Frequently Asked Questions/Help

Find quick answers to your questions below...

ALLERGEN NOTICE: Our teas may have been processed in a factory that also processes tree nuts.

Brewing Tips

The water you use should be fresh, and most importantly, it should not contain a lot of minerals, especially calcium or iron and have a neutral pH. If you use “hard” water – water with a high mineral content – the minerals can affect the final flavor of the tea.

If you have teas that need a longer steeping time, like black and green teas, you should try to use a teapot that resists cooling. Cast iron is especially good, but expensive (and heavy!). The more traditional ceramic and porcelain teapots are also very good, as they are good insulators – and of course can be very beautiful!

Over time, especially when brewing black teas, a pot can develop a darkish film from the tannin in the tea. This can alter the taste of the tea, especially true if you brew a subtly flavored white or green tea in the pot.

Our tea descriptions list the recommended temperature and time range for each particular tea. When we ship you your tea, we include these recommendations to help you enjoy your tea to the fullest. While you are encouraged to experiment with temperatures and steep times to find what is perfect for you, please keep in mind that extending steep times can make some teas bitter or more astringent. The exceptions to this are Rooibos and herbals which may be steeped for as long as you want. Steeping for too short a time is equally as problematic. Tea must be given enough time to release it's flavor and aroma.

The tea to water ratio is a matter of taste. Adding extra tea to the water will just result in a stronger, bolder flavor to the tea. As a rule of thumb, about 1-2 teaspoons (3 grams) of tea per cup is usually about right. If making 1 gallon of tea, 8-16 teaspoons (25 grams) is a good place to start. Some teas are open and light while others are rolled and heavy. This makes measuring tea by volume (a teaspoon) inaccurate. A teaspoon of a gunpowder is going to weigh more than a teaspoon of dragonwell. For this reason, measuring using a scale is preferred. Having said that, tea is a personal choice and over time you will learn how to best make your tea with whatever measuring device you choose.

Add the tea before the water or it will not properly steep.

All of our teas are in the upper echelon of quality teas. This means that they can be steeped several times before loosing flavor. A good rule of thumb is to add 30 seconds to each additional steep (for example: 1st steep: 2 minutes, 2nd steep 2 minutes 30 seconds, 3rd steep 3 minutes, etc.) A white tea will generally steep 2 or 3 times while a Pu-erh can be steeped 10 times or more with other teas falling in between. Keep in mind that most of the caffeine is released during the first steeping.

If you desire a stronger flavor, you must use more tea.

When brewing some teas, a white fuzz develops in the bottom of my glass.

The tender buds used in making some teas contain fine, soft white hairs which may detach and collect during brewing. There is no danger in consuming them.

What harvest period makes the best tea?

Teas that are made from the youngest leaves of the year, also called the First Flush, are the most sought after and usually most expensive. We suggest that you try teas harvested at different times and make that decision for yourself.

Why are Pre Qing Ming and First Flush teas more expensive than teas picked later in the season?

Most people consider Pre Qing Ming and first flush teas superior to all others in flavor and aroma. For this reason, demand is very high for these teas and supply is very limited due to the very short harvest period.

Can you explain the different grades of tea?

Teas are graded based on harvest time, leaf size and leaf shape. Most of the teas we carry are whole leaf, but some are broken leaf. A broken leaf is not necessarily less desirable than a full leaf. Leaves are sometimes purposefully broken during the processing to affect the fermentation process. Whole leaf and broken leaf each have a different grading scale. The grading scale also varies for the country of origin. We will not sell teas graded as fannings or dust (which are used to make bagged teas).

What are old tea trees and ancient tea trees?

Tea trees that are between 10 and 100 years old are called "Old." Any tree older than 100 years is called "ancient" or "old arbor". Some ancient trees are still being farmed today that are well over 1000 years old. The older a tree gets, the deeper and more spread out their roots become. This allows the tree to take up more and different nutrients. True connoisseurs of ancient teas can identify the mountain on which the tea was grown based only on the flavor which changes as different nutrients are available on different mountains.

Do you offer any quantity discounts?

Yes. Discounts are given based the number of items being purchased. The necessary quantity can be reached with 1 particular item or many. The discount applies to all items in the cart.

5% discount on entire order when purchasing 2 - 3 items.
10% discount on entire order when purchasing 4 - 9 items.
15% discount on entire order when purchasing 10 or more items.
(For example: 5 50g bags of Akita Super Sencha Green Tea and 5 50g bags of Moon Swirl White Tip Green Tea will get a 15% discount on the entire order.)

You can check your cart for your discount percentage and dollar amount. Discounts do not apply to Deal Of The Day items.

How much do you charge for shipping?

For orders totaling less than $25.00, you have the option of using a low fixed shipping charge of $3.99.
Orders totaling $25.00 or more can ship free.

Please note that if you select the $3.99 flat rate shipping or free shipping option, we will ship by the least expensive method available. In general, orders weighing less than 13 ounces will be shipped USPS First Class. Orders weighing more than 13 ounces will be shipped USPS Priority.

If either USPS Priority or USPS Express is selected, you will pay the actual shipping price and we will ship in that manner regardless of the amount of the order.

How do you package your tea?

We ship our teas in food safe plastic bags with one side black and the other side clear. This allows our tea to be examined visually prior to opening. The bags are heat sealed and contain a zipper lock to keep your tea fresh after opening. Samples will be shipped in triple layered bags: a layer of paper lining the inside, a layer of aluminum in the middle to block the air, and a cellophane layer covers the outside. The bag top is then folded over and held closed with a wire tie.

We sell tea in increments of 50 grams (1.75 ounces). We may package up to 450 grams (15.87 ounces) of the same tea in a single bag.

Is it OK to store my tea in the bag used for shipping?

Yes, it is fine to keep your tea in the bag it was shipped in. These bags do a very good job of blocking air and moisture when kept closed. You will need to keep the bags in a cool, dark location. We do, however, sell tins which block all light and create an air-tight environment.

When will my order ship?

Orders typically ship the following business day. We do ship USPS on Saturdays.

What if something is wrong with my order when it arrives?

Please contact us as soon as possible after discovering the problem so we can devise a solution.

What is your return policy?

Unfortunately we cannot accept returns of tea if opened. Tea is a food product and cannot be resold. Non-tea items can be returned or exchanged if the item is unused and undamaged. Contact us as soon as possible to obtain individual instructions. Forbidden City Tea will not pay for shipping the items to us. The item must be returned within 15 days of delivery. If the returned item is determined by us to be used, damaged, or otherwise nonreturnable, we will not refund or exchange the item. You will be required to pay postage if you want to have the used or damaged product returned to you. Any mistakes made by us will be happily and quickly corrected with no additional cost to you.

How do you protect my credit card information? It is safe to give you my credit card information?

You can shop at www.forbiddencitytea.com with confidence. We have partnered with Stripe.com to accept credit cards and electronic check payments safely and securely for our customers.

The Stripe.com Payment Gateway manages the complex routing of sensitive customer information through the electronic check and credit card processing networks.

The company adheres to strict industry standards for payment processing, including:

  • 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology for secure Internet Protocol (IP) transactions.
  • Industry leading encryption hardware and software methods and security protocols to protect customer information.
  • Compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
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