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117 Galisteo St
Santa Fe, NM 87501

505-795-7724

Luxury loose leaf teas, handcrafted tea blends and fine tea ware. ArtfulTea: where the ordinary experience of drinking tea becomes extraordinary.

Tea Wisdom

Himalayan Tea

Nick Rose

Every corner of the world is infused with its own unique tea traditions. The area surrounding the Himalayas -- the world’s tallest mountain range -- gets very cold thanks to the altitude, so naturally, hot tea is a major part of everyone’s daily routine. In Tibet especially, butter is added to the tea to add a potent one-two punch of energy and calories that perfectly preps the drinker for a day’s work in the unforgiving climate.

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You’re probably familiar with bulletproof coffee, a potent blend of coffee, coconut oil and butter, beloved by everyone from celebrities to those training for marathons. The rich beverage often serves as a meal replacement, and the binding oils help to release the caffeine slowly throughout the day, so energy is sustained and the drink doesn’t experience a crash.

Himalayan-style butter tea has the same effect and was created with the same idea in mind. Traditionally, the tea is made with yak butter, but it’s easy to replicate the drink right here at home using butter made from cow’s milk. In Tibet, the tea is made in large, heavily-concentrated batches in advance, so water and butter can be added throughout the week, but if you’re making it at home, simply steep it to your preferred level of strength, and stir in butter and salt while it’s still hot.

The area surrounding the Himalayas in rich in various types of native teas, and in addition to the black tea used in the recipe above, green tea is popular as well. Our Himalayan Spring Green Tea is bright and refreshing at any time of year, and is delicious hot or iced - no butter required.

Masala Chai

Nick Rose

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How many times have you approached the counter at your favorite cafe and ordered a chai tea? Given that it’s popular year-round and is delicious both hot and iced, we’re guessing quite a bit. But here’s a fact that will stop you from ever saying “chai tea” again: the word “chai” actually means “tea” in several different Eurasian languages, so you’re technically ordering a “tea tea.”

What you know as chai is technically called masala chai, a blend of fragrant herbs, spices and black tea originating in India. That country is the home of Ayurvedic medicine, so many of the spices and herbs found in Masala chai are known for their healing properties as well as their flavor profiles. The chai lattes served at cafes are often made with heavily-sweetened, concentrated masala chai, but it’s easy to make authentic and traditional chai right at home with loose tea.

Like all teas, masala chai is easy to personalize. Traditionally, it’s made using a blend of water and whole milk, but can be replaced with coconut milk, almond milk or, if you prefer a non-creamy beverage, even water. To make it, simply simmer the loose tea blend with your preferred mix of milk and water, and strain out the loose tea when it’s steeped to perfection. No special tools necessary, just an ordinary strainer that you probably have in your kitchen already!

The unique blend of spices used make masala right at home in every season: rose and ginger are brisk and refreshing, perfect for warmer weather, while nutmeg and clove lend a traditional autumn flavor to the tea. Together, the unmistakable and unique flavor will prep you for relaxation and reflection.

Irish Breakfast Tea

Nick Rose

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Morning: It’s the start of a brand-new day, and you never know what opportunities are waiting for you until you take it on. Get the energy you need to shake things up by stepping out of the coffee zone and trying something different. Even if you’re not usually a tea drinker, you’ve probably heard of English Breakfast Tea, one of the most popular and versatile black tea blends available.

Irish Breakfast, however, is ideal for those of you who need that extra caffeine jolt to get you going in the morning. It’s one of the strongest black tea blends, both in terms of flavor of stimulation, and so it’s traditionally served with cream and sugar. There’s no right or wrong way to drink it, though, so if you like your coffee black, chances are good that you’ll enjoy Irish Breakfast Tea on its own as well.

This popular blend is made by both companies large and small, and can often be found in convenient teabags. We’re partial to loose-leaf, though, since it allows us the opportunity to select the best-quality whole tea leaves and buds so that every cup is sensational.

We use a traditional blend of black teas, including Irish Breakfast’s star, Assam. It’s a strong, tropically-sourced tea that is known not only for its wake-up qualities but also for its rich color: it helps to lend every cup of Irish Breakfast tea its beautiful, dark red color. Of course, the best companion for a cup of this tea is a full Irish breakfast - complete with bacon, eggs, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. Now THAT’S a lucky way to start the day!

Earl Grey Tea

Nick Rose

Just like a white tee or the perfect pair of jeans, a good-quality Earl Grey is an essential. No matter the size or theme of your tea collection, this timeless classic is one you’ll reach for again and again, both for everyday and for more formal occasions. Chances are good that you’re already familiar with the tea’s delicate, elegant flavor, but how much do you really know about Earl Grey?

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Named for Charles Grey, a 19th-century Earl and British Prime Minister who received a tea flavored with bergamot oil as a gift in 1833, the beverage has had aristocratic associations from the very start. In fact, recent surveys taken in Britain show that the vast majority of citizens think that the tea is the most posh variety available.

After the tea’s initial appearance at diplomatic parties, dinners and events, it became such a highly-requested and sought-after flavor that tea giant Twinings began to produce in massive quantities, a trend that hasn’t let up and in fact, continues to grow. Earl Grey flavored ice cream, shortbread, candy, lattes, and even craft cocktails are popular, and any high-end hotel’s afternoon tea service is bound to offer Earl Grey - along with cream, sugar, and photogenic sweets and hors d'oeuvres.

Smaller artisanal tea companies are producing their own versions as well, always working to perfect the subtle, floral taste. Bergamot oil originates in a type of sweet orange peel, resulting in the soft citrus flavor infused with floral hints. And there are more options available today than ever before. If floral teas are what you love the most, you can get Earl Grey infused with jasmine and rose, and a summery varietal called Russian Earl Grey ups to citrusy ante by adding a dash of lemongrass. Though it’s most popular in black teas, bergamot flavoring can be added to green and white teas as well. Not into caffeine? Herbal tea - especially South African rooibos - can be infused with bergamot for that elegant and familiar taste, just as good plain as it is sweetened with honey or sugar and a dollop of cream.

Enjoy!

Yunnan Black Tea

Nick Rose

Yunnan black tea, also called Dianhong tea, is a gourmet black tea grown in the Yunnan province of China. Yunnan is a bit lighter, sweet-smelling and less astringent than typical black teas, with a rich, malty flavor and a brassy orange color when it’s brewed.

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Yunnan black tea is a relatively new innovation within the ancient tradition of Chinese tea-making, with its production beginning in the early 20th century.

Yunnan black is considered a high-end, gourmet tea in China. The main difference between Yunnan black tea leaves and other tea leaves are the high numbers of golden-tipped leaf buds in the dried tea. Yunnan black is made from large, high-quality tea leaves, and the finest varieties of Yunnan black are processed through partial oxidation but without chopping the leaves, to minimize bitterness.

Yunnan tea should be steeped in water cooked to just below the boiling point, between 195 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other black teas, it can be taken with milk and sugar, though its flavor is also soft enough to be enjoyed alone.

Mate Tea

Nick Rose

Known as “Drink of the Gods” or “Drink of Friendship,” mate tea (or yerba mate) is a caffeine-rich infusion of tea leaves and stems from a type of holly plant known as llex paraguariensis, from the subtropical forests of South America. First discovered and prepared by the indigenous Guarani people, Mate is is grown in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

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Mate is extremely popular in South America: it is the official drink of Argentina, and is also widely consumed in Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil. It is also very popular in Syria, which is the world’s leading importer of Mate, and Lebanon.

Mate is known for producing the energy and mental alertness of other caffeinated drinks, but without side effects like nervousness, stomach-aches or addiction. For this reason, there is a widely-held belief that mate contains not caffeine but a different stimulant referred to as “matteine,” although mate is in fact caffeinated (it has less caffeine than coffee, but more than most teas).

Mate is said to produce the energy of coffee, the calmness of tea, and the euphoria of the natural chocolate, cacao. It is shade-grown, and its dark leaves contain even more antioxidants than green tea. Mate is also rich in vitamins and minerals, and is known for promoting good digestion and heart health.

Mate is traditionally prepared in a wide, rounded cup known as a gourd, and drunk through a metal straw known as a bombilla. It is traditionally enjoyed in a social setting of family or friends, who pass around the same gourd of steeped, and re-steeped, Mate.

The tea is prepared by filling the gourd about half to three-quarters full with mate tea; the gourd is then turned upside-down, and with a hand covering the top, shaken vigorously for about five seconds. The purpose of the shaking is to move the smallest tea leaf fragments to the top of the gourd, to avoid drinking pieces of leaf (for drinking, the bombilla has a small filter that allows liquid to enter but not the leaves, although tiny leaf fragments might get through if not shaken from the bottom).

After shaking, the gourd is turned upright and hot water is added to the infusion -- water should be 160-180 degrees, hot but below simmering temperature. Now the mate is ready to drink; typically, one person drinks a full cup of mate, then water is added to the infusion again, and the tea is passed to the next person. Often mate drinkers will store hot water in a thermos to continue adding to their mate blend.

Matcha Green Tea

Nick Rose

Grown and produced in Japan, Matcha is a powdered green tea derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. To make Matcha tea, the leaves are grown in the shade during the final few weeks leading up to processing. After the leaves are harvested, all veins and stems are removed before the leaves are stone-ground into a green powder.

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The shade growing of Matcha increases chlorophyll and produces a darker tea leaf with higher caffeine levels and more amino acids, particularly theanine. As theanine is a relaxing amino acid, the combination of theanine and caffeine is known to produce a state of both mental alertness and calmness. Matcha green tea has a subtle but deep, slightly sweet flavor dominated by its amino acids. It is highly rich in antioxidants and other nutrients.

Though it has endured as a product of Japan, the earliest preparations of Matcha tea were developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). When the monk Eisai brought Buddhism to Japan in the 12th century, he also brought the Chinese method for preparing Matcha green tea. The ritualized use of matcha by Japanese monks grew quickly, and by the 15th century its popularity had spread to Japan’s upper classes. As Japan honed its methods for producing Matcha, in China its popularity declined; today, Matcha Tea is known primarily as a legacy of Japan.

In Japanese, “Cha” means tea and “ma” means powder, so the word “matcha” is literally translated to powdered tea.

Preparation of a cup of Matcha tea is a little different than with loose leaf teas. To prepare, put one-half to one teaspoon of Matcha powder into a bowl. Then add two ounces of simmering water -- do not let the water reach a full boil. Briefly stir the contents, then vigorously whisk (using a regular wire whisk if fine, though many recommend a bamboo whisk) until the water becomes foamy. Enjoy your Matcha.

Pu-erh Tea

Nick Rose

Organic Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh is an aged and fermented tea known in China as a type of “heicha,” meaning dark or black tea. In China, what we know as “black tea” is actually referred to as “red tea,” while fermented teas like Pu-erh are dark teas. Pu-erh tea is produced with leaves from the camellia sinensis plant in the Yunnan province of China, and named after the city of Pu-erh.

Like wine, Pu-erh is stored to age before consumption, and typically labeled with the time and place of production. Pu-erh that has been aged for many decades and can sell for thousands of dollars a pound.

Most teas go through a process of oxidation, but few are truly fermented by bacteria and yeast the way Pu-erh is. Fermentation occurs by storing the tea in a humid environment, over a time period of weeks to years.

The fermentation of Pu-erh produces a tea with an earthy flavor and low astringency, along with certain unique health benefits. Pu-erh tea is particularly good for aiding digestion and, because its fermentation produces natural statins, lowering blood pressure.

One signature of Pu-erh is that, after fermentation, the leaves are sometimes formed into neat shapes before packaging – such as cakes, bricks, mushrooms or flat squares pressed with Chinese characters. Pu-erh is often processed as a loose leaf tea as well. (ArtfulTea generally offers our Pu-erh teas in leaf form to make it easier for you to prepare and enjoy.)

Traditionally, Pu-erh is prepared by “rinsing” the leaves in hot water before brewing the tea to drink. First, pour boiling water over the leaves for a few seconds, then drain the water (this first step cleans the leaves and begins to unlock their flavor). Next, steep the leaves for one to five minutes and enjoy. Most Pu-erh teas can be infused multiple times. The same leaves might even be steeped up to eight times.

Ti Kuan Yin Tea

Nick Rose

Ti Kuan Yin -- also spelled “Tieguanyin” -- is a type of oolong tea from eastern China notable fo its orchid-like flavor and complex process of production. Fragrant and tasty, Ti Kuan Yin tea is said to be China’s most famous and beloved oolong.

Ti Kuan Yin Tea

Cultivated at high altitudes in the cool mountain air of China’s Fujian province, tea leaves that will be made into Ti Kuan Yin are processed using more than a dozen steps including oxidation, tossing, tight rolling and roasting.

When steeped, the dark, curly leaves of Ti Kuan Yin lighten and unfurl, unleashing their flowery aroma and taste. The brewed tea has a golden yellow color and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Ti Kuan Yin is an excellent source of sustained energy, both for its moderate caffeine content and high levels of vitamins, amino acids and antioxidant-containing polyphenols.

The name Tieguanyin is a reference to the Chinese “Iron Goddess of Mercy,” Guanyin, who is the female embodiment of the bodhisattva. 

Tea Oxidation

Nick Rose

When we think of food and oxidation, usually the idea conjures something undesirable: browning fruit or withered lettuce, for example. However, a process of controlled oxidation is crucial to unlocking the flavor, color, caffeine and nutritional content of most teas.

Oxidation is a process whereby tea leaves are dried and browned through exposure to the air, which opens their flavors and aromas by unlocking certain molecular compounds. Generally speaking, the longer a leaf is allowed to oxidize, the stronger the tea. The leaves of black teas are made using a relatively long process of oxidation, while green teas undergo a much shorter one.

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Tea leaves begin to oxidize as soon as they are plucked, and some teas are processed simply by letting the leaves be exposed to air for a period of time. Other oxidizing methods entail rolling, tumbling or macerating the leaves first in order to intensify or accelerate the oxidation. These methods work by breaking the cell walls within the leaves,  allowing oxygen to enter more freely.

Tea oxidation is typically performed at temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While higher temperatures and a humid environment can increase oxidation, much higher temperatures (140 degrees and above) will actually halt the process by deactivating the enzymes that cause it.

After a batch of leaves are sufficiently oxidized, tea producers use a technique called “fixing” that involves steaming, baking or pan-firing the leaves to stop the oxidation process.

Fixing takes skill because the leaves need to be heated sufficiently but not overheated, which can curtail their flavor. In order to keep tea fresh, it should be stored in an airtight container, away from light, moisture, and heat.

Rooibos Tea

Nick Rose

Rooibos (a Dutch word that means “red bush”) is an herb from South Africa’s Western Cape region. When made into tea, Rooibos is non-caffeinated and has a rich, almost sweet flavor.

The name “Rooibos” comes from the reddish-brown color that the leaves take on when they are oxidized with heat. However, there is also a green Rooibos that is made when the leaves are lightly steamed but do not undergo a full process of oxidization. Green Rooibos tea is more difficult to produce than regular Rooibos, and has a milder flavor.

Rooibos tea is made from the needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus Linearis plant, which grows in a mountainous region near the South African Atlantic coast. Owing to the unique climate and soil conditions of the region, the Aspalathus Linearis is extremely difficult to grow in other places. Rooibos has been enjoyed for many generations in South Africa, which continues to be its premier exporter around the world.

Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, compared with black and green teas Rooibos is very low in bitter-tasting Tannins.  Many Rooibos teas are also deliciously blended with spices, flowers and fruit.

While steeping some teas too long can produce a flavor that’s overly strong or bitter, as an herbal tea Rooibos is easy to prepare and won’t become bitter with longer brewing. Using water that’s brought to a full boil,  steep a teaspoon of Rooibos for every 6 to 8 ounces of water for at least five minutes to maximize its aromatic flavor.

View ArtfulTea's collection of luxury loose leaf rooibos tea

White Tea

Nick Rose

White tea is made from the buds and immature leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, all of them plucked before the leaves have a chance to fully open and dry in the sun. Its name is derived from the fine white downy hairs that are found on the leaves.

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What differentiates white tea from other teas is both that it is made from younger leaves and that the tea leaves undergo very little or no treatment in the form of rolling or oxidization. As a result, white tea tends to be the lightest-tasting and lowest-caffeinated tea. Of all the teas, it also has the highest concentration of the immue bolstering antioxidants known as catechins.

Pleasant and subtle, brewed white tea actually has a pale yellow color. It has been well known in China for many centuries (in ancient China, its consumption was restricted to members of royalty), though not until the 1900’s was it really enjoyed overseas. Even today it remains the hidden gem of the tea world, growing in popularity yet still unknown to many consumers.

White teas are delicate, and optimal preparation involves steeping the tea in water that is steaming but just below a boil (175-180 degrees). However, because of its light flavor, you can steep the tea for a bit longer than green tea -- generally for up to three minutes.

Browse ArtfulTea’s selection of Luxury Loose Leaf White Tea

THE BASICS OF BLACK TEA

Nick Rose

Where Black tea Comes From

Black, green, oolong, and white teas all originate from the same source, the Camellia Sinensis plant. However, it is both the kind of camellia sinensis and how the leaves are processed that determines what type of tea we end up with. Black tea typically derives from the camellia sinensis assamica plant which is grown in subtropical climates, often at higher elevations.

 

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How black tea is processed

After a tea leaf is plucked, it is transferred to a processing area where the leaves are carefully withered to achieve the right moisture content and to allow for the development of flavor. The leaves may be rolled to remove extra water content so that they can begin to oxidize. During this process, the leaves blacken and develop flavor. Once this is complete, the tea is tasted, packaged, and shipped!

 

General Guidelines for Black Tea Preparation:

Use 1 level teaspoon per 6 oz. water. Heat water to boiling. Steep for 2 - 4 minutes. For best taste, do not over steep. Black tea leaves can usually handle a second infusion, and sometimes even a third.

Browse ArtfulTea’s selection of Luxury Loose Leaf Black Tea
 

Preparing the Perfect Cup of Tea: How long to steep tea

Nick Rose

Everyone has their own ideas about how long to steep tea, but the main rule is not to "stew" the tea by letting the leaves steep forever, resulting in a bitter, unpleasant drink. Beyond that, feel free to modify these suggestions to suit your taste.

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Black tea – usually steep for 3 - 5 minutes.

Green tea – generally, steep no more than 2 minutes. Many will taste best after only one minute (note: if you think you don't like green tea, it may be because you've only had it after it steeped far too long).

Oolong – steep about 2 minutes (most oolongs can be infused multiple times).

White tea – steep about 3 minutes, unless it's flavored (in which case you may want to steep it for a shorter time). White teas can also be infused more than once.

Herbal, Rooibos and Mate – steep for 5 minutes or longer. Because these "infusions" don't contain any tea (see "Types of Tea: Herbal Infusions"), they won't get bitter when steeped longer and often the benefits of the herbs are maximized by steeping for about 10 minutes.

Preparing the Perfect Cup of Tea: Amount of Tea

Nick Rose

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It can vary by tea, but generally you'll be safe with these guidelines.  For a standard mug (which usually holds 10 to 12 ounces), you'll just double the amount recommended for a 6 oz. cup. If you're using a teapot, it's a good idea to measure how many ounces it holds.

Black tea, Green, Oolong and Rooibos – use one level teaspoon per 6 oz. of water

Herbal tea – use a heaping teaspoon per 6 oz. of water

White tea – use two teaspoons per 6 oz. of water

Preparing the Perfect Cup of Tea: Water Temperature

Nick Rose

The temperate of the water when you pour it over the leaves really affects the way tea tastes. You'll want to use the best quality water available and always start with fresh water (so please don't reheat previously boiled water as it will taste flat).

Earl Grey Green Tea

Black tea, Herbal or Rooibos  – heat water to a full boil (212° or lower depending on your elevation)

Oolong tea – heat water until just off the boil (approximately 195°)

Green or White tea – heat water until "steaming briskly" but not boiling (approximately 175-180°)

Mate – heat water until steaming but not boiling (approximately 150° - 160°)

If the water has already reached a boil but you want it cooler, you can wait a few moments until the temperature comes down a bit and then pour it.

Types of Tea: Herbal Infusions

Nick Rose

Atomic Gold Organic Herbal Tea

Herbal tea is really not "tea" at all. It is more properly called an "infusion" or a "tisane" – but you nearly always see it referred to as "tea". It contains no part of the camellia sinensis plant, but is made entirely from herbs, flowers, berries, spices or leaves. Because there is no "tea" in it, it has no caffeine.

Rooibos is also an herbal infusion. It comes from a plant that is native to South Africa, where it has been enjoyed for centuries. It has no caffeine and is very high in antioxidants.

Mate is an herbal infusion that, strangely enough, contains a "caffeine-like" compound that creates an effect much like caffeine does. It is native to South America and was traditionally used by people of the Andes to keep them warm and alert.

Types of Tea: Camellia Sinensis

Nick Rose

You can see from our tea collection that there are several types of tea. Black, Green, White and Oolong teas all come from the same plant: the camellia sinensis (cousin to the garden camellia). Each tea looks and tastes different because of the way the leaves are processed.

Camellia Sinensis Tea

Black tea leaves have been fully fermented (or oxidized), giving them their robust flavor and their higher level of caffeine.

Green tea has had little or no fermentation (oxidation) and has less caffeine than Black tea. It can vary from quite mellow in flavor to more "grassy" tasting.

Oolong is somewhere between Black and Green tea. It has had just enough fermentation for a darker exterior while the interior remains green, giving it a wonderfully complex flavor. Depending on how much oxidation has occurred, Oolongs will vary on a spectrum from almost green to almost black. They are sometimes described as "orchid-like" in taste.

White tea is made from only the tea plant's newest "downy" leaves. It has not been fermented at all but merely dried, so you'll often see little white hairs or down on the leaves. White tea has a very subtle flavor, and minimal caffeine.

Storing loose leaf tea

Nick Rose

Organic English Breakfast Tea

Tea is susceptible to air, moisture, light and heat. If exposed to any of these elements for even a fairly short time, tea will begin to degrade. The most effective way to keep your tea fresh is to use a storage container that is tightly sealed against air and moisture, and also keeps all light out. A tea tin is ideal, but it must have a tight fitting lid. A ceramic canister is also fine, again as long as the lid is snug. Glass containers are usually not the best choice because they allow light in. Whatever container you choose, be sure not to store it near heat (such as a stove) or in a window where it will bake in the sun.

We package ArtfulTea in bags or tins. The bags are specially made, three-ply bags that keep moisture, air and light out as long as they are properly closed. Your tea will be fine in one of these bags for several months. ArtfulTea is also available in reusable tins (with a special, snug lid!) for more permanent tea storage. Consider ordering your first batch of ArtfulTea in the tin, and when you re-order choose bags for decanting into the tin!

How Long Does Tea Last?

Karen Gardiner

darjeeling black tea

Good quality tea is going to be drinkable for about a year from the time it is harvested and processed. However, since all tea is imported and transit times can vary, by the time the tea reaches you it may already be a few months old. It's a good idea to try to use your tea supply within about six months if you want to be sure it's fresh. If it takes you a year to use it, it will probably still taste okay, although you may be able to tell a slight difference in flavor.  (And, really, life is too short to drink bad tea! So drink it sooner than later.)