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All tea comes from the plant – Camellia Senensis There are many types of teas but they all originate from this same plant. What makes a tea a black tea, a green tea or a white tea (and so on) depends on how the tealeaves had been processed.
Here are the different types of teas:
Black, Oolong, Green, Pu-Erh & White
As an analogy, if we think of an apple, how when you cut a slice off it, the flesh becomes yellow and brown – discoloring with time. This is called ‘oxidation.’ This occurs with the tealeaves – the more it is handled and processed, the darker it gets and becomes a type of tea. Black tea has been processed a lot, it has been either or all been roasted, fried, rolled, twisted, dried, smoked… it contains the most caffeine too because of the oxidation process.
Green tea is unoxidised leaves – as soon as it’s picked, it goes through a heating process to prevent the leaves from oxidation then it is rolled to release its fantastic flavour. There are many green teas out there, each farm, region and country producing a variation: Sencha, Bancha, Gunpowder, Genmaicha, Dragonwell, Mao Jian to name but a few.
Centuries ago, the farmer who was farming green teas got some servants to guard his harvest over night whilst the leaves lay to dry. But due to some bad weather that evening, the guards took shelter and lay asleep on the tea leaves. They didn’t think anything of it.
They must have had a good night’s rest, rolling around on the farmer’s stock because the next day, the farmer discovered that all his stock had turned another colour. In horror, he took it to be roasted anyway hoping for the best because that was all the stock he had – he had no choice even though all the tea leaves dark brown. Ruined, basically!
The farmer persisted, trying to sell it as his own “unique” variation to at least make back his cost. And this is how I believe Black tea was invented. The farmer made a killing with this new variety of tea that no one else had had before.
Green tea and Oolong tea is mostly drank in the Far East. (Oolong tea is like a rosé – it’s in between green and black tea mainly known for aiding digestion). As a child, my mother always served Green/ Oolong teas, especially with fatty fried food – it breaks down fats, dissolves it – she says – so you can burp! (Burping is a Vietnamese sign of gratitude and enjoyment of a meal) And not feel heavy or weighed down. She is always right.
Scientists have now proven that Green teas help quicken your metabolism so that your body can digest your food quicker before it turns your belly into Buddha’s. They have also found that it has a lot of Vitamin C and antioxidants to strengthen your immune system and lower cholesterol. There are so many health benefits with Green teas from preventing bad breath to certain fatal illnesses. Some of the oldest people in the world swear longevity by Green tea.
Fad diets and magazines have been running on a band wagon about how you can loose weight with Green teas (and Pu-Erh)– making us all run to the supermarket to buy crap versions of it.
Any good sensible person will tell you that just drinking green tea does not make you loose weight – especially if your diet is of fast and convenience foods- of course, its all about your diet and your lifestyle – including green tea in your life however, aids your wellbeing by making you feel healthy and nourished because of its health benefits.
Jasmine Scented Silver Needle
White teas are the purest and rarest form of tea. Real white tea is from the Fujian region in China. The first leaves has only been picked and dried. It contains the highest level of antioxidants found in any tea, and is known to be really good for your skin, your health – inside and out.
The White tea ‘Silver Needle’ leaves still has its layer of fur, some of it is scented with beautiful jasmine – a layer of flowers in blossom is laid above the tea overnight when its most potent, the fragrance falling onto the tea. One of my most favourite teas – I can only drink it in celebration, for wellbeing – like a fine champagne.
If you are into your teas, Pu-Erh tea is one of the most expensive teas, it has been fermented and is known as a vintage tea – batches are sold by year dates.
More centuries ago, servants were to deliver to the King or Queen of some dynasty in a far away land some precious green tea but again, bad weather caught them out, the tea sat inside a saddle of a horse rotting away. It took them ages to get to this far away dynasty – by the time they had gotten there – the tea was ruined. Pressed down by all the weight of cargo and fermented. It had all stuck together like a cake.
In fear of getting beheaded or such, they served the tea to royalty who happened to have loved the earthy, woody and slightly metallic taste of this tea.
Pu-Erh tea is like a fine vintage wine and for some the taste has to be acquired. It is a beautiful tea, also full of antioxidants and known for its digestion aiding qualities – breaking down fats.
Different types of teas are consumed in different ways. Be careful not to scorch the green and white teas with boiling water.
Blackcurrant & Hibiscus
Infusing loose tea takes longer than infusing tea dust in a bag, read instructions of how to infuse. Take tea leaves out of the water/ teapot once the tea is brewed to your liking. You can then re-infuse the leaves. If you leave it in too long, and add water to it, you are just thinning it out.
Chamomile tea, fruit teas etc are ‘infusions’ – they are not tea because they didn’t come from the plant camellia senensis. Enjoying tea has become a passion. I love tea – I love how from one plant – each tea tastes so different and wonderful. Its similar to loving wine – except its better for you – and I love pairing it with food too.