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Resources & FAQs

Culinary Recipes

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5-24 = 10%, 25 or more = 15%

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Welcome to the Resources and Frequently Asked Questions page. Here you will find a wealth of information that is not already answered in product descriptions, as well as additional resources that you may need. If you find that you still have a question after perusing this page, remember that you may reach us Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm Pacific time at (800) 227-4530, (415) 861-7174, or via email (info@sfherb.com).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Ordering & Policy Questions



Herb, Spice, & Culinary Questions

Tea Questions

What is white tea?Does tea have a shelf-life?
What is green tea?How much caffeine does tea have?
What are the differences among your green teas?What is a tisane?

Oil & Extract Questions

What is the difference between essential and fragrance oil?Are fragrance oils skin-safe?
Is your vanilla extract pure?

Potpourri & Miscellaneous Questions

Are the products in the potpourri section safe for food use?
Which is bigger, the 0 or 00 gelatin capsules?How do I seal the sealable tea bags?

Do you have wholesale prices?

We are a re-pack wholesaler offering a full line of packaged spices, herbs, teas, and potpourri. All prices both on the website and print catalog are wholesale. We sell direct to both small businesses and consumers.

Do you drop-ship orders?

We do not offer any drop-ship services. All orders are shipped directly to customers and are sent with San Francisco Herb name and contact information on boxes or packing slips, in case there are any issues that arise during transit.

How long does it take to receive an order?

Most orders will be shipped the day after receipt of order, except for US Postal Service shipments which depart every Friday (or the day prior if a holiday). Delivery times are based on UPS Ground or US Postal Service. UPS tracking information can automatically be sent if an email address is provided, or estimated delivery can be provided on request.

Do you accept orders for less than $30.00?

We generally maintain a $30.00 minimum order. However, if necessary we can waive this minimum, though a $7.00 small order fee will be charged along with shipping charges. If you are ordering an item that was out of stock on your last order the small order fee will be waived, though shipping charges will still apply.

What is your privacy policy?

We do not sell, rent, or distribute our customer information to anyone. All customer information is considered strictly confidential.

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How much will I pay for shipping and handling?

We only charge customers exact shipping rates, except in cases where extra insurance is added to a box. This is why, when placing an order, you will receive an estimated shipping cost. The exact shipping cost is not known until your order is physically boxed up and weighed. This prevents us from having to charge any markup on shipping fees.

Do I need a resale number to buy from you?

Only California customers that intend to resell products purchased from us need to provide resale information. California customers without resale numbers will be charged sales tax when applicable.

Are your products organic?

We are not certified as a warehouse to offer Certified Organic products. We are, however, registered to handle organic products. This means that we are able to sell Certified Organic products in their original case size.

Do your products contain allergens?

The Code of Federal Regulations listing of major known allergens includes peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean, tree nuts, and wheat. All of our products containing any major known allergen are explicitly labeled with the common or usual name of the allergen. While our manufacturing and packaging practices attempt to reduce and eliminate any cross-contact of products with known major food allergens, our products are packaged on machinery that packages tree nuts, soy products, and dairy products.

 What is your vanilla powder and how can I use it?

Our vanilla powder is dextrose (a simple sugar) that has been sprayed with vanilla extractives. It is ideal for flavoring coffee, sprinkling on desserts (similar to powdered sugar), or for use in baking mixes. You can substitute vanilla powder in place of vanilla extract in recipes - use the same amount of powder in place of extract (e.g. 1 tsp powder instead of 1 tsp extract).

What is honey powder?

Honey powder is a blend of mild dehydrated honey and maltodextrin (a sugar). It can be used to mildly sweeten beverages or for baking. Soapmakers can also use powdered honey in the production of cold process soaps. It has a somewhat starchy, mild powdered-sugar like flavor.

Is your mustard powder hot, like the Coleman's brand?

Our mustard powder is very hot, and is similar to Coleman's mustard. It is great to spice up sauces and marinades, and works well (though very hot!) in making prepared mustard.

Can I use star anise to replace anise seeds?

Star anise is much stronger in flavor and less sweet than anise seeds. We do not recommend substituting star anise for anise seeds in recipes.

What kind of bay leaves do you have?

We offer only Turkish bay leaves (Lauris nobilis), which is the "true" bay leaf with a classic warm, spicy, Mediterranean flavor. We no longer carry the California bay leaf, which is generally thinner and more attractive in color and shape. The California bay leaf is almost always too camphorous and sharp in taste for most recipes.

What is the difference between Californian and Egyptian dill?

Our California dill is greener and fresher, with a brighter flavor. Egyptian dill, on the other hand, is an olive green color with less brightness and a basic dill taste.

Where is your saffron from, and what grade is it?

We only carry one brand specific saffron imported from Spain. The brand is called "The Gathering of Saffron" and is the whole saffron threads. Our saffron is graded "Select," which is the second highest grade offered. It comes with packed date, crop year, and grade.

Why is saffron so expensive?

Saffron is the stigma picked from the flower of Crocus sativa. Each flower only produces three stigma, and it takes about 75,000 flowers to produce a pound of saffron. There are approximately 500 threads per gram.

What are the differences in your cayenne powders?

The higher the number, the hotter the cayenne pepper. We grade our cayennes at 40m Heat, or 40,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), 60m Heat (60,000 SHU), and 90m Heat (90,000 SHU). Cayenne peppers can reach 180,000 to 200,000 SHU. The Scoville scale rates how much a pepper extract must be diluted in sugar syrup until the heat is no longer detectable. For example, our 90m Heat cayenne must be diluted 90,000-fold in order for the heat to no longer be detected.

What are the differences between Lampong and Telicherry black pepper?

Lampong black pepper is a smaller, aromatic peppercorn from Indonesia. It offers a strong, hot peppery taste when cracked or ground. Telicherry black pepper is a larger peppercorn from India. It has a greater complexity to its pepper flavor and is preferred by the majority of chefs over Lampong.

Are your banana chips sweetened?

Yes, our banana chips are sweetened with sugar.

Do any of your products contain MSG?

We always list all ingredients on anything that is a blend. None of the products we offer contain MSG (Monosodium glutamate).

What is arrowroot powder?

Arrowroot powder is the edible starch from the "obedience plant" (Maranta arundinacea). It is used like cornstarch to thicken sauces and pie fillings. Unlike cornstarch, arrowroot has no flavor of its own.

What are the differences between Greek and Mexican oregano?

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare) is true oregano. It is a member of the mint plant family (Lamiaceae) with the typical citrus-like/minty flavor, and is similar - though less intense - to marjoram. Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is a separate plant, in the verbena plant family (Verbenaceae). It has a flavor very similar to true oregano but with a stronger, hot celery-like flavor.

What is white tea?

White tea is the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, that are picked when the leaf buds are immature. These leaves are lighter in color, hence the term "white" tea. White tea is reputed to be richer in antioxidents than green, oolong, and black teas.

Does tea have a shelf life?

One should use tea within a year of purchase. True teas (from the Camellia sinensis plant) should be stored in glass or tin. Tea may also be frozen in protective packaging if planning to store for longer than one year.

What is green tea?

Green tea is the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) that have been steamed or heated to halt the oxidation of the leaves. The leaves of the tea plant darken as they oxidize - which is what produces both oolongs and black teas.

How much caffeine does tea have?

Teas have varying levels of caffeine, with white and green teas generally having less caffeine than oolongs, and black teas having the most. Compared to coffee, tea has about half or less the caffeine per cup, and you can remove as much as 80% of the caffeine from your tea by "washing" the leaves (rinsing your leaves with hot water and then immediately draining) before steeping.

What are the differences among your green teas?

We offer a variety of green teas with distinctive flavor characteristics:
Dragonwell #4 A full leaf green tea from China. It has a complex, mellow, green flavor.
Genmai Cha A blend of full leaf Bancha green tea and toasted rice from Japan. It is a wholesome mellow tea with a slight nutty flavor from the toasted rice.
Gunpowder A tightly machine-rolled green tea leaf from China. It has a robust, sharp green flavor with a subtle undertone from the pan-firing.
Mandarin A whole leaf flavored sencha green tea that has subtle, sweet, citrus notes.
Panfired A slightly stemmy basic green tea from Taiwan. It has a classic green tea taste.
Pomegranate A whole leaf sencha green tea from China blended with rose petals and pomegranate flavor. It produces a cup with a sweet berry/pomegranate flavor over the mellow green tea taste.
Yun Wu (Cloud Mist) A long, wiry, twisted leaf green tea from China. It has a vegetal, grassy taste.

What is a tisane?

A tisane (or ptisan) is a synonym for an herbal tea. This word is often used to describe herbal infusions that have no true tea in them (i.e. no leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis). Examples of popular tisanes include Chamomile, Peppermint, and Rooibos.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are oils that are distilled or pressed from plant material (e.g. leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, or peels). There is nothing added to an essential oil to extend or preserve the oil. Some essential oils are known as "commercial" and are blends of essential oils (i.e. Lavender 40/45% is a blend of Lavandula angustifolia, lavandin, and natural Linayl acetate - all naturally-occurring compounds found in lavender).

Is your vanilla extract pure?

Yes, our vanilla extract meets or exceeds the specified US FDA regulations of a pure vanilla extract. Our vanilla extract is a blend of Bourbon vanilla beans from Madagascar, alcohol (35%), and purified water.

Are the products in the potpourri section safe for food use?

There are natural products in the Crafting Botanicals section that are safe for herbal tea or culinary use. We put them in the potpourri section of our catalog because they are sold more often for that application. If not sure about a product, just ask our sales staff about food use by calling us, toll-free, at (800) 227-4530.

What are the differences among your two grades of lavender?

Our lavender is graded primarily by color and then by application.

Our #2 lavender is a greyish-blue color, with a strong and bright lavender scent. It is preferred for sachets, pillows, soaps, and other uses where the fragrance is desired above color.

Our #1 lavender is a good medium-blue color, with a more subtle floral lavender fragrance. It is best utilized for culinary dishes (particularly savory ones) and in display potpourri and crafts.

Which is bigger, the 0 or 00 gelatin capsules?

The 00 capsule is the larger of the capsule sizes we carry. It would be considered a medium-sized capsule, whereas the 0 capsule would be considered small.

How do I seal the sealable tea bags?

One side of each tea bag is open, so that the tea bag may be filled with loose tea. Simply place each filled tea bag on a cutting board or clean, heat-resistant surface, and seal with the tip of a hot laundry iron. We have found that, for best results, you should use the cotton setting, or the very highest setting without steam. Sealing takes virtually no time - if you look carefully, however, you will be able to notice that as the heat seal binds, the color of the tea bag will become more opaque.


All of the information on this page is intended solely for informational/educational purposes.


Downloadable Resources

1. Rehydration and substitution information (click to download)

2. Newsletter archives

3. Checking Spice Freshness article (click to download)

4. Resale Permit Form (For California businesses only; click to download)

5. Printable Mail Order Form (click to download)