All About Our Teas
Our teas are all antioxidant-rich alternatives to matcha, without the painful price tag. Scroll down for introductions to our tea categories and links to the relevant Spotlight pieces on each type.
Before you start scrolling:
Check out this quick summary of antioxidant levels (as measured using ORAC, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) so the teas can be directly compared:
Rooibos production started around 1900, going commercial in the 1930s. Rooibos has a rich, distinctive taste, and is only grown in a 3000 square-mile area in the Cedarburg Mountains near Cape Town, South Africa.
Rooibos (Rooibush, African Red Tea, Red Bush or Red Tea) is not from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) but (unsurprisingly) is a bush, and so contains very few tannins, so no need to worry about bitterness from an extended steeping.
Post harvest, the green rooibos needles turn a deep red during the oxidation process, and brings another level of richness to a brew. For those interested in a different lighter flavor with double the amount of antioxidants, try our organic green rooibos (it is steamed immediately upon harvest, so doesn't oxidize at all during processing). The final process for both involves spreading the leaves out to be sun-dried.
Honeybush has a similar reddish appearance to red rooibos (albeit a little brighter), and is a botanical cousin of rooibos, similarly grown in South Africa. Its flavour is a beautiful honey-like rich sweetness.
If you haven’t tried honeybush, order a sample if not a whole bag! Rooibos, green rooibos and honeybush all contain a variety of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They contain no caffeine and are calorie free, so can be drunk all day long and into the evening when caffeinated teas and coffees are best left behind.
- Country of Origin: South Africa
- Grade: Choice Grade #1
- Altitude: 1500 - 2500 ft. above sea level
- Manufacture Type: Fermentation turns the leaves from green to deep red and gives a slightly sweet note
To learn more about Rooibos and Honeybush, check out our blog post comparing the two here. The natural step after that is to become totally obsessed with these teas, and you can try a huge variety of them here.
Holy basil (tulsi, tulasi or tulsiis) is, shockingly, a type of basil, but when dried and brewed does not taste anything like the basil you are imagining. The flavour is rich, warm, herbaceous and with a light spice and sweetness. The powerful flavour has hallmarks of the menthol effect of a strong mint tea with notes of peppermint, clove, or lemon.
It is among our collection of teas due to its antioxidant content, and being caffeine free, is an option for those wanting a rich flavourful brew in the evening and night. Often alternatives to black tea and coffee are more gently flavored, so this is also a perfect alternative for that morning decaf wake-up you might be craving, for which it is most definitely a strong and powerful flavor.
The Tulsi used in our teas is a blend of Rama (or green) tulsi, and Krishna (or purple) tulsi. Tulsi has a long history in its native place of the Indian subcontinent, being considered a sacred plant by Hindus. It is often planted around Hindu shrines and around the home and is used extensively in Ayurvedic traditional medicine across hundreds of different remedies.
We discovered it ourselves during an extended visit to Kerala, India, where it is commonplace and drunk regularly at all times of the day. You can read our blog post introducing Tulsi here or try our Tulsi Holy Basil teas here!
Moringa is a rather large tree native to North India and is one of the most remarkable teas we have discovered: It is super rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and nutrients, and is our only tea sold in powdered form.
This means that you consume the ENTIRE leaf, not just an infusion from the leaves, so you get all the moringa goodness.
Moringa provides more fiber, vitamins A & C, and protein than Matcha. Matcha doesn’t provide any protein, whereas Moringa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein - a rare thing for the plant world.
Moringa is quite an unusual plant:
- It is caffeine free, but helps enhance focus, concentration and alertness
- Studies have found that unlike other plants with limited shelf life due to nutrient break-down and other factors which occur over time, Moringa is not subject to that problem. The leaves, whether whole or powdered, can be stored for months without refrigeration and not lose their nutritional value.
- When the leaves (whole or powdered) are simmered in hot water, the iron content becomes 3x more bioavailable than it is when raw.
- Vitamin C (lemon juice) increases the iron bioavailability even more.
Moringa has an earthy taste with sweet undertones, with a spinach-like flavor similar to matcha, but without matcha’s bitterness, and is caffeine-free. However, it gives a natural, all-day energy boost thanks to being an adaptogen and is used to feel energetic and focused.
Our moringa is sourced from India, and is a finely ground powder that dissolves nicely in hot water.
Chamomile’s sweet yellow flowers have been infused as a drink for millennia by those seeking its calming effects.Its name comes from the Greek word chamaimelon, meaning "ground apple", due to its sweet, gentle smell. There are several varieties and countries of origin of Chamomilla - sometimes referred to as bachelor buttons because of the shape of the flower heads - but the best quality comes from Egypt.
The sandy loam and nutrients from the Nile create perfect growing conditions. Chamomile flowers have a yellow center and white petals - they almost look like a daisy.
Chamomile can be made into a pleasant aromatic tea which is slightly bitter with a fruity flavor. It is often sipped for relief of health problems ranging from toothache to indigestion to nervousness.
Chamomile has also been noted as beneficial for soothing headaches and is a natural relaxing herb known to assist the restless and those suffering from insomnia. It is also popular as a sleep aid due to its natural properties, which promote restfulness and drowsiness.
Chamomile is not recommended for pregnant, possibly pregnant, and nursing mothers.
- Country of Origin: Egypt
- Grade: 1st Grade
- Altitude: 1 – 500 feet above sea level
- Manufacture Type: Field grown, sun dried
Mate is made from a cousin of the Holly tree (Ilex paraguariensis) and is native to the subtropical highlands of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. The majority of the world's Yerba Mate is consumed in these countries.
However, in recent years, the popularity of Yerba Mate has finally begun to take hold around the world as an alternative to tea and coffee.
It is known as a coffee replacement due to its high caffeine content, and is traditionally consumed via a bombilla (a hollowed-out gourd with a sieve-like straw). The drink is made by brewing the dry roasted leaves of the tree, which are processed somewhat like tea leaves.
The tips of the branches are cut just before the leaves reach full growth and the leaves are steamed and dried (in fired mate the leaves are dried over fires). The dried leaves are sifted and allowed to age in order to enhance the flavor of the mate.
Technically, ‘yerba mate’ is the tree and ‘mate’ is the drink, however we like including ‘yerba’ in the name so it is easier to find and recognise!
- Country of Origin: Brazil
- Grade: 1st Grade
- Altitude: 4800 - 7600 feet above sea level
- Manufacture Type: Traditional, Orthodox, CTC (Cut, Torn and Curled)
If you love tea, you may (or may not) know that Green tea is produced in both Japan and China.
The practice of drinking green tea for medicinal purposes began in China and the first recorded use was 4,000 years ago!
Japanese tea is more standardized in flavor than Chinese green teas. There are multitudes of green tea grades, and with Japanese green tea you can be pretty certain what that cup of tea will taste like based on name and grade. The Green tea health benefits of those hailing from this little island are remarkable! Japanese green teas are steamed, and many grades are grown in the shade which yields higher chlorophyll content. More chlorophyll equals richer nutrient density. They are also higher in amino acids, and they act to support the immune system.
Because Chinese teas are lower in chlorophyll, they tend to brew a tea with golden tones instead of green ones. Chinese tea leaves are picked every two weeks during their season (depending on the type of course!), and then solar withered in rooms beneath glass ceilings to prevent oxidizing. They go through a second step of withering before being pan fried. One type of Chinese green tea called Dragonwell can only be harvested two weeks out of the whole year! The leaves are broad and entirely flat, the tea brews a rich golden color and the flavor is smooth and unique.
- Countries of Origin: China and Japan
- Grade: Varies by tea type (sencha grade, Congou Whole Leaf, etc.)
- Altitude: Varies between 500 and 4900 feet above sea level
- Manufacture Type: Steamed (Japanese and Japanese style greens) and pan fried (Chinese greens)
Purple tea is one of the big new players in the world of tea, due to its antioxidant and caffeine levels, and its hefty dose of anthocyanins (a yummy antioxidant) due to its purple hue. It is fruity with overtones of black plum and a mildly woody nose. The liquor exhibits a light amber-purple color. A unique tea!
Purple Tea is only grown in Kenya and is from a new type of tea, the Camellia Sinensis Assamica, var. TRFK 306/1.
It is grown exclusively in Kenya, and our Purple Tea is grown by the wonderful people at Emrok in Nandi County in Kenya's Rift Valley. Emrok’s tea gardens cover 1,000 acres at an altitude of 2,000 meters. The cold climate and volcanic soil is favorable for tea growing and accounts for the excellent quality of this gorgeous tea.
Why the premium price? Well, apart from being a brand new tea varietal taking the world by storm, developed and grown uniquely in Kenya...: All Emrok Tea is 100% pesticide free, and they are Rainforest Alliance (SAN) certified, ISO 22000 certified, participants in the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), members of the Tea Board of Kenya, and Kenya Board of Standards (KEBS) approved. Additionally, our tea importer has exclusive access to provide this wonderful Purple tea from 'Emrok'.
- Country of Origin: Kenya
- Grade: 1st Grade
- Altitude: 6500 feet above sea level
- Manufacture Type: Traditional (Green Tea Method)
- ORAC: Not yet measured. However, it's reasonable to assume it is slightly higher than green tea due to its extra anthocyanin antioxidants. We have therefore listed it as ~1300 (compared to green tea's ORAC of 1283) and are in discussions with different labs to try and get some precise measurements.
BREWING OUR TEAS
For the ultimate guide on how to brew our teas, read through this extensive blog post by Elizabeth.
SOURCING OUR TEAS
Read about how we ethically source our teas here.