our thirst for tea

our thirst for tea

Our passion for quality and sustainability drives our quest for the finest teas available.

Since 1995, Equator has been committed to sourcing excellent coffees and teas, while having a positive impact on the lives of those we do business with. As with our coffees, our passion for quality and sustainability drives our quest for the finest teas available. By working with purveyors who have direct relationships with markets throughout the world, we are able to connect to tea gardens and tea masters in every growing region. Our belief that quality leads to sustainability is our guiding principle. Over the years, we’ve grown our tea program by continuously learning, and expanding our offerings to include truly unique and rare teas. We invite you to join us on our journey to explore and learn more about tea with each cup.

 

LOCATION

We source teas globally, from producing countries in North & South America, Africa, Asia, and beyond.

The origins of tea as a brewed beverage originate hundreds of years ago in the southeastern regions of China, most notably the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. From there, tea made its way to nearby countries like Japan, Tibet, Thailand, and Vietnam. Along the way, each region developed it’s own styles and rituals around the growing, brewing, and drinking of tea. One of the largest countries in terms of tea production is India, though it wasn’t until the 19th century that commercial production was introduced to the region. Tea is now grown globally, with producing countries in North and South America, Africa, and the Middle East, among others.

 

PROCESSING

Processing has a profound impact on the aromatics and flavors found in every cup of tea.

Processing refers to the creative techniques used to control the drying of freshly harvested tea laves. As soon as leaves a plucked, deeply complex flavors and aroma develop as natural chemical reactions take place. While there is much variation, unique methods and specialized technology, there are generally five steps in the production process: withering, oxidation, firing, rolling, and drying.

Withering: Once picked, each leaf is spread out to wilt and soften, making it pliable. This also has the effect of removing some moisture, and gradually starting the process of oxidation.

Oxidation: In this stage, the leaves begin to darken as certain chemicals are enzymatically broken down. Oxidation is where many flavor compounds develop. While White and Green teas do not go through this stage, Oolongs range between 5 – 70% oxidation, while Black teas reach 100%.

Firing: Firing uses heat to slow down or stop the chemical reactions taking place by neutralizing the enzymes. This is traditionally achieved by tossing in a wok or by steaming, though more modern technologies are available as well.

Rolling: This is where tea gets its varied shapes. Rolling can be done by hand, working with small batches at a time, or by machine for larger quantities. Teas can be formed into many different shapes, from the long thin shape of most black teas, to the round beads of Jasmine Pearls.

Drying: When oxidation & rolling is complete, the tea must be dried to remove moisture. Drying is done in conveyor ovens, compressed hot air roasters, or even in bamboo baskets over hot coal. This stage is responsible for many flavor compounds in White and Green teas.

 

BREWING

A lifetime isn’t long enough to savor the infinite variety of tea grown around the world.

Step 1: Start with cold, fresh filtered water.

Step 2: Heat water according to your tea type. Do not over boil or reheat water; the tea will taste flat.

Step 3: Pour water over tea leaves. Cover the pot or cup and infuse to taste. Each tea tastes different at different steep times.

Step 4: Strain your tea leaves and drink.

Step 5: Re-steep your tea. Many teas can be re-steeped, yielding different flavors with each steeping.

Each tea type has water temperature and steep time that works best to highlight the range of flavors it offers. Refer to the chart below for guidance. Additionally, each of our offerings has a specific dose that we recommend, which can be found on each tea’s page.

 

Brew Chart

Tea Type Water Temperature Approximate Steep Time
White Tea 165° – 175°F 1 – 3 minutes
Green Tea 170° – 180°F 2 – 3 minutes
Oolong Tea 180° – 190°F 1 – 4 minutes
Flowering Tea 212°F 3 – 4 minutes
Black Tea 190° – 212°F 4 – 5 minutes
Herbal Tea 212°F 5 – 7 minutes
Pu-erh Tea 212°F 1 – 2 minutes

While we enjoy teas brewed to these parameters, and think you will as well, we recommend experimenting with temperature and steep time to find a recipe that works best for your palate.

 

TEA TYPES 

All pure leaf tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. The differences lie in their processing methods, handcrafted preparations, and the altitude, soil and micro-climate where they are grown.

Black Tea  Black tea is the most commonly consumed category of tea in the world. Black Tea, as it's called in the West, is known as "Hong Cha" or "Red Tea" in Asia, due to its dark reddish infusion color and dark colored dried tea leaves covered with reddish-orange pekoe. This change in leaf color during processing is due to as oxidation. Black teas typically have deeper, earthier flavors, though some can have sweet, fruity notes as well.

Black Tea 
Black tea is the most commonly consumed category of tea in the world. Black Tea, as it's called in the West, is known as "Hong Cha" or "Red Tea" in Asia, due to its dark reddish infusion color and dark colored dried tea leaves covered with reddish-orange pekoe. This change in leaf color during processing is due to as oxidation. Black teas typically have deeper, earthier flavors, though some can have sweet, fruity notes as well.

 
Green Tea  Green Teas are predominantly produced throughout China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia during the spring growing season. The freshly plucked leaves use various methods of firing the freshly harvested tea leaves to prevent the natural oxidation process and preserve the fresh green aspect of the leaf.

Green Tea 
Green Teas are predominantly produced throughout China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia during the spring growing season. The freshly plucked leaves use various methods of firing the freshly harvested tea leaves to prevent the natural oxidation process and preserve the fresh green aspect of the leaf.

 
White Tea  White tea, similar to Green tea, undergoes no oxidization and is thus preserved in its most natural state. Geographically, white tea originated north of the Min River in China's Fujian Province in the town of Zhenghe. The leaves are picked as terminal buds, before they are fully open and are typically covered with a downy, white fur, which gives white tea its appearance.

White Tea 
White tea, similar to Green tea, undergoes no oxidization and is thus preserved in its most natural state. Geographically, white tea originated north of the Min River in China's Fujian Province in the town of Zhenghe. The leaves are picked as terminal buds, before they are fully open and are typically covered with a downy, white fur, which gives white tea its appearance.

Flowering Tea  Flowering teas are handcrafted by artisans who hand-sew individual tea leaves together into rosette-shaped bundles that reveal their true beauty when they unfurl in the cup. Although expensive in the way of all true fine craftsmanship, the individual tea flowers can be re-used several times.

Flowering Tea 
Flowering teas are handcrafted by artisans who hand-sew individual tea leaves together into rosette-shaped bundles that reveal their true beauty when they unfurl in the cup. Although expensive in the way of all true fine craftsmanship, the individual tea flowers can be re-used several times.

Oolong Tea  A process of semi-oxidation places Oolong tea midway between green and black tea, with a graceful balance that preserves a hint of the bright, grassy-floral quality found in green tea, yet retains the medium bodied, deeper-toned character of a Black tea. The production methods of oolong tea are only known to a few of the tea cultivation regions in the world. The intention of the oolong maker is to partially oxidize the leaf, utilizing special withering, bruising, rolling, oxidation, and repeated roasting techniques until the desired level of oxidation is achieved.

Oolong Tea 
A process of semi-oxidation places Oolong tea midway between green and black tea, with a graceful balance that preserves a hint of the bright, grassy-floral quality found in green tea, yet retains the medium bodied, deeper-toned character of a Black tea. The production methods of oolong tea are only known to a few of the tea cultivation regions in the world. The intention of the oolong maker is to partially oxidize the leaf, utilizing special withering, bruising, rolling, oxidation, and repeated roasting techniques until the desired level of oxidation is achieved.

Pu-erh Tea Pu-erh tea has an ancient history of more than 2,000 years, originating in Yunnan Province of southwestern China. Pu-erh is a specially fermented form of tea, and both shu and sheng Pu-erh types are made from a sun-dried Green tea called saiqing mao cha. Like Champagne or other regionally specific foods and beverages, Pu-erh is a geographically indicated product, and it can only be produced and fermented in Southern Yunnan with sun-dried Green tea from certain tea varietals found in Yunnan, Laos, Burma and some parts of Thailand and Vietnam.

Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh tea has an ancient history of more than 2,000 years, originating in Yunnan Province of southwestern China. Pu-erh is a specially fermented form of tea, and both shu and sheng Pu-erh types are made from a sun-dried Green tea called saiqing mao cha. Like Champagne or other regionally specific foods and beverages, Pu-erh is a geographically indicated product, and it can only be produced and fermented in Southern Yunnan with sun-dried Green tea from certain tea varietals found in Yunnan, Laos, Burma and some parts of Thailand and Vietnam.

Herbal Blends Herbal blends, also known as “tisanes,” are a caffeine-free alternative to traditional teas. They contain no tea leaves, and are instead derived from one or more of the following sources: herbs, roots, spices, fruit, and flowers. Because of the large array of potential ingredients, Herbal blends can vary greatly in appearance and flavor.

Herbal Blends
Herbal blends, also known as “tisanes,” are a caffeine-free alternative to traditional teas. They contain no tea leaves, and are instead derived from one or more of the following sources: herbs, roots, spices, fruit, and flowers. Because of the large array of potential ingredients, Herbal blends can vary greatly in appearance and flavor.