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Tea has been around for centuries, dating all the way back to 59 BC. It’s one of the most popular drinks in the world, and tea farmers have long mastered the art of tea growing and fermentation. Today we have thousands of types of teas that people enjoy sipping on each day.
THE 6 BASIC TYPES OF TEAS
All teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant and contain caffeine. The teas listed below have different fermentation processes, and therefore offer different amounts of caffeine, steeping temperature, color and taste. Fermentation (aka oxidation) is the process in which a tea absorbs oxygen.
Black tea is one of the most popular teas in the world. This rich, flavorful tea undergoes the most oxidation, which causes higher caffeine and makes the leaves appear darker. Due to its high caffeine content, it makes for a great morning drink. Black teas are typically produced in China and India. Common examples of black teas include Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon. It’s also used to create popular tea blends like Earl Grey, English breakfast and Masala chai.
Green tea originated in China and later spread to Japan and Europe. Today it’s tremendously popular in the United States. To create green tea, Camellia Sinensis undergoes light oxidation. That is why the dry leaves maintain their green color. Green tea contains a large amount of catechins, which are antioxidants that help fight free radicals from damaging cells. Sometimes green tea is infused and mixed with other plants, seeds and flowers to create specific blends. For example, our Jasmine Gold Dragon tea is created by adding jasmine flowers, which creates a wonderful floral aroma. In Japan sencha green tea is mixed with popped rice to create the savory Genmaicha tea.
Oolong tea is closer to green tea in color, taste and caffeine. During the oxidation process, it’s fermented longer than green tea, but not as long as black tea. Oolong tea is famous for its floral and fruity aroma. The largest producers of oolong are Taiwan and China. Sometimes the tea is aged just like Pu-erh teas to create deeper and more interesting notes.
White tea is very gentle and light in color compared to other teas. It’s also the least processed tea. When steeping, it’s important to use a lower temperature (175-185 F or 80-85C). If it’s too hot, the flavor will be lost and the tea will become bitter and unpleasant. Great examples of white teas include Silver Needle tea and Pai Mu Tan tea produced in the Fujian Province of China.
Yellow tea is not very common and is hard to find. The oxidation process is similar to green tea however, tea leaves are allowed to sit and yellow, creating a pale yellow brew when the tea is steeped.
Fermented Pu-erh comes in bricks, cakes or loose leaves. High quality Pu-erh is very rare and can be very expensive. To create Pu-erh the tea is aged for months or years, which makes for unique earthy notes and an unusual dark color. The taste of Pu-erh is achieved by allowing bacteria and fungus to influence it. Some people describe the flavor as very earthy. Pu-erh tea can also be used in the making of kombucha.
HOW ABOUT HERBAL TEA?
We call all teas tea. However, herbal teas (aka tisanes) are created by blending and infusing different plants, dried fruits, berries or twigs. Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine. The most popular examples of herbal teas are chamomile tea, peppermint tea, elderberry tea, rooibos tea, and lavender tea.
There are so many great teas found across the globe and from different plants. No matter which tea you choose, you’ll get to enjoy the health benefits all teas have to offer.
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