Thursday, December 10, 2015


Whether you serve a Christmas Tea Tonic with alcohol or on its own, this easy-to-make twist on iced tea will add a touch of magic to your festive drinks that will have friends and family asking for the recipe, guaranteed.

Christmas tea is available either loose or in pyramid tea bags here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Looking for a great little gift for someone you care about or for yourself this festive season?

Check out The Little Tin Of Tea Samples...

Visit TEA TOTAL to get yours now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


The Tealady, Anna Salek, talks you through the simple process of smoking food using Lapsang Souchong tea. Whether you use salmon, chicken, mushrooms, beef or even cheese, tea smoked food is easily done in your own home.  Take a look and have a go!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I'm often asked how to brew green tea so it doesn't taste bitter. In this video I'll share three simple tips for making green tea perfectly every time...

Enjoy and see you again soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I am really excited to tell you about our new offering at Tea Total. TEA TASTINGS.

We've now got a purpose built Tasting Room within our concept store at Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland. For years I've wanted to share the knowledge I've accumulated around tea, not to mention my enthusiasm for the intricacies of the beverage.

Tastings take around 1 and a quarter hours and cover a variety of teas: white, green, black, Darjeeling, fruit and herbal, 20 in total. Whether you're a staunch Tea Total drinker over many years or a relative newcomer to the tea scene, there's something for everyone.

The cost (investment into your tea knowledge) is $25 per person and includes refreshments, 2 free sample bags of your choice plus 15% discount on any products purchased at the tasting.

We have the following dates available before Christmas:
  • Tuesday 20th October at 10am 
  • Tuesday 3rd November at 6pm 
  • Saturday 14th November at 2pm 
  • Tuesday 24th November at 10am 

I have left December free to cater your private functions, groups of friends, Christmas gatherings etc. Cost is $300.

Please see here for more details. To book email or phone Bevan on 09 488 0818.

Yours in tea,

Anna Salek - The Tea Lady

P.S. For out of town customers, we're happy to accommodate group or individual bookings for your next Auckland visit.

Monday, September 28, 2015


For most of us tea drinkers, tea leaves or bags serve once to brew a cup and then end up straight in the bin. However, those lovely little leaves still have a lot to offer long after the pot has gone cold. 

There are many great ways old tea leaves can be used to get the most out of them. Here are just a few ideas…

1. Feed your plants

Tea for your plants...

Your garden and pot plants will love tea as much as you do. Sprinkling used tea leaves at the base of plants creates a great natural fertilizer. The leaves are still full of minerals that haven’t been extracted through brewing.

You can also refill your tea pot with cold water to make a weak second brew that can be used to water pot plants and help them thrive.
Tea for animal odours
2. Neutralize odours

Tea leaves naturally absorb odours; sprinkle some used leaves in a cat’s litter box, leave some out in the fridge or at the bottom of a bin to neutralize bad smells around the house. 

3. Wash your hands

Get rid of those lingering traces of garlic and onion on your hands by rubbing them with used green tea leaves before washing.

4. Sooth your skin

The tannins naturally found in tea can have anti-inflammatory properties. Cool used tea leaves and bags can provide relief to minor burns, stings and puffy eyes. Alternatively, add used tea to a bath for an all-over soothing soak.

But first, you need to have some tea to do this! Visit us at to enjoy your favourite brew and also try your hand at the suggestions above.

Monday, August 17, 2015


At TEA TOTAL we have always dared to be a bit different - we brought boutique loose leaf tea to New Zealand when gum boot was the only option on the menu.  We perfected our Manuka & Flower Detox tea long before Kim Kardashian uttered the words "flat tummy tea".

This August marks 20 years of pioneering the tea industry in the land of the long white cloud.  To celebrate we have created New Zealand's first concept tea store which captures everything we love about tea.  A playful but organised space to experience the world of tea and fall down the rabbit hole.  An area for tea connoisseurs and novices alike to engage the senses, explore and learn.

And finally a place to showcase our exquisite range of brew gear sourced from the Netherlands and beyond.

We would love for you to come and experience the TEA TOTAL Concept Store at 5 Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland.

Thank you for being part of the 20 years of TEA TOTAL.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


It is enough to break your heart - 800 unused tea bags buried, never to be drunk.
Japanese Lime Green Tea in a Pyramid Tea Bag

In Landcare Research scientist Dr Barbara Anderson's mind, it is all part of the plan to better understand climate change.

Anderson buried the tea bags to measure rates of organic decomposition across an altitudinal gradient at Mt Cardrona in Central Otago. When plant material decomposes, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Fast decay means more carbon in the atmosphere, while slower decay means more carbon stock in soil.

Pyramid-shaped tea bags were selected because the synthetic mesh bags did not decompose.

Decomposition was typically measured using hand-made bags of dried organic material, called "litterbags", she said.

"The litterbags are not only time-consuming to make but there's a huge amount of variance in the plant material in the bags unlike the tea bags which are standardised."

The tea bags serve just one part of Anderson's five-year Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. Decomposition rate was "one small piece in the puzzle of what will happen with climate change", she said. "The balance between carbon stored in the soil and carbon released back into the atmosphere is dependent on many factors, including temperature, and in turn has the potential to accelerate or buffer the effects of climate change."

Utrecht University in the Netherlands is operating a "citizen science" project, where people can do their own tea bag experiment and submit their results at

If you are looking to do your own experiment, TEA TOTAL has got Pyramid Shaped Tea Bags for you to use. While we cannot say what the result of your Climate Change Experiment will be, we can certainly vouch for the ability of our pyramid tea bags to make a great cup of tea – no matter the climate.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Although tea took some time to spread from China to Japan, many believe that Japan was where tea met perfection in the art of Cha-no-yu, or the Japanese tea ceremony. After arriving in Japan many schools of the tea ceremony began, with influences ranging from monks to samurai warriors. These separate schools existed until the 16th century, when Sen Rikyu, considered the highest tea master, brought together these differing principles and set forth the practice that is still followed many years later.

Today the tea ceremony is still practiced by many in Japan and abroad, and survives as an honoured and thriving tradition, rather than an antiquated relic. The essence of the tea ceremony has made it a poignant reflection on life, even in today’s world. Cha-no-yu’s fundamentals lie in the humility of the guests, appreciating the moment’s uniqueness in terms of time and place, season and those present, and the art of simplicity and balance in form, movement and objects. These three fundamentals have found their way outside of the tea room and into many aspects of Japanese life. Consider, for example, the simple architecture of houses and buildings in Japan, or the balance and harmony found in the shapes and textures of a garden or in ikebana style flower arrangements.

In the tea ceremony, humility and respect are expected of the guests and the host. The door to the sukiya, or tea house, is a low crawl space that requires all who enter to bow and humble themselves before entering the precious space. Once inside, the first thing he or she will see is a simple flower arrangement, and a scroll of artwork or poetic calligraphy. The guest must humble themselves again upon seeing the greatness of such a simple yet beautiful artwork, and also for the flowers that are considered to be great sacrifices, because they are cut from their roots and will soon die. The ephemeral nature of the flower also helps the guest to realize the ephemeral nature of this present time and the experience that he or she is about to share with others.

The ceremony itself can take hours to complete, and a lifetime to learn, so it would be best to discuss just the preparation of the matcha and the utensils used, as this can apply to every day enjoyment of the tea. The equipage needed for preparing matcha are the chawan (tea bowl), chasen (bamboo whisk), chashaku (bamboo tea scoop), furui (matcha powder sifter), hishaku (bamboo ladle), kama (large kettle), and an hearth or heat source. First the matcha powder is sifted in the furui, so that it is the perfect fine consistency; this is usually prepared beforehand in the tea ceremony. The kama is placed over the heat source and allowed to come to a simmering boil. Using the hishaku, one will dip into the kama to draw out water to use to warm the tea bowl. This water is discarded. Then, the matcha is measured into the chawan using 2 or 3 scoops of the chasaku. Another ladle of hot water (about 4 oz.) is drawn from the kama and poured into the bowl. Using the chasen, the tea is whipped into a thick and frothy substance. The tea can then be drunk directly from the bowl.  If the process seems too much for you, try Tea Total's Japanese Genmaicha.

While tea ceremony is an important aspect of Japanese life, there are many other ways that the Japanese people enjoy tea every day. Recently, Western-style black tea has become popular, especially for breakfasts that include bread or pastries.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


"Cup of tea?"
When tea was first introduced in England in the mid 1600’s, the consumption was limited by the high cost and also because of the segregation of tea being served in coffee houses that catered solely to men. Once tea became popular enough in the coffee houses, more specific tea houses began to be opened in London and elsewhere in the country. Here, men and women could both enjoy a cup of tea or buy some for home.

Afternoon tea, a tradition that is thought of being almost synonymous with the word “British,” did not become established until almost 200 years later. In those days, most people only ate two meals: a large breakfast late in the morning and a late dinner around 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening. Anna, Duchess of Bedford, can be credited for creating the tradition of afternoon tea. She would become hungry during the afternoon, in the long hours between breakfast and dinner. She began asking her servants to bring her some sweets and a cup of tea to ward away her hunger. Eventually she began sharing this custom with her friends, and afternoon tea soon became popular among the aristocratic class. The working class caught on quickly, especially as the afternoon meal was a good opportunity take a much needed break and spend time with friends. Later on in the 19th century, Queen Victoria’s love for afternoon tea was well known, as were her particular tastes for having a slice of lemon with her tea and her preference for certain cakes and strawberry jam.

Afternoon tea also gave way to another favourite tradition: the creation of tea gardens. Tea gardens were quiet places, created especially for taking in afternoon tea, with beautiful flowers, herbs and quaint outdoor furniture. Today tea gardens are not as popular as they once were, but one can still stumble across many throughout the English countryside.

In England today, the tradition of afternoon tea continues on in the home, in upscale hotels, in department stores and even in the small neighbourhood cafes and tea rooms found in every town. Whether it is a short break for a cup of tea and a small cookie, or a 3 course event of cakes, scones with jam and Devonshire cream, sandwiches and other treats, afternoon tea will continue to be a true English tradition. And tea itself will have a lasting place in English culture. Besides afternoon tea, the English consume large quantities of tea throughout the day, from breakfast to dinner and the last cup of the night.

This love for tea is not unique to the English alone, but is found in most citizens of the British Commonwealth, including all of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Image source:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Russian Tea Tradition
Tea became available in Russia in the 17th century, brought by the caravans of traders on camels who would make the cross-continent journey from China. This journey took almost an entire year to complete, resulting in tea being quite expensive and only available to the aristocratic class for many years. Everything changed in 1880 when the Siberian Railroad was opened, and the trip could now be done in just two short months. Tea became widely available, and was embraced by all social classes.

Around this same time, the samovar was introduced in Russia, and became the centerpiece of any Russian household, rich or poor. The samovar was a large decorative urn made from copper or silver, that could hold a large quantity of water. An inside chamber was heated with coals and kept the water hot and bubbling all day long, so that tea could be prepared on a moment’s notice. On top of the samovar, a small teapot rested and was kept warm, containing a very strongly brewed concentrate of tea called tscheinik.

When there was a keen urge for a cup of tea, it could immediately be prepared to the liking of the recipient by pouring out a small amount of the tscheinik, and then diluting it with hot water from a spigot on the samovar. This invention is of Chinese origin and soon came to be recognized as the symbol of Russian hospitality. If unexpected guests were to arrive in a Russian home, they could count on being served tea quickly thereafter. Even in the great expanse of Russian literature, from Tolstoy to Dostoyevsky, the samovar is consistently mentioned in scenes taking place in the Russian home, as a symbol of Russian hospitality and company.

Russian tastes in tea are quite unique compared to other countries. The concentrated tea found in the samovar’s teapot can be green, but is more often black tea from India or Sri Lanka. Russians will often use a blend of teas which has been smoked to varying degrees [Try Tea Total Lapsang Souchong]. Some believe this to be a taste that developed due to the Russian climate or local gastronomy, while others have the more romantic notion that this smoked tea is a reminder of the old caravan tea, which would become slightly smoked simply by the repeated exposure to campfires along the route. In fact, many tea companies have created smokey blends which are often called “Russian Caravan Tea.” [Try Tea Total Smokey Russian Caravan Blend] The preference for smokey tea would seem an odd combination with sweets, but the traditional way of drinking tea in Russia is to sip the tea through a sugar cube in the mouth, or by stirring a spoon of homemade jam into the cup before drinking. However it is prepared by the individual, tea can be found in any household and is enjoyed throughout the day.


Sunday, March 1, 2015


Tea in India only gained popularity as a national beverage in the 19th century after the British began creating large scale tea plantations in order to ensure adequate supplies for their country’s growing thirst. As a result India now is one of the world’s largest suppliers of tea, and yet because of this very recent history relative to the nations of the Far East, tea has not had time to appropriate any elaborate tea rituals as in Japan or China.

In India, tea is more a part of everyday life at home, work, on the streets and while traveling.

Cha-ya is the preferred style of tea sold and consumed on the streets, in train stations and in eateries. Cha-ya is traditionally a strong black tea, spiced with cardamom, fennel, cloves or other spices which is then sweetened with sugar and mixed with milk for a sweet and creamy beverage that many Westerners and Europeans would know as Chai tea.

Although it can be drunk alone, Cha-ya is often enjoyed with a savoury snack like samoosas. Usually street vendors or train stations will sell this tea in small clay cups that are only used once, and then smashed after use.
Cha-ya in clay cups - 

Whether enjoyed on the street or at home, Cha-ya provides respite from the heat or weariness from travel or work.

You can bring this Indian Tea Tradition into your home by making Cha-ya using tried and tested recipes or you could just go to Tea Total and get some TEA TOTAL Nepal Masala Chai tea to enjoy.

Whatever you choose, we hope you have your tea just the way you like it.

For more Chai and other great tasting teas, visit Tea Total and take your pick.


Monday, February 2, 2015


Before tea became the beverage of choice and a way of life, it was considered a medicinal staple. Tea was not only a treatment for individual ailments, but was also a general health tonic, purported to promote long life and vitality. Even today, in traditional Chinese medicine, green teas and pu-erhs are prescribed for a variety of ailments, especially as modern research has come to support many of these claims. Why not try these green teas?

It was not long before tea expanded its reach and was incorporated more and more into daily life, and began to be enjoyed solely for its own pleasures. Since the beginning of the Ming dynasty, teahouses sprung up all over the country, and people of all ages would come at all hours of the day to drink tea and enjoy each others’ company. In this way, tea was never confined to a strict time of the day, but could be taken at any time. Besides mealtime, tea is served to welcome guests as a form of respect, and is a long-held tradition in all classes.

The Chinese practice a form of tea ceremony called Gong Fu. In a Gong Fu style tea ceremony, the tea master preparing the tea for the group is considered an artist in his or her own right. Styles for pouring the water and tea vary individually, and many devote a lot of time practicing difficult and artistic manoeuvres. The equipment for this tea ceremony would be a clay Yi-Xing pot and several small teacups, a tea sink or shallow bowl for draining water into, and a few bamboo tools for handling the hot objects. Arranging the teapot and cups in a circular fashion over the tea sink or in the bowl, the tea master pours hot water into each to rinse the objects and to warm them so that the temperature of the tea is more consistent. This rinse water is discarded, and then a generous helping of tea leaves, usually oolong, is measured into the pot. More hot water is then poured into the pot and the tea leaves will begin steeping.

Every infusion of the tea leaves in Gong Fu ceremony is very quick, about 20 to 30 seconds. Hot water is usually poured over the outside of the teapot, and when the water is seen to be fully evaporated, the tea is ready to be poured. Then the tea master will begin pouring in a continuous flow around to each of the teacups, a little at a time, resulting in each person having the equal amount and strength of tea in his or her cup. After enjoying this first round of tea, the leaves may be re-steeped for many more infusions.

Gong Fu Tea Ceremony 

With or without ceremony, we hope you enjoy your tea just the way you like it in tea ware that suits you!

Monday, January 12, 2015


The Amazing Benefits of Tea

Improved health and wellness is the overarching ideal and physical state we all long for – whether we achieve this ideal state or not is another question entirely.

Kirstin Kirkpatrick – Wellness manager in Cleveland and contributor to The Huffington Post - wrote an article covering the top 6 amazing benefits of tea:

If you are trying to improve your health or drop a few pounds, think beyond superfoods and supplements, because this "super-drink" deserves your attention. The things we chew are not the only dietary factors that contribute to weight management, disease fighting, energy boosting and stress reducing. Consumed for thousands of years, tea has provided delicious medicinal benefits to many cultures around the globe.  Drink up - your overall health is about to get a lot better!

Tea can help you in maintaining a healthy weight. The Journal of Obesity found that mice fed a high fat diet and given compounds found in green tea gained weight at a slower rate than mice that were not fed the same compounds. The findings from this study suggest that green tea extracts may actually interfere with fat formation in the body. As a side note: green tea extracts should not be confused with bottled green tea drinks that may be full of added sugar. To get green tea extracts, opt for the real deal -- boiling water with a good old-fashioned teabag or loose tea! Tea Total Teas: Pure Unflavoured Teas

Green tea may help you see better. The eye, like any part of the body, can suffer oxidative stress -- making it more prone to disease.  Components in green tea positively affected the tissues of the eyes, especially tissue related to the retina. Drink on green tea lovers and protect your precious eyeballs! Tea Total Teas: Japanese Lime, Feng Shui and Jade Green Sencha

White tea can help you look younger!  Extracts in white tea inhibited wrinkle production by strengthening elastin and collagen.  Tea Total Teas: China White Hair, China Premium Snowbuds

Black tea can help to reduce stress levels. Stressed out? A cup of black tea may be just what you need. One study found that black tea actually helped in reducing levels of the stress hormones in study participants.  Tea Total Teas: Special Breakfast Blend, Assam Organic Breakfast

It may help you fight diabetes. A variety of caffeinated teas found that the caffeine in tea may help in reducing the overall risk of diabetes. Tea Total Teas: Good Strong Teas

Tea can make your ticker stronger! One study found that green tea helped to improve endothelial function rather quickly after consumption but resist the urge to add milk to your tea if you are drinking for better cardiovascular health! That's because the caseins in milk may actually decrease the cardioprotective benefits you get from tea according to one study, but if you like milk click here... Tea Total Teas: Good with milk

The tea-takeaway. You can use tea bags or go loose, drink it hot or drink it cold. Either way, tea is fabulous -- and so are all of its benefits. Tea Total Teas: Deluxe Pyramid Teabags


For more by Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D., click here.

To get your next TEA TOTAL TEA, visit