Loose leaf Chinese tea is the beginning of tea's story. Millenia ago, the Chinese began crafting the indigenous mountain tea plant, Camellia sinensis, into a delicious drink. Thousands of years have been invested in perfecting the art of Chinese tea.
We have travelled across China over the last 20 years to select what we believe is the finest pure China leaf tea. Not just green tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea but also the most sublime white tea and black tea.
To this day in China, as it was until the 1970s in the UK, loose leaf tea is much more common than teabags. The best Chinese tea is made from whole leaves and buds that need room to unfurl and expand as they infuse. Chinese leaf tea deserves a little love and care in a teapot. You will be well rewarded with the taste.
How to choose between types of Chinese tea?
Chinese tea covers the spectrum of tea types. They range from the least processed white tea, through green tea, oolong and black tea, all the way to fermented pu-erh.
All our Chinese teas are loose leaf and handcrafted by farmers who work organically without pesticides and herbicides. They are all delicious and have well documented health benefits, but the flavour profiles of the leaves vary tremendously - from the deep earthy, woody notes of pu'erh to the soft, grassy sweetness of white silver tips.
Please read the flavour notes on each tea page to help choose the teas that you will most enjoy.
Chinese Oolong tea vs Chinese Green tea
The difference between Chinese oolong tea and Chinese green tea is that the leaves are crafted using different techniques. Chinese green tea is fired quickly after picking to retain fresher, brighter flavours. Whereas, oolong tea goes through several more stages of crafting, being partially oxidised, to increase the complexity of the flavour spectrum.
How is Chinese tea packaged?
The Chinese tea from Rare Tea Company is packed in moisture and oxygen barrier foil to keep it in perfect condition. Unopened these foils will keep the tea in excellent condition for long periods of time.
How is Chinese tea stored?
Once opened its essential to keep your tea airtight. Please keep it away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. We supply tins to accompany your tea - to keep it in the best possible condition. Sadly, once opened the tea will start to oxidise with exposure to the air. For the best flavours please drink within 3 months.
There is one exception - pu'erh tea. This is a tea that ages beautifully. It should be left in paper only, and not kept airtight. Long slow fermentation over years and decades only improves the flavour.
Does Chinese tea contain caffeine?
All true tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and contains caffeine. If you want to avoid caffeine please visit our Herbal tea section. These are infusions made from different herbs (not Camellia sinensis) and do not contain caffeine, with the exception of Malawi Coffee Leaf.
Do I need special teaware for brewing Chinese Tea?
You can infuse Chinese tea in a loose leaf tea infuser or teapot. However, to really explore the flavours of the some of the most valuable Chinese teas like Chinese Emperor's Golden Eyebrow (Jin Jun Mei) or to make six short extractions of an exceptional oolong like our Iron Goddess of Mercy we recommend using a specialist Chinese Gaiwan tea set - you can watch a short video here demonstrating how to use it, to get the most out of your precious Chinese tea leaves.