Frequently Asked Questions

What is tea?

Tea is a beverage produced from the infusion in boiling water of processed leaves from the plant camellia sinensis. In most languages the word for tea is derived either from the Mandarin Chinese word ‘cha’ or the Fujianese dialect ‘te’.

The Chinese discovered some five thousand years ago that this plant could produce a wide range of flavours and characteristics. These variants are achieved by growing the plants in different soils and climates and at different altitudes just like the vine. Indeed, many tea varieties are often compared to fine wines.
Left uncultivated, the tea plant – which is really a tree – would reach a height of around nine metres, but to ensure ease of plucking it is pruned to waist height.
The plant is ready for plucking after three to five years, depending on altitude, and the top bud of the bush and the adjacent tender leaves are plucked.

Where does tea come from?

All tea comes from the same plant – Camellia sinensis – and is grown all over the world where conditions are suitable, however, most green tea comes from Eastern China.

What are the different types of tea?

There are many ways of categorising tea, mainly by its colour ie. black, green, oolong and white. Within these broad groups are endless variations based on country of origin, estate location, altitude, specie of tea bush, manufacturing processes etc. The teas in the Twinings range all have their own individual characteristics as described on pack and are differentiated by colour, country and manufacturing process.
Green tea, which is unoxidised and likened to white wine.
Oolong, which is partially oxidised and likened to rosé.
Black tea, which is fully oxidised and likened to red wine.
White tea, which is the rarest and most delicate of tea.
White tea represents the least processed form of tea.

How is tea processed?

The leaves are plucked and processed as quickly as possible by first withering (reducing moisture by spreading the leaves out on troughs), rolling (to shape the leaves), oxidation (turns the leaves from green to brown – not applicable for green tea), firing (application of heat to arrest the oxidation process and ensure the leaf is dry enough to be packed), sieving (grades the leaf by size & removes excess fibre.)

How do I brew the perfect cup of black tea?

Follow these simple steps to ensure that the tea you serve is perfect every time.
1. Only use freshly drawn cold water, ensure that kettles or water boilers are de-scaled regularly and that teapots are spotlessly clean.
2. Teapots should be warmed with hot water, which is then poured away.
3. Use the recommended number of tea bags or one teaspoon of loose tea per cup. For one person use a 300mL tea pot, for two persons a 600mL tea pot is recommended.
4. Water should always be freshly boiled and boiling when added to black tea.
5. Leave to brew for 3-5 minutes before serving. Stir before serving.
6. Pour a little milk into each cup before pouring the tea through a strainer if necessary, and sweeten as required.

What is the difference between loose-leaf teas and the tea in a tea bag?

The main difference is in the size of leaf. Loose-leaf tea is unable to be packed into regular teabags due to its initial size and the swelled size of the infused leaf, which can burst the bags. Other than this, at Twinings we try to ensure that the loose-leaf and teabag variants of a blend are sourced from the same tea type, but of a different leaf size. The smaller leaf has a larger relative surface area and tends to brew more quickly making it ideal for teabags.

What is the optimal water temperature to make black tea?

Water should always be freshly boiled and boiling when added to tea.

How should I prepare green tea?

As the flavour of green tea is more delicate than that of its black counterpart, the water used should be first boiled and then allowed to cool slightly, ideally to approx. 85 - 90°C. Other than this the preparation is the same.

What is a "tea ceremony"?

A ceremony originally developed by Buddhist monks as a way of staying awake during meditation. The ritual was at its height of popularity between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ceremony's greatest exponent was Sen Rikyú.

What are the best teas to drink with milk & sugar?

If you like to add milk and sugar, choose a black tea (you should never add milk to green tea.) Often the stronger blends like Assam, English Breakfast and Traditional Afternoon are better with milk but if your personal preference is for weaker tea then most black tea will be suitable.

What are the best kinds of tea?

This is very subjective and depends on personal preference. Those teas generally acknowledged to be the finest are usually grown at high altitude, hand-plucked finely (i.e. 2 leaves + bud or less), and often from the first flush (i.e. the first new growth of the season.) In terms of taste and appearance: teas that are bright with a lively flavour are often considered to be preferable, however, this is not necessarily true for every type of tea.

What does ‘Flush’ mean and how do they differ?

A ‘flush’ is new growth of tea on the tea bushes. “Flushes” differ depending on the area that the tea is produced. In China and India there are two main flushes, the first of which occurs in March/April time and the second in May/June time. The first flush usually has a much more pungent taste as it contains much more of the sap which has built up over the dormant winter months whereas the second flush is flavoursome but more rounded.

Why is some tea so expensive?

Tea is purchased on a supply and demand basis, which determines the worth of each individual lot of tea. Some top quality teas are hand-made in extremely small quantities making the cost of production and therefore the value very high. The cost of production and quality varies widely according to country and area.

What is the significance of the elevation at which tea is grown?

Elevation can influence the final character of a tea, the flavour is often more delicate the higher the altitude however quality tea can be grown at any altitude above sea level.

Gluten and Wheat Levels in Tea?

ALL of our teas and infusions are suitable for coeliacs. They do not contain gluten, wheat or any derivatives thereof.

Are our teas suitable for vegetarians?

ALL of our teas and infusions are suitable for vegetarians, but not always suitable for vegans.

Staining of the Tea Cup?

Occasionally the sides of a cup can be discoloured as the tea is drunk. The problem can arise when elements of the tea react with elements of the water to form non-soluble compounds. These compounds can take a couple of different forms:
One gives the appearance of a film on the surface of the drink (sometimes looks oily and sometimes dusty)
The other is to give the liquid a cloudy look (sometimes referred to as tea ‘cream’)
Some of the water compounds are more prevalent in hard water areas, so the problem is often worse in these areas.
The film on the surface can be deposited on the side of the cup and can be difficult to remove. Because of the ‘chalky’ nature of these insoluble compounds, we recommend cleaning with something such as bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, vinegar or something similar.

What are the Caffeine Levels in Teas?

Black Teas: Average caffeine content of 60-70 mg per cup – based on a serving of 200ml of water. Green & White Teas: Average caffeine content of 30-40 mg per cup – based on a serving of 200ml of water.
The caffeine levels depend heavily on preparation methods (brewing time, stirring), the amount of tea leaves used, the size of the leaves and variations in the plant. Black & green teas are produced from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, so both green and black tea naturally contains caffeine with both containing broadly similar amounts.
There are many types of tea containing different amounts of caffeine and the caffeine content of the beverage may vary widely depending upon brewing method and preferred strength. However it must be noted that, in common with all foodstuffs, an excessive intake is not recommended. In the case of caffeine, 'excessive' is generally regarded as being above 400 mg/day, equivalent to more than eight cups of tea per day with average caffeine content of 50 mg per cup. Pregnant women are however recommended to limit their daily caffeine intake from all sources to a maximum of 200 mg/day.
Coffee can have anywhere between 60-280mg of caffeine per cup depending on the type strength and brewing time

How is our Decaffeinated English Breakfast tea decaffeinated?

The caffeine in tea is removed by a process of solvent extraction.
The dry tea leaves are put into a large vessel with the solvent and mixed under high pressure for several hours. The caffeine ‘dissolves’ into the solvent.
The remaining tea is then ready to pack after a period of ‘drying off’, where any residual solvent evaporates.
The solvent used to remove the caffeine in English Breakfast is Carbon Dioxide and the level of caffeine is 0.4%.

Do Infusions contain caffeine?

All Twinings Infusions are naturally caffeine free. The term “Herbal” or “Fruit” tea can be confusing which is why we refer to them as infusions.

What are the Acidity Levels in Fruit and Herbal teas?

Most fruits naturally contain acids. It is generally understood that our saliva will neutralise the acids and wash them away. Our Infusions range from 3pH to 7pH.

Can Twinings Teabags be composted?

The tea bag paper is completely biodegradable. There is a thin layer of polypropylene plastic on the tea bags to form the seal, however in compost this will form tiny fragments that will break down, and thus the tea bags are fully compostable.

Are Twinings Tea Bags Bleached?

All Twinings tea bags use bleached paper. The paper is bleached using an ‘oxygen bleaching’ process. This process is more environmentally sound than alternative chlorine based bleaching methods, due to the fact that the materials used are not released into the environment after use, but can be re-introduced to the bleaching process. Chlorine and chlorine derivatives (such as sodium chlorite) are more toxic chemicals and are far more harmful to the environment.
Bleaching offers a cleaner, stronger, more premium teabag than can be produced with unbleached pulp. Taste tests have raised concerns about flavour contamination due when unbleached material is used.

How does Twinings ensure that the tea is sourced ethically?

Twinings is committed to improving working conditions for tea plantation workers world-wide. Twinings joins with the Ethical Tea Partnership (formerly the Tea Sourcing Partnership) in deploying and promoting ethical trade amongst tea producers internationally. The result has been a significant improvement in workers’ conditions throughout the tea-producing world. Twinings was a founder member of the ETP since its inception in 1997.
As a premium tea brand, Twinings aim to source from the highest quality tea estates; by this we mean estates that produce high quality teas but which also maintain high standards in everything they do, including treatment of employees and impact on the environment. We have worked with many of our suppliers for several generations. For further information on the ETP visit www.ethicalteapartnership.org

What is Redbush or “Rooibos”?

Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine free drink/tea made from the Rooibos shrub “Aspalathus linearis”, which grows only on the North Western Cape of South Africa. The word 'Rooibos' means 'red bush' in Afrikaans, and is so-called because when the green, needle-like leaves of the plant are cut and left to dry in the sun, they turn a beautiful mahogany red colour.

Do Twinings Australia offer a range of organic teas?

Twinings Australia do not have a range of Organic Teas.