Different Types of Tea
Black Tea is a classification of tea that is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis and is completely oxidized unlike its white, green and oolong tea relatives. Oxidation refers to the process by which the tea leaves are aged in a climate-controlled room until they turn darker in color. Oxidation is a key factor in the development of flavor and aroma which gives each tea its color, strength and briskness. The tea is then rolled, shaped and dried by baking carefully so as not to overcook the leaves. Each process will add its own signature to the taste and aroma.
Green tea is a classification of tea that is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis and has undergone minimal oxidation. Oxidation refers to the process by which the tea leaves are aged in a climate-controlled room until they turn darker in color. Green tea is slightly withered before being baked to stop the oxidation process. Green tea has long been associated with many Asian cultures and is now consumed in the West where black tea has traditionally been dominant. In China, green tea has long served as both beverage and method of traditional medicine. In the West green tea is now being recognized and consumed for its medicinal benefits including high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. With its mild flavor and medium caffeine level this tea is enjoyable when served hot or chilled.
Herbal Tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion that typically is not made from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). These infusions are prepared by combining hot water with fruits, leaves, roots or grains. The Chinese refer to herbal tea as liong cha (Cantonese) or liang cha (Mandarin). Herbal teas date back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient China, nearly as long as history extends. The benefits of herbal tea are as varied as the plants and flowers used to brew it. Lavender improves the quality of sleep by relaxing the nervous system, rose buds and rose petals are a natural source of vitamin C, marigold cleanses the body of toxins, and peppermint calms the stomach and eases a sore throat. Naturally decaffeinated these teas are not only healthful but delicious and can be enjoyed hot or chilled.
Jasmine tea historically, is based on green or white tea with the addition of jasmine blossoms. Tea scented with jasmine has been a specialty dating back over 800 years to the Song Dynasty. The jasmine plant grows in the high mountain regions of China and is picked in the summer when the flowers are fresh and in bloom. The jasmine blossoms are blended with tea during the evening hours when the jasmine opens to release its fragrance. It takes several hours for the tea to absorb the fragrance and flavor of the blossoms. The resulting flavor of jasmine tea is subtly sweet, making it the most famous scented tea in China.
Pu-erh, Pu'er, Puer, also Po Lei or Bolay is a variety of post-fermented tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Post-fermentation is a process by which tea leaves undergo a microbial fermentation process after they are dried and rolled. This tea is available as either loose leaf or in various compressed forms and can also come either ripened (shou) or raw (sheng). The ripened tea has gone through a post-fermentation process and the raw tea goes through a gradual darkening with exposure to environmental elements. All pu'erh is created from a mostly unoxidized large leaf green tea. This tea is being lauded for its health benefits, particularly in the promotion of shrinking fat cells, boosting the immune system and stimulating weight loss. Pu'erh is high in caffeine and will provide a refreshing bold flavor.
Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) which begins its processing immediately after picking. The leaves are withered under the sun for a short period of time. They are then placed in baskets and shaken which intentionally bruises the leaves in order to begin the process of oxidation. The leaves are then spread out to dry and then quickly fired in hot woks to stop the fermentation process. The degree of fermentation can range depending on the production style. The taste of oolong ranges from sweet and fruity with a honey aroma to thick and woody with a roasted aroma. Some oolong is rolled into long curly leaves and some is wrap-curled into small beads. Rolling however is the most traditional. Popular with tea connoisseurs of south China, oolong is also known to promote digestive health and provide balance and harmony.
White tea comes from the buds and leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant which are withered naturally sunlight and then lightly processed to prevent oxidation. This process preserves the characteristic flavor of the white tea. White tea gets its name from the fine silvery white hairs on the unopened bud of the tea plant. These hairs give the plant an almost whitish appearance. Because white tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis, it shares many of the same health benefits as black and green tea but with a significantly lower caffeine level. Since white tea undergoes minimal processing it is less labor intensive to manufacture. However, the selection of the tea is extremely rigorous and only the plucking of very young tea leaves with the finest hair can produce the highest quality white tea.