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Our Most Frequently Asked Questions!

Frequently Asked Questions

Just when we thought we’d heard it all, someone asks us a question nobody’s ever asked before. So, if we don't answer your question here, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Tea Questions

Where does tea come from?

Tea consists of the processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub indigenous to Southeast Asia that thrives in subtropic and highland tropic regions. The leaves and buds (and sometimes even the stems) of Camellia sinensis are harvested and processed in various fashions to produce the range of tea varieties available today (such as black, oolong, green, white, and pu-erh).

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How should I steep my tea?

Depending on whom you talk to, brewing tea can be a very simple or very complicated matter. Believe it or not, the government of Great Britain actually maintains official specifications on the “proper” way to brew tea! We firmly believe that tea should be brewed to suit your own personal taste. With that being said, we’ve created a step by step guide to get you started, but please remember you can make adjustments based on your own personal taste. If you are brewing Matcha we’ve created a separate step by step guide on How to Make Matcha.

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What accessories do I need to steep my tea?

While there are all sorts of teapots, infusers, and other tea accessories to help you brew the perfect cup, all you really need to brew loose tea is a vessel to hold the hot water, and a way to remove the tea leaves before they over-steep. This could be as simple as a mug with a spoon, an infuser or a do-it-yourself teabag, to something as sophisticated as a teapot with a built-in infuser, a tea measuring spoon, and a specialized timer!

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How many servings of tea can I make per ounce?

Generally speaking, one ounce of tea should make about 12 servings of tea.

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How should I store my tea?

Tea easily absorbs moisture and scents, so it's imperative that tea is stored in an airtight container, away from strong-smelling items. For instance, avoid storing tea in the spice cabinet. Because light can also impair the quality of tea, storage containers should be opaque (unless stored away from light). When stored properly, Arbor Teas tea will stay fresh for up to one year after you receive it.  Beyond one year your tea will begin to lose flavor. If left in unopened Arbor Teas packaging, your tea will also remain fresh for up to one year.  After you open your Arbor Teas bag and transfer its contents to a storage container, don’t forget to compost your bag!

It just so happens that we sell a bulk and regular-sized storage tin. 

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What’s your suggestion for making iced tea?

Making iced tea at home is a breeze!  We recommend one of two ways to brew iced tea, traditional hot brew or eco-friendly cold brew.  We created step by step guides to illustrate both techniques and suggest trying each to find which you like best. The flavor profile changes slightly depending on the method used.

A Word About Sun Tea: Many people are accustomed to brewing their iced tea by leaving it out in the sun. We recommend using either of the methods described above instead, which benefit from either sterilizing the tea with boiling water, or keeping the water below bacteria-growing temperatures. In contrast, the luke warm temperatures of sun tea can allow bacteria to flourish.


Note: It is OK if your iced tea clouds! There are many reasons this can occur; a clouded tea can sometimes signify a higher quality tea filled with desirable tea solids, or one that has been cooled too quickly. Regardless, a clouded iced tea is certainly not a bad iced tea! Teas from the Nilgiri region of India seem to resist clouding better than other tea varieties.


Can't get enough iced tea info? Check out our Iced Tea Tips section for solutions to common problems and ideas for fun variations and additions!

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How much caffeine is in tea?

When brewed at our recommended serving size, any variety of tea (black, green, oolong, white and pu-erh) will have less caffeine than coffee.  The "tea plant", camellia sinensis, naturally has caffeine in its leaves.  The amount of caffeine that is transferred from that leaf into your cup depends on many things: varietal, age of leaf, method of manufacture, production techniques, steeping time, and water temperature used during steeping. Because of these numerous variables, no one can tell you the exact amount of caffeine in your cup unless a caffeine counter is used immediately before you drink from it.  However, most cups of tea have caffeine contents that range from 60 mg – 15 mg per 8oz cup. It is important to note that even decaffeinated teas contain small amounts of caffeine. Only herbal and fruit teas are completely free of caffeine (the notable exception being yerba mate).

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What are the health benefits of drinking tea?

Tea has received a lot of press discussing the potential benefits it can have on your health.  Recent research exploring the potential health attributes of tea is leading many scientists to agree that tea, both green and black, may contribute positively to a healthy lifestyle.  For a more in-depth discussion of these health properties, please visit our Tea and Health Benefits section.

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I’ve got a question about your teas, can I ask your tea specialist?

Absolutely! Please don’t hesitate to e-mail your questions to TeaAdvice@ArborTeas.com, or just call us at (734) 994-7698.

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Product Questions

Are all of your teas USDA certified organic?

Yes, we are very proud to offer an entire line of organic teas certified to the standards of the USDA National Organic Program.

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Why aren’t all of your teas Fair Trade Certified®?

Well, there are a couple of key reasons. First, the Fair Trade movement in the tea industry is still growing, and many authentic varieties remain unavailable in a Fair Trade Certified® form. However, we search constantly for new Fair Trade Certified® products meeting our standards, and will add them to our inventory as they become available. Additionally, it’s important to note that because Fair Trade focuses on the developing world, teas from Japan (where fair market and labor conditions already prevail) will not be found under the Fair Trade Certified® label. If you find a "Japanese" tea somewhere bearing the Fair Trade Certified® logo, it’s probably been grown somewhere else.

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How do you ensure the quality of your teas? We at Arbor Teas perform extensive comparative tasting whenever we consider adding a new tea to our catalog. If a particular tea isn’t up-to-snuff, we simply won’t offer it. In addition, we manage our inventory of teas meticulously so that we can deliver the freshest, best-quality tea around.

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What makes your tea packaging better for the environment?

Beginning on Earth Day 2010, Arbor Teas became the first tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in backyard compostable packaging! With the release of this next generation packaging, we at Arbor Teas advanced our environmental mission, continuing to lead the tea industry through our staunch commitment to sustainable business practices. For the first time ever, tea drinkers are now able to compost their tea leaves AND tea packaging together in their home composting system!

Our exciting new packaging is composed of a cellulose film made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably-managed trees. Most compostable packaging available in today’s marketplace is only truly compostable in industrial settings optimized for rapid breakdown. By contrast, the films used for Arbor Teas’ new packaging can actually breakdown in a backyard compost setting.

Because of greater variation in moisture and temperature, backyard composting environments have historically been incapable of breaking down so-called “compostable” packaging materials (e.g. corn plastic cups and take-out containers and the like). However, the material chosen for Arbor Teas’ new packages requires a less optimized environment for biodegradation, representing a major advancement in low-impact packaging.

The film is certified to both the European (EN13432) and American (ASTM D6400) standards for compostable packaging, and has been submitted to an additional independent test protocol (Miti Test ISO14851) confirming its biodegradation at ambient temperatures and in aqueous environments, relevant for home composting in bins or compost heaps.

Not only are our new packages compostable, they’re also lighter than their predecessors. In all, our latest shift in packaging materials reduced the weight of Arbor Teas’ packaging by over 60%! This translates to a meaningful reduction in the carbon footprint of Arbor Teas operations. And, in response to customer requests, the new packaging accommodates more tea than ever before. On average, Arbor Teas packages contain 27% more tea than they did previously. The result: MORE TEA, LESS PACKAGING!

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Order Questions

Is your tea sold loose or in teabags?

Currently, Arbor Teas sells loose leaf tea only.  This means that none of our tea is contained in a teabag, but arrives at your doorstep packaged in its original "loose" form.  We only offer loose leaf tea because we specialize in sourcing high-quality whole leaf tea, which is principally available in loose leaf form.  The main difference between whole leaf tea and the tea found in a teabag is its method of production.  Both whole leaf tea and bagged tea begin with the same tea leaf from the same plant, camellia sinensis.  The tea leaf can be processed using one of two methods, orthodox or CTC. Orthodox production is used to create the whole leaf teas that we offer at Arbor Teas, while CTC production is used primarily in mass-market teabags. Orthodox production, whether done by hand or machine, generally preserves the integrity of the tea leaf. On the other hand, CTC manufacturing (or “crush-tear-curl”) uses machines to mince, shred or crush the leaf. Both methods can produce excellent teas, but the orthodox method is considered the more “traditional,” and results in tea that is generally more complex in flavor and aroma.

“But teabags are so convenient!” Yes, they allow us to remove tea leaves from our cup quickly and easily after brewing.  But never fear, loose leaf tea can be brewed just as easily!  We recommend creating do-it-yourself teabags with our T-sacs, or investing in a reusable infuser.  With these items, you can steep your tea and remove the leaves just as easily as with the traditional teabag.  Got questions?  Check out our easy step-by-step guide on How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea.

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How can I pay for my order?

Arbor Teas customers can elect to pay using all major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Amex and Discover).

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How do I redeem a gift certificate?

To redeem an Arbor Teas gift certificate, simply enter the gift certificate’s number in the shopping cart before checkout.

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How do you keep your site secure?

To protect your online transactions, we’ve implemented Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology on our server. If your browser is capable of SSL (most are), your personal information will be automatically encrypted using 256-bit encryption before it is sent over the Internet. Our SSL certificate is provided by GeoTrust, which can be verified by clicking the GeoTrust icon at the bottom of every page on our site.

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Will you distribute my e-mail address or other personal information?

No. We never sell, rent, lend or otherwise provide your personal information to any third parties UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. We will only share personal customer information with our agents, representatives and trusted service providers and/or contractors for the limited purposes of fulfilling customer orders, completing credit card transactions, communicating to customers, providing customer service, providing a personalized shopping experience, and offering certain products and services in connection with our website. Click here to view our entire Privacy Policy.

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I’m not comfortable ordering on-line, how else can I order from you?

For those customers who are uncomfortable ordering on-line, we are happy to accept credit card orders over the phone. Just give us a call at (734) 994-7698.  We are available by phone Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 am - 4 pm EST.

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Do you have a printed catalog?

No. We’ve elected to save the paper (and the trees!) and keep our catalog on-line.

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What if I’m not happy with my order - what’s your return policy?

We stand by the quality of our products. If, for any reason, you aren’t completely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it to us for an exchange or a full product refund - no questions asked. It’s that simple. Click here to view our entire Return Policy.

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Shipping Questions

What shipping options do you offer?

We are pleased to offer a variety of UPS and USPS shipping services, as well as free local delivery in the City of Ann Arbor. These include: UPS Ground, UPS 2nd Day Air, USPS Priority Mail, and USPS Parcel Post (our most earth-friendly shipping option). All shipping rates are calculated in real-time based on your shipping address and the size of your order. Click here to view our entire Shipping Policy.

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How quickly will my order reach me?

Delivery speed depends upon the shipping carrier and service you elect during checkout. A summary of the shipping times provided by each carrier is provided below. To estimate the arrival date of your order, please allow 1-2 business days for order fulfillment prior to shipping.

•  UPS Ground: 1-5 business days from day of shipment  
•  UPS 2nd Day Air: 2 business days from day of shipment  
•  USPS Priority Mail: 2-3 days from day of shipment  
•  USPS Parcel Post: 5-12 days from day of shipment (Alaska and Hawaii 15-20 days)  
•  Free Delivery in the City of Ann Arbor, MI: Every Friday excluding major holidays

Click here to view our entire Shipping Policy.

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Can I check on the status of my order?

Yes. Those customers who have created an account with Arbor Teas may login using their e-mail address and password and check the status of past and pending orders.

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What makes your Earth-Friendlier Parcel Post Shipping better for the environment?

Generally speaking, package delivery that utilizes jet transportation is relatively fuel inefficient, resulting in higher emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases than ground methods of freight transit. USPS Parcel Post is the only shipping option available that eliminates the use of all jet transportation. Please note: USPS Parcel Post can take up to twice as long as some of the other shipping options we offer. Click here to view our entire Shipping Policy.

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How can I qualify for free shipping?

Free shipping is available for all orders over $60.00 in value, and for all local deliveries within the City of Ann Arbor. Arbor Teas reserves the right to choose the shipping carrier and service used to deliver all orders electing free shipping (which could include USPS Parcel Post, 5-12 business days). Free shipping is sometimes not available in combination with other coupons or promotions.


Click here to view our entire Shipping Policy.

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Why do you occasionally use packing peanuts to pack your orders - aren’t those bad for the environment?

In addition to recycling boxes for shipping our orders, we reclaim packing peanuts and other packing materials from local businesses and the local Materials Recovery Facility, giving them a second life before finding their way back into the waste stream (we call this our "peanut soup")! This way, no virgin materials are wasted to pad our shipments.

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Miscellaneous Questions

Why does Arbor Teas partner with CarbonFund.org?

We’ve taken a number of steps to minimize our contribution to global climate change, like offering exclusively organic teas, greener packaging, eco-shipping options, using green energy, and the like. Despite these actions, our business continues to generate a certain amount of carbon emissions that we just can’t avoid (yet). Until we can eliminate these carbon emissions entirely, we’ve teamed up with CarbonFund.org to offset them by promoting green energy, energy efficiency and reforestation. We agree whole-heartedly with CarbonFund.org’s motto, "Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t."

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Are "Arbor Teas" and "New World Tea" the same company?

Yes! As of October 2007, Arbor Teas is the new company name for New World Tea. These days, it seems that unless your company moniker involves some computer-generated mumbo-jumbo, there will undoubtedly be another business out there with a confusingly similar name. Well, unbeknownst to us, that seems to have been the case with our former name, New World Tea. So, after a few tears, we decided to go back to our roots to find our new name. Our hometown – the delightful City of Ann Arbor, MI – has nurtured this company from the start, so why not pay homage to it? Thus, “Arbor Teas” was born. Same company, same owners, same philosophy – different name!

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