Quality Teas. Know The Differences
The Six Different Tea Types
Rather surprisingly, all teas - white, green, oolong, Pu'erh, herbal and black - are made using leaves of the same plant species. Whilst there are a number of varietals of the Camellia sinensis plant, as well as a range of climates, topographies and soils in which it is grown, the processing of leaves is what has led to the development of the diverse array of tea that we know and love.
Of all the teas, white teas are the least processed. As they are not crushed or rolled during processing, their flavours and aromas are particularly delicate and light on the palette, as well also, possessing the least amount of caffeine of all teas. White tea from the proper varietal and grown in the correct place is known as Silver Needle and is considered by many to be the gold standard. There are number of other types of white tea, such as White Peony, Tribute Eyebrow and Long Life Eyebrow, all of which hail from Fujian Province, China.
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Green tea, whilst presenting a more notable flavour to the palette than white tea, is more astringent and subtler than oolong or black tea. This is due to the the bypass of oxidation that allows green tea to retain most of its natural dark green color, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll and minerals, all of which contributes to its flavour profile. Whilst Sencha is most well-known and widely consumed, there are a number of different varieties of green tea so be sure to try them all!
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Oolong teas are halfway house between green and black tea as they undergo a process of semi–oxidation. This leads to the development of the body and complexity of a black tea, whilst retaining the brightness and freshness found in green teas - mmm, delectable. Da Hong Pao is considered to be the gold standard of oolong teas, although there are a number of other varieties along the spectrum that provide a host of interesting flavours.
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Black teas are considered to be the most popular teas in the Western world and, by definition, are those that have been fully oxidized. Although called black tea, the resultant cup is a more reddish brown to an intense dark brown – perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Brown tea doesn’t sound particularly appetising…
Black tea is grown and processed all over the world in varying geographies and climates, with some of the largest producers of black tea being India, Sri Lanka and Africa. In fact, half of the world’s tea production comes from India, the home of Assam and Darjeeling.
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Pu’erh teas are those that are aged and fermented, much like a fine wine. For it to be a true Pu’erh tea, it has to origin from the Yunnan province in China. To truly appreciate this tea, a degree of knowledge and connoisseurship is advised as this will further enhancing your experience. Although now more widely appreciated across the world, Pu’erh teas for many years were revered for the medicinal benefits in China, which range from curing hangovers to reducing cholesterol.
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Herbal teas are not true teas (we aren’t being mean, they simply do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant). Instead, these teas are infusions and are a blend of various leaves, fruits, bark, roots, or flowers belonging to almost any edible, non-tea plant. As they can be created from almost any combination of natural ingredients, the variety of flavours and health benefits within herbal teas are almost endless.
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