This is a guide to the different types of Chinese tea.
There are a lot of ways to classify teas. But, usually it is categorized into four basic types namely; Black, Green, Oolong and White depending on their processing method, color and their taste after the infusion.
Camellia Senensis, the mother of all tea. This plant is responsible for the production of different variations of Green, Oolong, White and Black Teas.
Because of the different processing methods undergone by these teas, it resulted to over two thousand types of teas that we know of today.
Below are brief insights on the processing methods used to create the different types of tea:
Tea Type: White Tea
These type of tea is the least processed and great amount of care is needed to pluck only the finest and young leaves for the creation of white tea. Steaming and Drying are the process needed to make a white tea, absence of other process in tea making, basically makes it unchanged or as it is from the moment it was picked.
Majority of the cell damage in our body is due to oxidation that is why we need anti-oxidants to help repair damage cells. And this tea is full of anti-oxidants which is 50 times greater than those found in Green Tea according to Linus Pauling Institute.
Tea Type: Green Tea
After they are picked, green tea leaves are spread out in the air to let it dry and wither.
The process makes the tea leaves flexible and soft for pan frying, this helps prevent oxidation through fermentation. After that, the tea leaves are then twists, rolled, curls and make into a ball-like shape for packaging.
Lastly, the tea leaves are dried through firing which retains all the nutrients while baking in the natural flavor and fragrance of the tea.
The whole process helps preserve the active and beneficial substances in the fresh tea leaves so they all be release during infusion.
Green Tea is packed with a lot of nutrients and antioxidants that has a great effects on our body.
Some of the proven health benefits of Green Tea includes; improves our brain function, loss weight, prevent the risk of cancer and a lot more.
Tea Type: Oolong Tea
These semi-fermented Chinese tea creates a unique flavor and color that is somewhere between Black and Green Tea.
Making an Oolong Tea involves plucking the tea leaves and spreading it out under direct sunlight to make the leaves softer, reduce its moisture and wither.
The next step will be to put the leaves in a bamboo basket and shake it in order for the edges of the leaves to be bruised. After that, tea leaves are then laid out in shade for them to dry.
This process is repeated a couple of times in order for the leaves turn red and ferment. The oxidation process doesn’t affect the center of the leaves thus they all still remain green.
The semi-fermentation process involve in Oolong tea differs from region to region and what type of Oolong tea.
Additionally, this process creates tea that has much longer shelf life than that of White and Green tea and it is a highly-guarded secret by some tea producers.
The difference in fermentation can be around 60 percent for a classic Formosa and 20 percent for a “Green” Oolong tea.
The fermentation process is then put into a halt via pan-frying the leaves at high temperature which helps lock the unique characteristic of Oolong tea.
Tea Type: Black Tea
Complete fermentation process that ensures full oxidation is what makes Black Tea different from Oolong and Green Tea.
The process involves withering the tea leaves for a much longer period of time so most of the moisture in the leaves will be dried out. After which, the tea leaves are then rolled and broken so their aroma will be release.
Next step involves spreading out the tea leaves in layers to be properly oxidize. In the oxidation process, characteristic flavors begin to release and also in this process, is where the leaf color darkens.
After the leaves had been fully developed, they are then fired in big ovens which helps stabilize their flavor, thus enabling the tea to retain its freshness and last long until the time they are put into a boiling water.
The last part of the process involves sorting and separating the tea leaves according to its size; Fannings (smallest size that are suitable for tea bags), broken leaves and whole leaf, after which they are rated for quality.
According to the scientist at the US department of Agriculture, Black tea helps reduce cholesterol in our body between 7-11%.
Tea Type: Organic Tea
From the name itself, these type of tea are being grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals that can harm the environment.
Organic teas are Fair Trade and Organic certified which means that from cultivation, handling and packaging, the tea was carefully inspected to ensure the authenticity of the claim of being organic.
This kind of certification is given and performed by independent third-party certifying agency.
More than just a simple catch-all phrase, the term Fair Trade certified means fair wage and additional benefits was given to all tea-estate workers and tea growing communities from better housing, education and healthcare assistance.
Tea Type: Blended Tea & Chai
To create flavored tea or create a new tea taste, one must blend tea with some spices, fruits and other natural flavors.
And Chai is among these flavored tea blends.
These type of tea are usually drink with twice the strength added with right amount of sugar and milk. But, there are people saying that they also taste great when drink at regular strength, straight or with a bit of honey on it.
These tea type uses Nilgiri Teas, which does not cloud when iced and taste smooth, thus making them the right type of tea if you want to make an iced tea.
Tea Type: Herbal Tea
These type of tea is not made from Camellia Senensis, they are based on different plants such as rooibos, honey bush, mint and chamomile with natural flavorings extracted from freshly ground spices and fruits.
Some popular herbal tea includes Rooibos, Lemongrass, Mint and Chamomile. Rooibos is a caffeine-free red tea from South Africa. These tea is widely use in creating other flavorings and flavored herbal blends.