Food Drinks

Ti Ora tea maker Alla Heta shares her secrets to making a good cup of tea

It's all in the amount of time you spend steeping it.

New Zealanders love a good cup of tea. It's often our go-to brew in the afternoons and when catching up with family and friends. You'll often hear Kiwis talk about needing 'a cup of tea and a lie down'.

Alla Heta crafts the Ti Ora brand blends of teas and is one of only a few tea and coffee specialists in New Zealand. Here, we ask Alla to share her tea-making secrets. She divulges how Ti Ora teas are crafted and what the health benefits of drinking tea are. Alla also reveals the secret to making a really good cup of tea.

Describe the process involved in creating Ti Ora teas

The process begins with sourcing, where we determine the right tea type for the blend, then we marry that tea with accompanying ingredients. Special emphasis is placed on the New Zealand botanicals which were chosen to complement the tea. From there we blend the ingredients together long enough to ensure an even blend - but not too long. This ensures that the tea and other ingredients aren't damaged.

The last step is packing. In this stage we pack the tea in pyramid bags at the right weight to release the perfect flavour. Pyramid bags are amazing for Ti Ora because they are designed to allow the larger tea leaves to open up and deliver an optimum brew.

Tell us how the botanicals are selected for Ti Ora tea

We chose three NZ botanicals for our Ti Ora range - Kawakawa, Horopito and Manuka.

These NZ botanicals are relatively common, which allows for sustainable sourcing. Kawakawa is perfect to blend with our Sencha green tea due to the size of the dry leaf and unique fresh flavour profile.

Horopito is warming and slightly peppery with citrus notes, and compliments our Ti Ora Chai perfectly.

Manuka leaf has a strong unique flavour. By blending this with our Ti Ora fruit and herbal range we found the size of leaf and flavour balance which was perfect.

What are your favourite Ti Ora blends?

This is totally dependent on my mood. That said, my go-to Ti Ora blend is Green Tea with Lemongrass, Ginger and Kawakawa. Cinnamon Chai with Horopito is great late in the evening as a treat. Camomile with Manuka leaf is perfect to calm me down after a big day.

What makes you passionate about tea?

So many great conversations start over a cup of tea, and I've loved drinking it for as long as I can remember. I'm lucky that I get to source tea from all around the world; the flavours one can create are endless. It's rewarding to be able to create a perfect balance in the finished product.

What are the health and wellness benefits to drinking tea?

The physiological impact of caffeine is well documented. In recent years there has been much documented about the impact of polyphenols, which are naturally occurring micro nutrients in plants, and their role as an antioxidant.

This said, we generally recommend that customers seek health advice from their trusted health professional to understand the impact of tea as an element in their path to wellness.

What’s the best way to drink your tea?

The best way to enjoy tea is just the way you like it, but remember tea needs time to brew. Don't just dunk your tea bag and throw it away; give it at least three minutes to brew.

During the first minute of steeping the tea will develop colour. In the second minute flavours will extract. It's in the third minute that the magic happens, when all the antioxidants from the leaf are released. If you dislike a strong tea just brew it and dilute it. Make sure you always use freshly boiled water for your cup of awesomeness.