1. What size are the tea samples?
Our Tea Trekker sample size is a generous 14 grams. We recommend using 2-3 grams of tea per each 6 ounce portion of water, so the sample will yield approximately 5-7 standard measures of dry leaf. Sample sizes are fun and will allow you to taste an unfamiliar tea before stocking-up, or experience a tea that you only want to have once-in-a-while. Samples are not a good value for everyday tea drinking. We hope you enjoy tasting new varieties of tea from authentic places of origin.
Tea Trekker packs your 14 gram sample(s) when your order is filled, at the same time your larger purchases of tea are packed. We pack samples in a small acetate packet so that we use a minimal amount of resource for this small amount of leaf. The tea will stay fresh for a short period of time while you investigate the new leaf. You will however want to use the sample size pack more quickly than our regular 3-ply zip lock bags.
Another way to procure a smaller amount of tea is to purchase the 2 oz size. Both 14-gram sample sizes and 2 oz sizes are charged at a small premium above the normal pricing used for the standard sizes at 4 oz and larger.
See Tea 101 - Steeping Tea for more steeping information.
2. Does the Price of Darjeeling Tea Increase Every Year?
The price of 100% pure Darjeeling teas normally goes up a little each year for a variety of reasons.
This is not something particular to Tea Trekker but to all tea vendors who purchase premium 100% pure Darjeeling 1st Flush and 2nd Flush teas each new season. We do our best to keep the prices as low as we can, and in some years we do not purchase teas that we have had in the past from certain tea gardens because the asking price is higher than we like.
But why the price increases?
- a. the prices are determined by the weather, which is responsible for how bountiful or not the seasonal crop is. Weather in Darjeeling, as in most tea producing countries, is being affected by global warming, which does not mean the weather is hotter there, but that it has become un-predictable and erratic. This year, for example, the 1st Flush harvest began later than usual because of very cold weather and a lack of rain in the crucial months of Jan, Feb and March. As a result, the yield of 1st Flush teas was delicious in flavor but small in quantity. Because of the delay in the 1st Flush harvest, the 2nd Flush teas had a shorter pluck time too before the weather became too hot for producing good leaf.
- b. worldwide demand, especially in the West for premium, 100% pure Darjeeling tea is greater than ever. At one time high demand came exclusively from Europe, but now sales in the US are bumping up demand. And when demand exceeds supply, the price goes up. No other tea on earth has the same crisp flavor and striking bouquet as Darjeeling tea. These characteristics are shaped and influenced by the unique terroir ( soil, weather and climate ) of the Himalaya zone where the Darjeeling tea gardens are located.
- c. last year, 100% pure Darjeeling tea was granted a protected product status from the European Union so that cheaper, fraudulent teas can no longer be sold in the marketplace as ‘Darjeeling’. This action is beginning to stem the reduction of less expensive teas (produced in Nepal and other Himalaya regions of India ) that in the past had duplicitously been sold as ‘Darjeeling’ tea. You can read more about why this action is a good thing on our Tea Trekker’s Blog. This is the link to that post: http://teatrekker.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/protected-origin-status-granted-to-darjeeling-tea/
- d. politics and issues of social justice have brought about increases in workers’ wages. Worker strikes and strikes against the tea factories from political groups looking to rally the tea garden workers to their cause have increased the price of the tea ex factory.
- e. many Darjeeling tea gardens are reducing pesticide use in response to demand for more organic or traditionally-grown teas, which is changing the customary yield and making cultivation in the fields more labor intensive than in the past.
All things considered, these price increases are small and we feel strongly that the seasonal, 100% pure Darjeeling teas that Tea Trekker selects from specific tea gardens and estates are a tremendous value and a much better alternative to generic, non-dated tea blends.
And, calculating the cost per cup of tea based on approximately 50 cups from a 4-ounce quantity of loose leaf tea, it places premium Darjeeling tea in the category of good value for money spent. For more economical purchases, please consider other excellent black teas that we have from Nepal and Sikkim.
3. Why do you say that chamomile and peppermint are not tea? My tea shop calls them tea.
We take a very traditional approach to tea selling and define tea in the classic sense. To us, tea consists of pure, unadulterated dried leaf and leaf buds of the Camellia sinensis plant, which includes:
- the three main Camellia sinensis varietals: Camellis sinensis var. sinensis ( small-leaf China bush); Camellia sinensis var. assamica ( large-leaf India bush); Camellia sinensis cambodi ( medium-leaf Java bush).
- all wild-growing and ancient tea trees and subsequent generations of indigenous tea bushes and tea trees naturally growing in southwest China, Laos, Myanmar ( Burma ), northern Thailand and northern Vietnam
- all Camellia sinensis cultivars developed in the 20th and 21st centuries
Tea is not made from the roots, stems, flowers, seeds, or the fruit of any other plant. While it is commonplace today to refer to non-caffeinated herbal beverages such as peppermint, chamomile, and lavender as ‘tea’ we believe that such beverages should be called by other more appropriate names, such as herbal tea, herbal infusions or tisanes.
4. Why don't you list the caffeine content of your teas?
Because, truthfully, this is not possible to do accurately. There are so many variables that affect the caffeine content of a particular tea that there is no one comprehensive or simple answer. Most of the information one reads online, in magazines and on websites suggests that one type of tea has more or less caffeine than another: ie. that green tea has less caffeine than white tea.Or is it the other way around? We have read both answers on the internet and are always dismayed at how misleading this kind of information must be.
These types of easily-dished-out inaccuracies suggests that each type of tea ( green, white, yellow, oolong, black and Hei Cha including Puerh) has an empirical amount of caffeine that is somehow constant or that will fluxuate by only a small degree. Most of these statements about caffeine content are just repeated from one source to another without any basis in truth.
What is true is that the amount of caffeine in any particular tea depends on many variables and particulars, most of which are impossible to know when shopping for tea, and least of which is about the type of tea in question. On our tea sourcing trips to China and other places in Asia, we have learned that the important variables are these:
a. The choice of leaf that is plucked partially determines the caffeine content of that leaf.
Buds and budsets often have more caffeine than larger leaves located further down on the branches of the tea bushes. This means that early spring plucked teas will, in most cases, contain more caffeine than teas plucked later in the season or the year. So, a spring plucked tea can and probably will have more caffeine than a summer plucked black tea. However, a black tea made from two leaves and a bud in the spring will probably have more caffeine than a country green tea plucked in the late spring or early summer.
b. The age of the plucked leaf has an influence on the amount of caffeine in the tea..
Tea made from younger leaves generally contains slightly more caffeine than tea made from older leaves.
c. Specific tea bush varietals and cultivars ( and there are hundreds of them ) have differing amounts of caffeine.
So, it is easy to see that the usual, definitive answers to this question are not good ones. Testing on tea can be done to determine caffeine content, but it is expensive and would need to be done to every new batch of any given tea as each new harvest brings change to the tea garden and the tea.
We tell our customers who ask that they should assume that all tea has roughly the same amount of caffeine. Those who believe that one type of tea 'agrees' with them better than another type of tea should follow the instincts of their bodies and stay with that tea. Everyone responds differently to the foods and drinks that we consume, so experiment and see what is right for you. Most adults tolerate the caffeine in several cups of tea a day quite well and enjoy both the taste and the alertness and sense of well-being that tea brings to them. Those who are sensitive to caffeine and need to avoid it (but still hope to find lower-caffeine choices among traditional teas) will need to experiement periodically with many teas to see which they find most tolerable.
5. Do You Wholesale Your Teas?
Unfortunately, we do not wholesale our tea. There are several reasons for this.
First, we only purchase the tea that we need for our customers. Most of our teas are shipped to us directly from the country of origin, which means that we have to act quickly when the samples arrive – most orders are placed the same day we receive & taste the samples.
Secondly, because we like to have as many seasonal teas as possible, we order in quantities that we project will last us for a season or a full year until the next crop of that tea that season is available again the following year. Often we sell-out of certain teas before the next season's crop is available. So we do not purchase extra quantities on speculation of wholesale interest.
We know that many restauants and cafes have an interest in the quality of our teas and have expressed interest in selling them. Perhaps in a few years time we will be able to bring over larger quantities of certain teas to split with others.