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Tea For Beginners

The best rule about tea is that there are no rules. Tea is very versatile and everyone can find their favourite tea for any time of the day.

In general one can say that black tea is the strongest, in terms of taste, colour and caffeine content, followed by Pu Erh, Oolong tea and green and whites teas. To get the best out of the tea leaves the right brewing technique is crucial (see “How to brew the perfect cup of Tea”).

For simplicity we divide potential tea drinkers into four groups

1. Complete beginner
2. Tea drinker who wants to find out more about the different teas
3. Coffee drinker
4. Health conscious tea drinker

Group 1

If you are new to the world of tea the best thing to do is to try each type of tea to find out which one appeals to you the most. It might help to try a scented tea first and move on from there. Here are some suggestions as to what teas to try:

  • Black Assam (a strong, coppery red coloured example).
  • Black Darjeeling (a more delicate, lighter tea).
  • Wild Cherry (scented black tea with cherry pieces)
  • Green Mao Feng (typical Chinese green tea, easy to drink)
  • Green Sencha (different flavours, from Japan)
  • Green Spring (scented green tea with strawberry and red currant).

To make it easier for you we put all these teas in the "Beginner" pack including a tea net (Euro 12.50).

Group 2

You are already a tea drinker and it is most likely black tea. Since Irish teas mainly consist of hearty African and/or Indian blends your palate is used to strong brews. In order to enjoy lighter and more fragrant teas we recommend that you explore the differences between the black teas firstly before you move on to the Oolongs and green teas.

We recommend the following teas:

  • Ceylon OP St. James (Ceylon Nuwara Eliya is even higher quality but more expansive)
  • Darjeeling Singtom BOP or Kalej Valley (other Darjeelings are suitable as well)
  • China Keemun (completely different from the two above but strong and aromatic)
  • Any Chinese green tea (depending on your budget)
  • Jasmine Superior or a flavoured green tea of your liking
  • Oolong Orange Blossom (flavoured and highly oxidised) or Oolong Kwai Flower (with osmanthus petals, a little expensive but well worth it).

Try to detect the differences in smell, colour and taste. Give your palate a chance and stay off the strong teas (especially tea bags) for a while. It is like having too much salty food which will overpower any other spice. When you return to your old favourites do you notice the difference?

Group 3

You did not like tea very much in the past but you want/need to replace coffee with something healthier. Start with black teas. Assam, Nilgiri, Ceylon or China Keemun (Golden Monkey even better) or any Pu Erh teas are particularly recommendable. They are strong and aromatic, a bit like coffee.

If you like what you are drinking you could move on to more delicate teas like Darjeelings, green or white.

Group 4

Tea was first used as a medicine before it became a drink. It contains vitamins (especially green tea), minerals, essential oils and a group of chemicals called 'polyphenols'. They are responsible for the many health benefits of tea. Please have a look at the chapter "Tea and Health" for more information.

We suggest three to five cups of green or white tea daily. Which particular tea depends on your preferences and budget. Jasmine tea is easy to drink and ideal after a rich meal. For a white tea Pai Mu Tan or the White Grapefruit are very suitable.

Pu Erh and Oolong teas are known to be best for reducing 'bad' cholesterol and to have slimming properties.

It is a myth that black teas does nothing for your health. It does not contain vitamin C anymore but high amounts of antioxidants.

Please be aware that tea contains caffeine. An alternative would be Rooibos tea which has a lot of vitamin C but no caffeine at all.