Welcome to our new column - Demystifying Tea. This is a section which we will invite folks from the Tea world to write a short presentation on a topic for our Coffeefolks. This month, we have Kelly Markgraff from Teema Tea present to us:


by Kelly Markgraf

TEEMA Hand with leaves.jpg

Three teapots sit side by side, filled with hot water and tea leaves.

You’ve put 

black tea in one,

white tea in another,

and green tea in the last. 

Two minutes pass, then three….

As you pour each of the teas, you notice the spectrum of color before you:

Smoky brown,

citrus-tinged amber,

shimmering emerald.

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You muse on how different each of the bushes must have been from one another to produce such a widely varied color (and flavor!) palette.

Then you read this.

In fact, you’ve just brewed — “steeped” to be exact — the same leaf in all three pots. Or at least, what started out as the same leaf. Theoretically, the all the teas you just prepared could have come from the same bush. What makes them so radically different in your cup is craftsmanship and processing. 

TEEMA Loose tea board SM.jpg

Camellia sinensis, or the tea plant, has been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years. Over the millennia, different hybrids or “cultivars” of the plant have been developed, but the tea plant is still the tea plant. A master craftsman can take six leaves from the same bush and, through a series of carefully controlled processing steps like oxidation, make six different types of tea — all with distinct flavor notes and drinking experiences.

Do you know what those six primary types of tea are?

We’ll save that one for next time……….

Kelly Markgraf is the Founder of TEEMA TEAS, an organic artisan tea company. Their entirely single-origin menu comes exclusively from one woman-owned plantation in Thailand, where every bush is cultivated organically and every leaf is plucked by hand. TEEMA trades directly with the farmers to help ensure they receive a higher price for their teas, and gives back to empower disadvantaged women through micro-loans. You can discover more at