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FAQs

Why are herbal teas naturally caffeine-free?
What makes Salt Spring herbal teas different from other herbal teas?
I want to give tea as a gift but am not sure what the person likes. What do you recommend?
Why do we sell loose teas rather than tea in bags?
But what about the convenience of tea bags?
How do you make a cup of loose tea?
Do Salt Spring Herbals have medicinal properties?
How long will the teas stay fresh?
How many cups of tea does a bag make?

Why are herbal teas naturally caffeine-free?
Black, green and white teas are made from the dried and fermented leaves of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) which naturally contains caffeine. The processing intensifies the caffeine content in the dried tea leaves tea so that both black and green tea contain significant amounts of caffeine. - Herbal teas are made from herbs, fruits, spices, and plant materials such as leaves, bark and roots. Those plants do not contain caffeine and therefore the herbal teas made from them do not contain caffeine.

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What makes Salt Spring herbal teas different from other herbal teas?
The next time you look at tea-bagged tea (and even many loose herbal teas!), check the ingredient list. Most teas will list something like "flavoring oil," "natural aromas" or the like -- basically what that means is that since the tea itself has little aroma because it is either not fresh or cut too small, they have to rely on aroma oils and extracts to give the tea flavor. People are often disappointed by the taste of tea flavored with oils because while the oils smell very nice, they add little to the taste once the tea is brewed. That is why we have made the decision not use any flavoring oils or extracts in our herbals (we do use oil of bergamot in the Earl Grey black tea because that is what gives the tea its characteristic flavor, but that is our one and only flavored tea): our teas are truly "all natural", all plant materials and fruit (which we dehydrate ourselves), no flavorings!

We also use very special packaging for our teas: the majority of our bags and all our wooden boxes are individually handpainted, which makes each one unique and a little work of art. Some of our customers actually collect our wooden boxes and use them as decoration on their kitchen cabinets! And of course, our teas also make great gifts.

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I want to give tea as a gift but am not sure what the person likes. What do you recommend?
If your gift recipient is trying to stay away from caffeine, go with an herbal tea or maybe one of our very popular green and herbal blends, Moroccan Mint or Velvet Sunrise (herbals have no caffeine at all; the two green/herbal blends have some caffeine but very little compared to a cup of coffee: you would have to drink about 12 cups of our teas to get the caffeine contained in one regular cup of coffee!). Among the herbals, Lemon Sunset, a light lemony flavor without tartness is very popular, as is Moonlight Lavender, with a more pronounced floral taste. For people who like fruity teas, we recommend New England Memories, a very full-bodied, fruity, slightly tart tea, or Whale Watchers, a lighter, fruity tea with chamomile which our customers find very calming. And for people who like mint, our Secret Garden blend is hard to beat!

If caffeine is not an issue, try one of our black or green teas: English Breakfast is a perennial favorite of tea drinkers around the world; our Sir Francis is a nice strong assam for people who love strong black teas, whereas our Earl Grey with its distinct citrus note is more for people who like their teas flavored. Finally, our Emperor Shen is a pure green tea, and quite popular with people who enjoy green teas for their health benefits or their taste.

We also do custom gift baskets, if you'd like to include more than one tea. Give us a call and we'll be happy to talk to you to see what best fits your gift giving needs.

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Why do we sell loose teas rather than tea in bags?
There are two main reasons. One, the larger the pieces in your tea, the better the flavor (the smaller the pieces, the more of the aroma evaporates and you get less fruit and herb flavor and more "sawdust"; that's why most people are so surprised when they first taste our teas: they actually TASTE like something!).

The second issue is that loose tea leaves (whether green, black or herbal) give off much more flavor when they are floating, rather than being squeezed together in a bag. Thus, to get the best taste, you want large pieces, loose tea and fresh herbs, all of which is combined in our teas. -- The flipside of using large chunks in our tea is that it is next to impossible to find tea-bagging machines that accept pieces as large as ours, even if we wanted to squeeze them into a bag. So we focus on the taste and quality aspect and leave the ground dust in teabags to the tea companies in supermarkets.

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But what about the convenience of tea bags?
Yes, tea-bagged tea is convenient. But brewing a cup of loose tea is a lot less effort than most people think! There are a number of tools that make brewing loose tea just as easy as using a tea bag - with a lot better quality!

For people who like the throw-away convenience of a tea bag (people who want a cup of tea on the go, someone brewing tea at the office), we offer tea filters: basically the same type of filter paper which makes up a tea bag, only that the tea bag is stapled and ours is not! Our tea filters have a long flap which folds over the rim of the mug or the paper cup and makes the bag removal easy. Since these bags are much larger than a traditional tea bag, they allow the tea leaves to float and flavor the tea much better than tea made in a traditional bag, yet with the same convenience.

For people who make tea at home, a number of tea strainers are available. We usually recommend tea strainers such as bamboo traps or brew baskets over traditional smaller strainers such as the tea "eggs" because those tend to be too small to let tea leaves float freely and they tend to be a little messy to clean up. Our polymesh brew baskets are super easy: People can microwave their water (although teas do taste better when they are made with boiling water), throw a teaspoon of tea in the brew basket and after the tea steeps, they just rinse out the leaves, done! This takes maybe 2 seconds longer than throwing away the tea bag, but you gain a lot of quality by using loose teas.

Finally, there are specialized tea presses (similar to European coffee presses but made for tea) which will give you a superior brew. If you regularly drink tea you may want to invest in one of those.

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How do you make a cup of loose tea?
It's quite simple! For each cup of tea, use one teaspoon full of tea leaves, more if you you like your tea stronger, less if you like it weaker. For black teas and herbal teas, pour boiling water* over the tea leaves and let them steep. Each tea comes with its own brewing directions, but black teas are generally steeped between 3-5 minutes and herbals between 8-12 minutes. After the tea has steeped, pull out the brew basket/filter/tea ball or push down on the plunger of the tea press to keep the tea leaves from steeping longer.

Please note that green and white teas should be made with very hot but not boiling water - bring water to a boil and then let it cool for 5-10 seconds before you pour it onto the leaves. Green tea made with boiling water often becomes bitter and looses its sweetness.

* If you are making tea at the office and do not have access to boiling water, you can substitute very hot water from the faucet or microwave. The hotter the water, the better it will extract the flavor from the tea leaves.

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Do Salt Spring Herbals have medicinal properties?
FDA regulations do not allow us to make any medical claims. And our teas are blended for gourmet taste rather than healing properties. That said, it is of course widely known that certain herbs have medicinal properties. Lavender and chamomile, for instance, are well known as soothing, calming herbs and are part of many soothing night-time teas. Mint is said to soothe an upset stomach and a number of studies have been published over the last few years that show the beneficial qualities of black, green and white teas.

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How long will the teas stay fresh?
Our teas are double-bagged for freshness, to ensure a long shelf life without loss of quality. Shelf life varies depending on how and where teas are stored: heat and humidity shorten the shelf life of teas. It is best to store them in a cool, dry place. Generally, our teas stay fresh for 18 months, without loss of quality. Beyond that, there is really no "expiration" date, the tea will just not have quite as strong a flavor (i.e, you may need to use 1.5 or 2 teaspoons to get the same flavor you would previously have gotten with one teaspoon). It is not necessary to store our teas in the refrigerator or freezer; a regular kitchen cabinet will do fine. Since teas are susceptible to strong scents and aromas, try to store them either in the plastic bags inside the bags/boxes in which they came or in an airtight tin canister, away from strong-smelling spices.

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How many cups of tea does a bag make?
The product page for each tea will specify approximately how many cups of tea you will get from each pouch/bag/box. We measure our teas by weight rather than volume, so that teas with lots of dehydrated fruit or heavy spices will give you fewer cups than lighter teas. Generally, a pouch will make between 15-22 cups, a bag or box between 25-30 for black or green teas and between 35-45 for herbals. You may get more or fewer cups depending on how strong you like your tea and how large the cup is that you're using (i.e., a 6-oz dainty china tea cup vs. the 16 oz. big gulp breakfast mug…).

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.

The Salt Spring Tea Co.
70 Ohio Ave Ext.
Norwalk, CT 06851
1-800-551-6519 toll free
203-847-1811 phone

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