Types of Tea

This blog wouldn't be complete without a thorough run through of the
different types of tea - of which there are many.

Let's start first of all with the most commonly known here in England
and that's black tea.

# Black Tea

As with all the different types of tea this comes from the same tea
plant whose Latin name is Camellia Sinensis. What makes the tea black
and gives it the distinct tea taste is the longer fermentation time of
the leaves which causes them to oxidize much more than with green tea.

This oxidation not only causes a stronger flavour but also increases the
levels of caffeine in the tea.

Although known as black tea in the West, that's not the case in the East

  • especially China. Where it is known as 'Crimson Tea' (hong-cha in
    Chinese and kocha in Japanese). Which as any regular drinker will note
    is a more apt description of the teas colour especially when first the
    water and tea meet.

# Green Tea

This is most popular in the east and is often considered a healthier
alternative to black tea (though not entirely true). It has undergone
much less oxidisation than black tea. It was China where green tea as
originally consumed and it's often mixed with Jasmine to produce Jasmine
tea. The varieties of green tea are just as numerous as for black tea.

# Oolong Tea

This has similarities to both black and green tea which isn't suprising
as the tea leaves of this variety are semi-oxidised. The leaves are
either rolled into long curls or into small balls (similar to Gunpowder
Tea - one of my favourites). The name in Chinese means Black Dragon Tea
and the origins of the name are oft disputed. This tea is traditionally
brewed to be strong and bitter to taste which will often have a slightly
sooty aroma and taste due to many varieties having been roasted on
charcoal.

# White Tea

This tea is a speciality tea in parts of China and is produced from the
youngest and freshest buds and leaves of the tea plant. White tea is
fast-dried and so doesn't have any of the oxidation of the other teas.
This results in a much lighter and fresher flavour. White tea as a
result also has a much lower caffeine content than any other tea -
including green tea.

White tea has been found to have many more of the good nutrients famed
for their health benifits in the other teas. These include antioxidant
catechins, theobromine and gallic acid.

Brewing white tea well can be difficult for the un-initiated and is very
dependent on the quality and water temperature used. One serving of 1-2
tsp can be used for 3 brews with the first brew being steeped for 3-6
minutes. Later brews can take upto 10 minutes to allow the flavours to
fully develop.

Pu Erh to follow...

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3 min. read