Welcome to the Wonderful World of Tea

teapot, teacups, and loose leaf Pai Mu Tan white tea

All of us at Burman Coffee Traders are flavor adventurers – always searching for the freshest and most interesting coffees and teas, always excited to discover unique beverages from unusual regions.  If you have seen our coffee list, you already know that we are dedicated to sourcing the highest quality products from all over the world.  But you may not realize that we have a fantastic (and growing!) selection of teas and herbal infusions to complement our coffees.  So we have opened this blog to educate each other and to share these world-class premium teas with a wider audience.

Tea fans: welcome!  We are very excited to continue exploring the world of classic and exotic teas with all of you.

Coffee fans: try tea!  We can assure you that this well-traveled path will bring its own rewards, with ancient herbal wisdom and many exotic flavors!

Coffee is our passion –  as you know well – but we are also excited to explore the even bigger and more diverse world of tea.  Tea is the most-consumed beverage (besides pure water) in the world!  Billions of people have enjoyed countless unique preparations of tea for thousands of years, and new processing techniques and new flavorings continue to diversify the field, even as ancient traditional preparations remain popular.  We have partnered with some of the foremost tea distributors in the world to bring you exceptional top-shelf varieties of all your old favorites as well as unique and rare products from famous tea-producing regions in China and India.  We continue to work hard to source more varieties, but we won’t settle for anything but the freshest and most perfect lots.

Tea contains significantly less caffeine than coffee (making it more suitable in the evening or for those who are very sensitive to stimulants), yet is rich in antioxidants, alkaloids, and minerals that promote strong health and mental wellness.  Other herbal infusions provide wide-ranging benefits such as aiding digestion, warming the body, cleansing out toxins, or calming stress and encouraging sleep (technically, infusions made from herbs other than the tea plant Camellia sinensis are not actually “teas”– read this Tea Primer to learn more about different types of teas and herbal infusions).

For your guests who do not care for coffee, or for late-night gatherings where a gentle digestive is more appropriate than another dose of caffeine, or for a daily ritual which is calming and fortifying, our wide selections of premium teas have many delicious options. 

Here are just a few of our top picks.  With this much variety, you are sure to find something perfect for any occasion!


UPDATE: We wrote a whole new post about our favorite NEW teas! Check it out…


Green Teas

Organic Pinhead Gunpowder, Wuyuan China – Looking for a place to start your tea adventures?  This one’s funny name indicates attractive, very tightly-rolled green leaves with a classic robust flavor.  This high-quality tea from a region just outside of the famous Fujian province is available for a mouth-watering sale price!  $1.86/oz

Organic Special Dragon Well, Lung Ching village Zhejiang China – bright green, pan-fired, light and delicate, a superb artisanal tea from a world-famous locale.  Not to be missed!  $3.70/oz

Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, Fujian China – Oolong teas, half-way between green and black, have fascinatingly complex flavors, and are perfect for repeatedly steeping many small cups in the traditional style, savoring the unique flavor profile of each unfolding layer. $3.38/oz

Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, Green Tea
Ti Kuan Yin Oolong

Black Teas

Grand Keemun, Qimen China – rich, malty, velvety sweet, with notes of cocoa and caramel.  One of the best black teas we have tasted, available at a bargain price.  $2.48/oz

Margaret’s Hope Estate Vintage, Darjeeling Indiavery special!  This “first flush” harvest from one of the oldest estates in Darjeeling is delicate, complex, delicious, extraordinary.  $4.55/oz

Darjeeling, Margaret's Hope Estate, Black Tea
Darjeeling, Margaret’s Hope Estate

Flavored Teas

Earl Grey, India – the most popular flavored tea.  This top-shelf Earl Grey includes blue mallow flower in addition to exquisite bergamot. $1.80/oz

Organic Lapsang Suchong, Fujian China – for the daring tea enthusiast, this pine-smoke-infused black tea has a unique flavor profile and warm silky body.  $2.27/oz

Champagne Raspberry White, Fujian China – fruity and floral, top-grade “white peony” sprigs from famous Fujian province.  $3.15/oz

Pomegranate Pai Mu Tan, Fujian China – pomegranate is the perfect pairing with the “white peony” tea, delicate early spring buds with a nice clean crisp astringent taste.   $3.00

Plum Pai Mu Tan, Fujian China – our new favorite flavored tea!  The plum, fig, and rose make a lovely sweet cup that elevates the spirits.  $3.00/oz

Plum Pai Mu Tan, White Tea
Plum Pai Mu Tan

Herbal Infusions

Holy Detox, India – tulsi or “holy basil” is a powerful immuno-booster and cleanser of respiratory and digestive systems used extensively in ayurvedic healthcare.  Mixed with rose hips, mint, and lemon – who knew medicine could be so yummy?   $2.63/oz

Chamomile Spice, India – perfect digestive, chamomile and ginger both soothe the belly, very warming.  $2.50/oz

Bianca Blend, India – chamomile, hibiscus, orange; tart tropical flavors coupled with cozy chamomile, makes a bright yummy dessert cup.  $2.70/oz

Lavender Sleepy-time BCT Special Blend, India/Europe – check out this luscious new creation!  Premium chamomile, LOTS of lovely lavender, spearmint and lemon peel – its a BCT original, and we are happy to see that its a crowd-pleaser, very popular! $4.56/oz

Organic Rooibos, South Africa – when you need a hot cup without the caffeine, rooibos will make you smile.  With warm vanilla and honey notes, versatile rooibos is the base for many herbal blends.  $2.20/oz

Herbal Masala Chai, South Africa  – the strong vanilla notes in our exceptional rooibos make it the perfect base for this warm spicy chai blend.  $1.99/oz

Herbal Chocolate Chai, South Africa –  all of the above, PLUS CHOCOLATE.  Need we say more?   $2.25/oz

Herbal Chocolate Chai - Rooibos Herbal Infusion
Herbal Chocolate Chai

Organic Cascara, Hawaii – this unique product feels out of place on our tea list, because it is actually coffee! Cascara, Spanish for “husk,” is the fruit of the coffee bean – uniquely light and fruity, it contains about ¼ of the caffeine plus abundant antioxidants.  Rare! and in limited supply, give it a try today!  $3.15/oz


UPDATE: We wrote a whole new post about our favorite NEW teas! Check it out…


How to make a London Fog

Tea a hug in a cup artwork

Recipe for creating a London Fog, a delicious drink made with Earl Grey Tea.

A well-loved classic, Earl Grey is arguably the most popular of all flavored teas. Bergamot oil comes from the peel of a small citrus cultivated mostly in Italy, and lends a fantastic spicy-sour flavor as well as aromas which enliven the palate and sinuses. The blue mallow flowers included in this special blend improve the color while also complimenting the bergamot with subtle lavender. Great for a morning pick-me-up, this strong tea with stimulating vapors, warm flavors, and ample caffeine will grab your attention!

Just the thing on a gloomy winter day for a yummy pick me up!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Earl Grey Tea
  • 1/2 cup hot water (212°F)
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond milk or other milk substitute should work)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp honey or sweetener of your choice

Instructions:

  • Steep tea for 2-4 minutes (depending on strength preference)
  • Mix tea with frothed milk (if you do not have a frother or steamer, warming milk on stove top will also work)
  • Stir in sweetener
  • Enjoy!

Get some premium quality Earl Grey Tea here.

Please let us know how you enjoy your favorite teas!

Types of Teas

teapot, teacups, and accessories on a table with plants

Tea 101: Many Different Types of Tea


Coffee is our passion. But when our taste buds are seeking a little variety, or for health and wellness, we are so happy to have our exceptional assortment of teas. More and more Americans are waking up to the world of tea – white, green, black, and more; from the artisanal processing methods of Chinese Oolongs and Pu-Erhs, to the fortifying health elixirs of Japanes Matchas, Genmaichas, and Kukichas, to the shockingly sweet & spicy shots of Indian Masala Chai, all have distinct styles and traditions; often flavored or scented to amplify and complicate existing aromas, like Jasmine, Mint, Rose, bergamot (Earl Grey), and pine smoke (Lapsang Souchong) – there are countless unique flavors!

We would like to invite our customers to explore the wonderful world of tea – also known as “cha” in China and Japan, or “chai” in India – with us, and to savor this ancient beverage enjoyed by more people than any drink besides pure water! Sometimes choosing from a list of foreign or fanciful names may feel intimidating, so we are providing a few primers to get you started.

Teas are categorized into “White,” “Green,” “Oolong,” “Black,” and “Pu-Erh” types, each with distinctive characteristics and flavors. All teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub native to China, and while regional weather conditions and soil types contribute to the flavor profile of each tea, the most notable differences are determined by the way the tea is processed.

white tea, Plum Pai Mu Tan
Plum Pai Mu Tan

White teas are minimally processed, with a very light, sweet flavor and high antioxidant content – like a cupful of new spring growth. Nearly all white teas hail from Fujian Province in Eastern China, and they tend to be quite rare in the West. Very young buds are picked when they are still tightly enclosed in new, pale, silky leaves. Tea bushes with large, fleshy buds are used for most white teas – these buds become Silver Needles, while buds plus the next two leaves become White Peony teas. The gentle flavor profiles of white teas make them excellent for adding subtle fruit and floral flavors. White teas are typically steeped in 170 degree water for 3 minutes.

tea with toasted brown rice
Genmaicha

Green teas are most popular in China and Japan. Green teas are heat-processed to prevent oxidation. Premium teas are generally steamed or pan-fried, and then Sencha teas are rolled into fine strands, Gunpowder teas are rolled into pellets, and other types are painstakingly shaped and tied into elaborate “blossoms” that unfurl in the bottom of the cup or teapot. With less processing, leaves plucked in the morning are ready to be brewed that night, and green teas provide the most antioxidants and consequent health benefits. Avoiding oxidation allows green tea to retain its color, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll, and minerals. The taste is therefore more astringent and more subtle than Oolong or black teas, and the effect on the body is more fortifying than stimulating. Japan has created numerous interesting health elixirs, including Matcha (finely powdered tea), Genmaicha (tea with toasted rice), and Kukicha (tea twigs). The astounding diversity of Chinese green teas presents a seemingly endless variety of flavor profiles. Green teas are mostly steeped at 180 degrees for 2-4 minutes.

oolong tea, Ti Kuan Yin
Ti Kuan Yin Oolong

Oolong teas are half-way between Greens and Blacks, making them tasty, healthful, and stimulating – a completely satisfying tea, and a favorite of connoisseurs! These teas are partially oxidized as they go through a “withering” process, then they are rolled into balls, and eventually heated to stop oxidation at just the right moment. Depending on how long oxidation is allowed, Oolong teas can range from dark green to nearly black, and may contain a wide variety of flavors ranging from bright, astringent, and green to complex, nutty, and smoky. Oolong teas may be steeped between 180-200 degrees for 3-6 minutes.

black tea, Darjeeling, Margaret's Hope Estate
Darjeeling, Margaret’s Hope Estate

Black teas are most popular in India and in the West. Indian teas were first cultivated by the British, who had previously traded tea with China. Brits in Northeast India discovered a wild tea variant, a sub-species called Camellia sinensis var. assamica, and put it to work in vast plantations. English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling & Ceylon teas all come from this rather different tea plant. To make black teas, leaves are withered in the sun, then rolled to break open tissues, so that inner chemicals react with the air (or “oxidize”) and begin to ferment. Leaves change from green to red and then eventually to brown or black. The oxidation process brings out new flavors, often fruity, floral, or malty. Black teas are generally steeped at boiling (212) for 3-5 minutes.

Pu-Erh teas mostly come from Yunnan Province in Southern China, and these rich and sophisticated products undergo an elaborate fermentation process, including aging. Freshly-picked leaves are briefly withered, then partially heat-processed to stop most oxidation. Then leaves are rolled, but *not* dried and packed like other teas – enzymes, bacteria, and fungi continue to slowly ferment the leaves and to produce rich, complex flavors. Traditional Pu-Erh teas are fermented for at least 6 months, sometimes up to 30 years! Nowadays most are made using an enhanced fermentation process that simulates long aging in less than 1 year. These teas are revered for their medicinal benefits, cutting cholesterol, aiding digestion, warming the body, dispelling the effects of alcohol, and refreshing the mind. And what a flavor profile! A good Pu-Erh is like a single-malt Scotch – unique, rich, with a powerful aroma and best savored sip by sip with friends. Pu-Erh teas may be prepared like black teas. But they are best enjoyed in the traditional style – a series of small cups, steeped in clean boiling water for 15 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, etc, up to 8 times. White, Green & Oolong teas may be prepared in a similar manner; see “How to Steep the Perfect Cup of Tea.

Warm Rooibos Cocktails
Warm Rooibos Cocktails

Herbal “teas” are not, in fact, teas at all – Rooibos, Chamomile, Hibiscus, etc contain no Camellia sinensis and no caffeine. They are still delicious and healthful, of course! Most herbal infusions are best when steeped in boiling water for at least 5 minutes, sometimes up to 20 minutes (this is especially true of herbs with medicinal benefits – longer steeping means more of the good stuff!). With long steeps, remember a lid on your cup to keep it warm.

With so many different types, it is impossible to sum up the flavor profiles and health benefits of our many herbal infusions. We continue searching for more special herbs and blends to supplement our many exceptional teas. Check out this special article all about our favorite herbal infusions!


Freshness is of vital importance, as the delicate and complex flavors of teas fade over time. The very finest teas will go to market only days after they are plucked in the spring and early summer. Unfortunately we rarely see these in the United States. At Burman Coffee Traders we seek out only the freshest teas. We store everything in airtight containers and send your order in resealable bags to ensure that you receive the highest quality possible.


UPDATE: We wrote a whole new post about our favorite NEW teas! Check it out…