Refresh yourself on the basics of traditional teas.
Tea comes in all kinds of varieties. Black, green, yellow, and white teas are all made from the same variety of tea plant, called Camellia sinesis. After the leaves are harvested, they are withered and processed. CTC (cut, tear, curl) and Orthodox are the two types of processing.
The Orthodox processing method rolls out the leaves mechanically or by hand. The rolled out leaves are then sorted, oxidized, and dried. The broken leaves and smaller particles can then pass onto the CTC method. CTC is more commonly used for tea bags, as it minces the leaves into very fine pieces. This method is useful in improving medium and lower quality tea leaves.
One thing to note: the distinguishing factor between black, green, and white teas is the amount of oxidation. Oxidation refers to the amount of oxygen the leaves are exposed to during the processing stage. The more oxidation occurs, the darker the tea leaves get, and the higher caffeine content they possess. Black tea is the most oxidized, oolong is partially oxidized, green and white are unoxidized.
After each method of processing, the leaves are then sorted into grades (or ‘pekoe’) according to sizes, which range from whole leaves to dust. Finally, the graded product is packaged and prepared to sell.
In this article, we’ll be looking at each variety of tea, and the more popular traditional teas within each category. Follow along to learn more!
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”– Henry James
Black tea is the most oxidized tea, which is reflected in it’s dark color. This category of tea also contains the highest caffeine content.
- Lapsang souchong is a black tea originating in China. The process of producing this tea involves drying the leaves over burning pine, thus producing a rich smoky flavor. This is one of the highest grade black teas in mainland China, and remains a popular choice.
- Assam is a black tea from India. It is characterised by its full body and strong flavor. Naturally higher in caffeine content, this tea makes a great early-morning beverage. It also is rich in antioxidants!
- Darjeeling black tea from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India, is known for its fruity and floral flavor. This tea is thin-bodied and and often processed as a mix of all different types of teas. The smooth flavor makes it easy to drink without any cream, sugar, or sweeteners.
- Ceylon black tea originates from Sri Lanka. Grown at a high altitude, it has a bold flavor with notes of citrus, chocolate, and spice.
- Traditional black tea blends include:
- Earl Grey: black tea leaves blended with bergmont oil
- English Breakfast: a blend of black teas from Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya
- Masala Chai: a blend of black tea and south Indian spices
Some black tea blends, like English Breakfast, are designed to be brewed strong and diluted with cream. A typical English tea time consists of tea with cream and sugar, with a pastry or small snack. Yum!
Check out our store to shop our custom Traditional Black tea. Delicious hot or iced!
Green tea is made from the unoxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Hugely popular in China since the Song Dynasty, this tea boasts several health benefits such as antioxidants and improved brain function.
- Chun mee is a green tea that originates in China and is known for it’s plum-like flavor. Made of very small and curved leaves, it’s name translates from Chinese to “precious eyebrows”.
- Gunpowder green tea resembles gunpowder after the leaves are tumble-dried and rolled into tiny pellets. The purpose of rolling the leaves is to maintain freshness for a longer period of time, and protect the leaf from damage. Higher grades of this tea are individually rolled by hand!
- Genmaicha is a traditional Japanese tea, made by combining sencha with toasted rice. The lightly toasted flavor comes through in this savory tea.
- Matcha is a ceremonial Japanese tea, made of the powder of ground tea leaves. The delicate state of this tea means it perishes quickly, which is why it is typically sold and used in small quantities. In the ceremony, it is made by whisking the tea with hot water in a bowl, until the surface is frothy.
- Sencha, another tea from Japan, is produced throughout the season and consumed at all hours of the day. It represents 80% of Japan’s tea production, and has since become popular with mainstream health and fitness gurus for its health benefits. It can have an earthy, grassy, or seaweed-like flavor depending on the grade and origin.
For those of you wanting to cut out on caffeine in the new year, green tea is a great option! It’s naturally lower in caffeine than both coffee and black tea, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on your morning ritual!
Check out our store to shop our traditional Sencha Green Tea.
White tea is very minimally processed, unlike Green or Black. For this reason, it tends to be categorized differently depending on a variety of other factors, such as the age of the buds when harvested, and additional steps that may be added to the processing stage.
Significantly less oxidation occurs during the processing of the tea leaves, and the oxidation that does occur is minimal and only due to the natural drying process. Generally speaking, white tea is neither rolled nor oxidized.
Because this is the least processed of the teas, the result is a lighter flavor than both Green and Black tea. Brewed white tea has no bitterness, and can be describes ad “sweet” or “mild”. High-grade white tea can only be made from the youngest tea leaves.
White tea is fluffy, which means we have a hard time fitting it into the same bags as green and black teas. If you order one bag and it arrives in two separate bags, rest assured that it weighs the correct amount.
Check out our store to shop on of our top-selling white teas.
Meaning “dark dragon” in Chinese, oolong is a semi-oxidized tea. This type of tea varies in profile depending on the differences in horticulture and production.
Some oolong tea is sweet, some smoky, and some earthy. The appearance varies as well, from leaves curled into small beads to long and curly leaves. Caffeine content varies from one type to the next based on environmental factors. Think of it like wine from France!
Oolong is allegedly Ric Brecheisen’s favorite type of tea!
Check out our store to shop our Formosa Oolong!
All our custom black, green, and white tea blends are made using traditional tea leaves as a base.
We hope this article was helpful in your learning (or re-learning!) about teas! Browse our website or stop by the store to check out our wide variety of blends and traditional tea options.
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