of the tea. In cases like these, broken leaves are not necessarily an indication of poor quality.
This is another a sign of low quality tea. Most of the good aspects of tea are contained in the leaves and buds, not the stems. Since you pay for tea by weight, this means you are getting less leaf for your money. Too many stems or twigs can also have a negative impact on taste.
But, as with any other rule, there are always exceptions. “Kukicha” and “hojicha” are Japanese teas that intentionally include stems to produce a unique flavor. In many Taiwanese teas, you’ll often see several leaves still connected to each other by the stem. In these cases the presence of stems is merely an element of the way these teas have been processed, and can actually be desireable.
Dust is filler. It has a ‘tea-like’ taste, but none of the finer aspects of any tea. If your tea is very dusty, it may be a sign of low quality. This is especially true if the tea is also fragmented, or includes stems and twigs.
Fake and Marketing Names
The terms below are meaningless in this day and age. It is possible they once meant something, but if you see these terms in a product’s description today, it is safe to totally ignore.
Please add to this list if you find any more marketing terms.
- Monkey Picked
How much caffeine is in tea?
There is a lot of good information out there about the caffeine content in tea, but there is probably a lot more misinformation. The bottom line is, all true teas come from camellia sinensis and contain caffeine. Even so-called decaffeinated teas still contain small amounts. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you are best off avoiding tea altogether.
Here are some great resources to clear up some of the hype/myths surrounding caffeine levels in tea:
- CAFFEINE AND TEA: Myth and Reality by Nigel Melican http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/02/caffeine-and-tea-myth-and-reality.html
- Debunking the At-Home Decaf Myth by Bruce Richardson (submitted by UnwashedMeme)http://theteamaestro.blogspot.com/2010/05/de-bunking-at-home-decaffeination-myth.html
- The Latest Buzz on Tea and Caffeine Bruce Richardson’s more recent article, which also summarizes the one above: http://theteamaestro.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-latest-buzz-on-tea-and-caffeine.html
Low caffeine teas
There are some teas we know to be less caffeinated by their very nature.
- Hojicha & kukicha – These Japanese green teas are naturally lower in caffeine due to how they are made. Kukicha is made from the stems of tea plants. Hojicha is a roasted green tea often made from kukicha. Because of their low leaf content they have less caffeine, as most is stored in the leaves themselves.
- Herbal teas – Actually a bit of a misnomer, as they don’t contain any tea. Also known as tisanes, these infusions are made by steeping other plant matter in a similar fashion. They are caffeine-free because the plants they come from just simply don’t contain caffeine to begin with. However, there are a few exceptions like yerba mate, guayusa, yaupon, and guarana.
Where is the best place to store tea?
The lifetime and quality of tea is diminished by light, air, heat, moisture, and odor. Store your tea away from these things. The recommended container is some type of metal (to block light), with an air-tight seal.
If you choose to use mason jars or other glass containers, be sure to keep your tea out of the light.
Where can I purchase some inexpensive tea tins?
- Many /r/tea users have suggested Specialty Bottle as a good source for inexpensive containers.
- Harney & Sons sells simple square black tins in 4 oz. and 8 oz. sizes.
- DAVIDsTEA has 100g round tins that come in 8 different colors as well as silver.
- World Market offers some tins with a bit more style, but not quite as cheap as some of the other options.
Some companies also offer free tea tins with the purchase of an amount of tea.
How does tea affect your health?
There can be many positive health benefits to tea. However, the legitimacy of such claims is a topic that is hotly disputed. To prevent the debate from overtaking this subreddit, this subject is discouraged. If you are interested in tea or other herbal infusions for your health, it is recommended that you visit /r/AlternativeHealth or somewhere else that caters to this topic.
How much tea is too much?
This can depend on many factors, including the type and quality of the tea, as well as any medical conditions you currently have or are predisposed to. Please consult your doctor if you are concerned, as this is considered beyond the scope of this subreddit.
Is drinking tea bad for you?
Multiple gallons of instant tea or low quality fannings per day for twenty years has the possibility of leading to health issues. If you are drinking tea of reasonable quality in less than excessive amounts, it’s not likely that you have much to worry about. The Guardian has a nice article on this.
Keep in mind when reading articles on the health risks of tea (and the benefits for that matter) that the in most cases the publisher has a vested interest in keeping people reading their magazine or website. They often sensationalize the headlines, omit facts, and blow things out of proportion to get your attention.
Can the fluoride in tea make you sick?
There have been a few cases of people getting skeletal fluorosis from tea. However pretty much all can be attributed to excessive consumption of low quality tea. Follow the links below for more information.
Common Tea Myths
By Michael J Coffey of Tea Geek.
The tea world is full of often-repeated tidbits of incorrect information. Here are some common myths, and more accurate versions of each issue.
Myth: Black tea has more caffeine than white or green tea.
While it is true that sometimes black tea has more caffeine, the style of processing is not a reliable way to predict caffeine levels. The cultivar of the plant, growing conditions (including soil type, fertilizer used, weather, etc.), leaf picking, season, and many other factors affect the amount of caffeine. Even minor changes, such as an elevation change of less than 1000 feet, can cause a large variation in caffeine. Another example: the fourth leaf from the end of the branch can have a third the caffeine of the youngest leaf, so unless you know which leaves were plucked to make your tea, and the exact altitude at which they grew, there’s really no way to guess specifically how much caffeine there is in a given cup.
- Willson, K.C.; Clifford, M.N. (1992), Tea: Cultivation to Consumption, London: UChapman & Hall, pp. 69,123, 320, 427, 556, 590, 711-720, ISBN 0-412-33850-5
- Caffeine in Tea vs. Steeping Time
Myth: I heard tea helps prevent [insert illness], so I’m going to drink more tea.
There are many helpful and healthful compounds in tea. It’s probably a good thing to drink tea, so it’s not exactly a myth in the sense that these health claims are completely false. Where the misinformation creeps in is the idea that brewing up a cup and drinking it will give you the benefits found by the scientific study.
If you read many of the studies that send health-conscious people to the tea shops in droves, the “tea” is not what you’d think. For example, a recent study on how tea inhibits bacteria in the mouth was based on brewing tea for up to an hour, then using it as a mouthwash. They referenced another study that showed a similar result by holding tea leaves in the mouth for several minutes. The studies might be on rats, not humans. They might use tea extract, not brewed tea (which might or might not make a difference). The application might not be drinking, but injection or capsule, or merely looked at a test tube in the lab. One recent study decidedly did not get its results from drinking tea: “…green tea extract was subjected to a simulated gastrointestinal digestion and a ‘colon-available’ extract (CAGTE) prepared…“ While the study may eventually help preventing Alzheimer’s, artificially pre-digested extracts of tea are not the same as your afternoon cuppa.
The best advice, then, is probably to drink tea that you enjoy and know that your health is probably better off because of it.
- The Inhibitory Effects of Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) on the Growth and Proliferation of Oral Bacteria:http://www.depts.drew.edu/govschl/NJGSS2010/Journal/TeamPapers/Team3.pdf
- Increased Plasma Concentration of Epigallocatechin in Mice after Orally Administering a Green Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) Extract Supplemented by Steamed Rice: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228465
- In vitro protective effects of colon-available extract of Camellia sinensis (tea) against hydrogen peroxide and beta-amyloid (Aβ((1-42))) induced cytotoxicity in differentiated PC12 cells. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183323
Myth: The Boston Tea Party happened in protest of high taxes.
With the passage of the Tea Act in May of 1773, the taxes (and prices) on tea were actually decreased. What really happened is actually somewhat complex. Two of the main complaints, though, were about jurisdiction and profits. The jurisdiction aspect came because the colonists claimed the colonial charters gave them exclusive jurisdiction to taxation. It wasn’t “no taxation without representation” (a phrase coined a generation earlier), but rather that Parliament was overreaching the boundaries they themselves had set when the colonies were set up.
The profits part came in two ways: first, several members of the Sons of Liberty made money smuggling tea. One of the purposes of the Tea Act was to lower the cost of tea to the point that the East India Company could undercut the smugglers. Their official representatives, who could buy directly from the EIC, could also undercut other tea merchants in the colonies who were still forced to buy from middlemen in London. Smugglers and legal tea merchants, then, were losing all their profits to the EIC and their consignees. The other purpose of the Tea Act was to prop up the EIC which was having financial troubles. It essentially gave the EIC both tax breaks and a government-mandated monopoly in the colonies. The colonists didn’t like their own profits being handed over to the East India Company.
While all of the other colonies turned away the ships at their harbors, or convinced their Company consignees to refuse the shipment, these solutions were thwarted by Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson. Had the tea remained on the ships one more day, British troops could have come in and forced the unloading of the tea which would have forced the colony to admit to the jurisdiction of Parliament. The only solution remaining, then, was the destruction of the tea.
- Tea leaves: being a collection of letters and documents relating to the shipment of tea to the American colonies in the year 1773, by the East India Tea Company, compiled by Francis S. Drake (1884)
Myth: The important components in tea are caffeine, antioxidants, and L-theanine.
The parts that are not a myth are that these compounds are indeed in tea, and they certainly have some kind of impact on humans. The myth is the idea that these compounds are independent of one another and are the only important compounds to look at. For example, there are over 200 compounds that have been isolated just in the aroma of green tea. More than 450 compounds have been found in the smell of black tea, and only a few of these overlap with the green tea compounds. There are similar lists for compounds that affect the flavor and mouth-feel of tea.
These compounds interact with each other, too. It’s common for people to want to decrease bitterness in tea and to increase their antioxidant intake. However, the compounds with antioxidant properties in tea tend to taste bitter. Many people want to decrease caffeine and increase L-theanine because they want to relax, but some studies have shown that the mental calmness associated with L-theanine is increased when the L-theanine is consumed with caffeine.
To focus on caffeine, antioxidants, and L-theanine is to ignore taste, aroma, mouth-feel, actual physiological effects…virtually everything people enjoy about tea.
- Willson, K.C.; Clifford, M.N. (1992), Tea: Cultivation to Consumption, London: UChapman & Hall, ISBN 0-412-33850-5
- Zhen, Yong-su, ed. (2002), Tea: Bioactivity and Therapeutic Potential, New York: Taylor & Francies, ISBN 0-415-27345-5
Myth: Wulong (oolong) tea helps with weight loss.
Again, yes and no. It appears caffeine helps with weight loss, and wulong tea has caffeine…but so do all other kinds of true teas (thought not herbal “teas”). In one study, the energy burned by men drinking 5 cups of a water-and-caffeine mixture burned more calories than those drinking the same amount of wulong tea, who in turn burned more than those who just drank water. And although the effect was noticeable, it was small: the drinkers of caffeine water burned on average 79 calories per day more than the water drinkers. The wulong drinkers beat the plain water group by 67 calories per day. To put it in perspective, drinking 5 cups of tea will help you lose weight to the tune of the calories in a medium sized apple or orange per day.
Other compounds in tea may help to either decrease the storage of food energy as fat, or increase the burning of fat for energy. Again, this is seen at the level of 4-6 cups of tea per day, and the studies are not always looking at human digestion. And again, the differences found are typically small.
Wulong tea, then, technically does help with weight loss–but only very slightly, in fairly high levels of consumption, and not necessarily better than any other kind of true tea, and not necessarily in humans. If you regularly drink tea already, but use milk and/or sugar, having your tea plain (or finding a different tea that you enjoy plain) is probably going to have a bigger effect on weight loss than insisting on wulong as your diet drink of choice.