Frequently Asked Questions/Help

Find quick answers to your questions below...


While tea is a naturally gluten free product, please be aware that these teas were grown in the open air, and at least partially processed in the open air. While unlikely, it is absolutely possible that an allergen or gluten was introduced to the tea at some point. By agreeing to the Terms And Conditions at checkout, you agree to hold Forbidden City Tea harmless and not liable for allergens or other foreign objects found in products we sell. Forbidden City Tea will replace or refund any tea found to contain a foreign object.

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 its flavor and aroma.

The tea to water ratio is a matter of taste. Adding extra tea to the water will 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.

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 as leaves are sometimes purposefully broken during the processing to affect the oxidation process. Whole leaf and broken leaf each have a different grading scale. The grading scale also varies for the country of origin and the type of tea. We will not sell teas graded as fannings or dust (which are used to make bagged teas).

Where do you ship to?

We ship world-wide, excluding China. Importing tea to the largest tea producer in the world is not impossible, just not practical.

How much do you charge for shipping?

With few exceptions (orders containing large items) orders totaling $80.00 or more with destinations in the United States or Puerto Rico give you the option of free shipping. These orders will be shipped USPS 1st Class or USPS Priority, which ever is cheaper. They will typically reach their destination within 3-5 business days after shipping.

For all other orders, you may have the option of shipping USPS 1st Class or USPS Priority Mail depending on the total weight and destination. By choosing one of these options, you will be charged the actual shipping fees charged to us. We use the USPS web portal to determine price and shipping options. There may be times when the USPS website is not responding and we are unable to obtain accurate real-time costs. Forbidden City Tea has no control over the USPS website and cannot be held responsible for any errors caused by it. If at any time, real-time shipping costs cannot be obtained and an order was placed, we will refund the difference of what was charged and the actual cost if you paid too much. If you were charged too little, we may ask you to pay the difference. If an additional payment to cover shipping costs is requested, Forbidden City Tea will not ship the order until payment is made. Forbidden City Tea reserves the right to cancel any order based on an insufficient shipping payment.

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 top to keep your tea fresh after opening. Samples may 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 loose 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. Tea cakes vary in weight.

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 an exceptional 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 which does not include US holidays. 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 with confidence. We have partnered with to accept credit cards and electronic check payments safely and securely for our customers.

The 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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