Frequently Asked Questions

Your Questions About Sophie's Answered

Buying From Sophie's

If you contact us directly by calling or emailing us, we will go into depth about any of our teas.

We offer free shipping for all orders over $20.

Because we only sell loose leaf tea, we do not offer returns.

International shipping is not offered through our store. If you are an international customer interested in purchasing, contact us directly at info [at] sophiescuppatea [dot] com.

Yes! Please see our gifts section.

About Tea

Higher grade tea provides different flavors and aroma experiences.  Aside from the sensory experience of tea, much research continues to reveal that tea may benefit many aspects of human health.   

Consumers can get clues about levels of teas from various signals.  Price is the obvious signal.  Higher level experiences are more expensive.  Tea owners with experience going to tea farms and actually seeing and understanding the process of creating teas will often be excellent sources for consumers to obtain high quality tea experiences.

Shops that provide useful insights into brewing and repeatability of an experience are extremely valuable to consumers.  Many shops leave the experience of brewing tea in the consumers hands.  This is a weak move because most consumers only have a very rough idea of the elements that go into making an outstanding cup of tea.

If buying tea for a large cup experience, the sellers should be able to provide precise brewing instructions. 

Tea shop owners who have been in the field can provide many insights on how to match your needs with the best tea for the price range you are looking for.  Also, tea shop owners can frequently provide stories from the farms and the processing plants that can be of interest to consumers.  Last, tea shop owners who have spent time with farmers, agricultural scientists, producers and tea masters can provide valuable insights into understanding elements of quality of teas.

In general, there are blends, there are low grade, middle grade and high grade loose leaf teas.  Many of the blends are done to achieve an approximately repeatable flavor.  Also, many of the blends can be consumed with sugar and milk.  The same can be true for low grade loose leaf teas as well.  Once one starts buying middle and higher grade teas, presumably the reason is to experience unique flavors and aromas.  At this price level it does not make sense to use milk and sugar because they alter the original flavor of the tea.

This depends on how it is stored.  High grade teas can and often do improve with time under proper storage conditions.  Proper storage conditions, at a minimum, mean out of sunlight, in a cool dark area away from other odors.  Tea should never be stored with coffee or spices.  Green tea is the hardest to store for any length of time.  All other categories of tea can be stored for many years if the storage guidelines are followed.

Elements of a great cup of tea are:

- Highest quality tea leaves you can find

- Best water you can find

- Top quality teaware

- Correct water temperature

- Right ratio of tea leaves

- Attention to brewing time

Tea rhythm refers to being in a state of presence as you make, evaluate and consume tea.  In short, careful understanding and attention to details that are important in brewing and evaluating tea help one focus and bring deeper understanding of tea.  This is useful for learning a methodology for bringing yourself into a heightened state of awareness and gaining a deeper understanding of anything you are working on. 

Single Source Artisanal Tea

Spring picked handcrafted teas need lower temperatures because leaves are tender and many contain leaf buds.

Greens, Whites, Reds (Black--oxidized), Yellows and Raw Black (Sheng Pu) generally should be brewed at lower temperatures (165 degrees to 175 degrees).  By using this temperature range you are more likely to bring out the high notes of the fragrance and taste.

Wulongs (Oolongs) and Black (Fermented--Shou Pu) should generally be brewed at hotter temperatures (200 degrees).

Blended teas should generally be brewed at high temperatures.