Tea FAQs

Answers to FAQ’s on Chinese Tea, from Canton Tea leading UK specialist in fine China Tea. Tea varieties; how to brew; choosing teaware, tea and health, flavoured teas, water temperature, cost per cup, storage advice from Canton Tea.

Canton Tea Flowering Chinese tea


Why choose Canton Tea Co?


Here’s why:

  • We specialise only in high-end, whole-leaf tea from China and Taiwan.
  • We buy direct so we can guarantee quality and authenticity.
  • We are the only tea company to have full time buying partners in China and Taiwan.
  • We know the provenance of our tea, how it was grown, picked and processed.
  • We offer you an outstanding personal service.


What’s different about your tea?


The taste, the incredible range of flavours that skilled Chinese Tea makers can wring from the simple leaf of tea is a wonderful thing.


Is Green Tea good for you?


Probably: Green Tea contains compounds that some studies have shown to reduce risk of certain diseases, but nothing has been conclusively proven.


Can Green Tea help you lose weight?


Not on its own. The Chinese believe that Puerh Tea in particular can help with weight loss but there is no direct proof. Tea without milk contains no calories so it will help you lose weight, if you drink it instead of sweet fizzy drinks, alcohol or



How much caffeine does tea contain?


It varies for each tea. All teas from the Camelia Sinensis plant contain caffeine. The only teas that don't contain caffeine are herbal tissanes, e.g. Chamomile, Peppermint, which are strictly speaking, not 'tea'.


Do you sell flavoured tea?


As a rule, no. Teas scented or sprayed with artificial flavourings are generally inferior. We only sell natural tea leaves, whose flavours derive from the terroir, Tea varietal, processing style and the skill of teamakers. There are some exceptions: our Jasmine Pearls and Jasmine Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) are naturally flavoured with fresh jasmine petals. and our Flowering Teas are made with natural osmanthus, jasmine, globe amaranth and lily petals. 


Do you sell herbal and fruit teas?


We have recently introduced a selection of Herbal Tissanes to our range. These are not strictly tea, as they are not grown from the Camelia Sinensis. However, they are leaves, flowers or fruit from which hot or cold beverages can be made. As they are not actually tea, they are naturally caffeine free and thus are great to drink even late into the evening. 


What is the difference between the various tea types?


All our Teas come from different varietals of the same plant – Camellia Sinensis. The difference between White, Green, Oolong, Black and Puerh Teas is largely an effect of variations in the processing style of each tea. Learn more at Canton Tea School

Chinese Tea Growing and picking


Why is Tea so expensive?


Our authentic, whole leaf, Chinese Tea is a genuine artisan product, made by hand by small producers, according to traditions that go back thousands of years. Whole leaf tea can be infused several times, which means that the price per cup is actually quite reasonable: 7p - 30p per cup (US10cents to 40cents). Not bad for a unique and healthy taste experience?


How do you brew it?


It’s not hard to brew if you remember two key points:

1. Temperature: Avoid pouring boiling water directly onto the leaves. In particular, use cooler water to brew White, Green and Jasmine Teas.

2. Timing: Don’t let your leaves sit steeping for too long, as this will leach out all the flavour. A series of relatively short infusions will allow you to appreciate the changing flavours of the leaves.


You’ll find a quick brewing guide to every tea on the Canton Tea site and you can learn more on the Tea brewing how to guide.


How much is it per cup?


We estimate that most of the teas we sell work out at between 7p - 30p per cup (US10cents to 40cents). Remember to infuse them more than once to get the most out of the leaves. You can even leave the drained leaves overnight and infuse them the next morning.

Ceramic Tea Tasting CupWhat sort of cup should I use?


You can use a range of vessels to infuse your tea: a normal Western-style tea or coffee mug works fine for Oolongs, a tall glass works well for Greens and Whites. If you are making tea Gong Fu style, you may want to use a Gaiwan or some small yixing or porcelain tasting cups. For most teas, a good teapot or glass infuser combined with any relatively small, thin-walled porcelain cup works fine.


What water should I use to brew?


For best results, you should use pure spring water (ideally, from the same area where your tea was grown!), although this may not be practical. Filtered tap water is fine, as are some bottled mineral waters – the best are those with a pH of just under 7 and a medium mineral content. Avoid very mineralized, very hard or very soft (distilled) water.


What water temperature should I use?


This depends on the tea: generally the darker the tea, the hotter the water. Green and White teas need to be brewed with cooler water. Learn more on the Tea brewing how to guide.


How much tea should I use?


This depends on the type of tea you are using, the size of your infuser and your personal preference. In general we recommend 1 teaspoon per serving of the more compact, dense teas such as greens, Silver Needle (Yin Zhen) and rolled Oolongs and 1 tablespoon per serving of the more open massy styles such as White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) or Dan Cong Teas. It’s best to experiment to find the way. You’ll find specific recommendations for every tea on the Canton Tea site.


How long can I store it for?


As long as you keep them in an airtight container in a cool dark place, Green and White Teas should last for twelve to eighteen months. Oolongs and Blacks should last longer, up to 2 years. Puerh improves with age and is often kept for 10 years or more.


How do I store it?


In an airtight container in cool dark place ideally. Puerh is the exception to this rule as it needs mild airflow to encourage the maturing process. See more information here.


Does your tea have organic certification?


Most of our tea is certified as organic in China but this certification is not yet recognized in the UK. This is changing but, given that most tea is produced in remote small farms, it is difficult to see how any organisation can claim to enforce international organic standards. We rely on the expert palates of our buyers to detect any impurities in the tea – because they can.

Tea Growers in Wan Shan Taiwan


Is your tea fair-trade?


We do not have fair trade certification because it is not something that is yet recognised in China. The fine Chinese Tea market is however inherently fair trade, because production is limited and local demand so strong. Often, we buy on allocation from very small producers and they set the price. The tea is picked and processed by professional tea farmers.


How do you make iced tea?


You can make iced Tea very easily: simply make a pot of normal tea, allow it to cool and put it in the fridge. You can serve with a couple of ice cubes but beware, your ice cubes can be tainted with food odours from your freezer.

You can also cold brew tea by slowly steeping the leaves in cold water overnight and some prefer this method.

You can also add sugar, honey, ginger, lemon, fruit juice (especially peach) and fresh berries.


Can I cook with your tea?


Yes, you can find some recipes for tea smoked duck, Green Tea ice-cream, and more on the web. Our friend Skye Gyngell, world class chef at Petersham Nurseries, recently collaborated with Canton Tea on a cooking with tea workshop. Find out more here:



Why should I use Piao i or other glass infuser?


A Piao i Tea infuser is a great way to brew China Tea for many reasons:

The plastic infusing chamber allows very accurate control of the steeping time.

The push button release mechanism allows a very quick ‘pour’ of the tea.

Tea leaves are preserved by being fully drained, but not steeping, so can be re-infused many times.

Chinese Yi Xing Ceramic Teapot


Why should I use a Yixing Teapot?


A good Yixing Teapot is a pleasure to own - beautiful to look at, hold and use. They are also considered by many to be the best way to brew good Oolongs and Puerh Teas in a Gong Fu style. A Yixing Teapot makes it easy to infuse tea over multiple quick infusions. The special Zisha clay absorbs the flavours of the tea you brew in it and improves the taste of future infusions.


How do I contact you?


We are proud of our personal service: you can call us to discuss our tea, your order, or anything else on 0845 519 5575.

You can email the founders of Canton Tea Co with any comments or questions you may have on: