Tea expertise from plant to cup
Premium tea is the culmination of all sorts of elements, from sunshine and soil, to picking, rolling, blending and much more. Each step in the journey from plant to cup affects the final product your customers enjoy.
Origins of our premium team
Tea grows in many regions of the world. However, there are special tea gardens in certain places which provide the ideal climate and conditions to grow high quality teas.
Naturally, Julius Meinl sources its teas from some of the world’s most famous tea gardens to be able to bring you the finest tea creations.
India is one of the most important tea producing countries, being famous for its characterful black teas.
Two of these, Assam and Darjeeling, are not only designations for tea qualities but they are also districts of India.
Assam is the world’s biggest tea cropping region with more than 1.000 active tea gardens and famous for its full-bodied, aromatic, malty black teas.
Darjeeling is located in the foothills of the Himalaya with only 80 active tea gardens, producing teas very fine in aroma and with carry complex fruity or floral flavours.
Julius Meinl features both in all of its tea product lines.
China is not only the birthplace of tea – it is also the biggest producer of tea worldwide. Tea in China is a deeply cultural good, intertwined with the country's history. A large number of delicate green tea creations in the Julius Meinl portfolio are being sourced from famous Chinese tea cropping regions.
Sri Lanka ('Ceylon')
Teas from Sri Lanka are still called “Ceylon” which was the country's name in colonial times. In the heart of the island you will find small and big tea cultivations – they are located close to or directly in the central highlands. Ceylon teas are very famous for their characteristic brisk black tea flavour. Contributing intensity and body they are an integral part of the Julius Meinl English Breakfast teas.
Production of beautiful teas
The tea production process is a complex activity with 7 steps, all of which require great care.
Step 1: Picking
Tea picking is mostly still done in the traditional way, where tea leaves are handpicked and gathered into wide baskets by the tea pickers. Hand picking ensures that only the best leaves of the plant are collected and used for tea production. The best leaves are actually “two leaves and a bud”, with the leaf bud itself accompanied by two nearby young leaves.
Step 2: Withering
For approximately 10 – 12 hours, the freshly picked leaves are spread over mats where warm air blows over them. This results in a loss of moisture of the tea leaf (of up to 50%). It becomes softer and is thus prepared for the following production steps.
Step 3: Steaming or Fermenting
This step is a game-changer. It defines how black or green tea is produced.
- Green teas are being steamed or roasted. This quick exposure to high temperatures stops further fermentation and keeps the natural substances sealed in the leaf. The tea leaves retain their delicate flavour and green colour.
- Black teas are fermented. As the leaves are ripped open, the substances in their cells react with oxygen. This is called “rolling” and is usually done by machines. With the ongoing fermentation the tea's colour changes to brown and it develops its characteristic black tea taste. And all this in only 2-4 hours of time.
Step 4: Drying
Drying is necessary to finalise the tea and assure its long storability. In black tea production, it’s the drying that finally stops the fermentation processes. Fermentation masters in the tea factory decide when the tea has reached the perfect level of fermentation so that it will be put into the oven and dried down.
This is a quick process step, taking only 10 to 20 minutes. Exposing the tea to smoke of burning wood or applying higher temperatures the tea gardens can give their teas special taste notes.
Step 5: Grading
At this stage, the tea is already “finalised” and can be enjoyed. Yet, tea plantations sort the raw teas into different qualities, also called (leaf) grades. The tea runs through different layers of sieves. As a result, you can differentiate between four main classifications: whole leaves, broken leaves, fannings and dust.
Step 6: Cupping and blending
Some tea gardens are using different species of the tea plant and various levels of fermentation to the tea lots. That is why very often teas are blended into bigger lot sizes already on the tea gardens. Cupping and evaluating each lot produced and then blending them cautiously allows the producers to homogenize qualities but also to give the teas the 'special something'. This step requires a great deal of experience and is in many cases, based on secret recipes which can be hundreds of years old.
Step 7: Tasting
At Julius Meinl, we delight in the exploration of teas worldwide. We experiment with blending these teas with various ingredients and taste notes to elevate the tea experience. Our offerings go beyond classical tea qualities, encompassing exclusive creations that feature selected fruit pieces, spices, and herbs.
And that explains why every single tea lot and all tea compositions have to be inspected and tried by our Julius Meinl experts in the quality control before they get officially released for sales.
Packaging tea for impeccable quality
Proper tea packaging and storage are imperative to the shelf life, quality and flavour of the tea.
To keep your tea perfectly, here are 4 tips:
Tea easily absorbs all sorts of odours. It must not be stored close to spices, rubbish or any other sources of odour.
Make sure the tea is protected from sunlight. It should be kept in a tin or dark cabinet to avoid flavour loss.
Tea absorbs moisture from the air. Store it away from dishwashers, boiling water and refrigerators.
Avoid placing tea near ovens, stoves or other sources of heat. Our teas are carefully sealed and packed in odour-free materials to ensure the finest quality.
It’s done every day, but is it done properly? There are some basic rules to bear in mind when preparing the perfect cup of tea:
- Always use fresh water.
- Stick to the recommended steeping times and water temperatures. Generally speaking, a shorter steeping time leads to a lighter, less strong tea, while a longer steeping time helps to develop more intense flavours and more body.
- Free the leaves! The more space the tea has to unfold - the better. Do not squeeze it into a filter. Ideally infuse the tea leaves loosely in a jar and afterwards pour it through a filter into the tea pot.
- Take your time to find the perfect set-up.
How to brew tea
Types of tea
Black tea, a timeless classic, undergoes a unique fermentation process resulting in rich, dark leaves. These bold teas boast a robust flavour profile with bakery-fresh, malty, citrus, and earthy notes.
1g of tea per 100ml of water, time of infusion is 3-5 minutes at a temperature around 95-100°C.
With its vibrant leaves, green tea offers a unique and refreshing flavour profile. It undergoes minimal processing, allowing it to retain its natural goodness. Across Asia, green tea holds deep cultural and traditional significance, celebrated for its exquisite taste and historical roots.
1g of tea per 100ml of water, time of infusion is 2-3 minutes at a temperature around 75-85°C.
Rooibos leaves actually are more needles than real leaves. The popular type of ‘rooibos’ has orange-brown dry leaves, thanks to fermentation while green rooibos remains unfermented. Rooibos is known to be stomach-friendly and does not contain caffeine.
1-2 g of tea per 100 ml of water, time of infusion is from 5 to 10 minutes at a temperature of 100 °C.
Fruit teas traditionally feature apple pieces for sweetness, rosehip for fruitiness, and hibiscus for acidity and red colour. Blending various fruits and flowers creates both enticing flavours and vibrant colours.
1-2g of tea per 100ml of water, time of infusion is from 5 to 10 minutes at a temperature of 100°C.
Julius Meinl Tea continues Austria's herbal tea tradition with heritage recipes, now enhanced by spices and herbs from around the globe, offering a diverse range of colours, aromas, and flavours.
1-2g of tea per 100ml of water, time of infusion is from 5 – 10 minutes at a temperature of 100°C.