Types Of Tea
Most people think of tea as being an infusion of any plant. There are many common ones like chamomile tea, hibiscus tea, lemon grass tea, and the list goes on. These infusions of plant material are made in much the same way (called tisanes), however the true "tea" plant is actually just one plant, Camelia sinensis. the actual "tea" plant is the Camelia sinensis plant in various forms. Commonly grown in China, Japan, India and South Korea. This plant has many varieties, and there are countless cultivation, and processing techniques which allow for a huge variety of different flavours, and medicinal qualities. Depending on how it is processed will determine what type of tea will be produced. The rawest form becomes white tea, the second green and yellow, then as it goes through more processing and oxidization it becomes oolong, black, and puerh.
Tea has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, likely starting in China. As the years went on, and people started to move around, companies like the East India trading company, and the Dutch trading company began to ship tea all over the world until present day where it is one of the most widly consumed beverages in the world. In th UK for example, it is estimated that 84% of the population drink tea on a daily basis.
There are so many variables when it comes to tea, such as variety (sinensis, cambodiensis, assamica), level of processing (green, black, oolong, etc), how it is processed (steamed, pan fried, etc), and what it is mixed with (other herbs and spices), that there are virtually an unlimited number of teas available. This is what makes tea so great and why such a large amount of people are able to find their flavour.
The benefits of tea includes its use as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antitumor agent, as well as for reducing your chances of cardiovascular disease, and increasing longevity. The list goes on and on and tea is considered one of the best tonics in the world. For a much more detailed study of the benefits of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) check this out or click the button on the right.
How to Prepare Tea
Each type of tea requires slightly different brewing techniques in order to maintain the best flavor. The simplest way is to simply add a small amount of tea to a teapot, infuser, or in a tea bag, and pour hot water over them. Allow the tea to infuse for 2-5 minutes and then remove the tea and enjoy. In each section we will discuss the various different tweaks you can make to each kind of tea in order to achieve the best flavor of each.
For example green teas are much more delicate than black, and if brewed too hot or for too long, the bitter components will leach out into the tea, causing it to have an unfavorable bitter flavor, but if you keep the water temperature around 60-80 degrees celsius and only let it steep for 1-2 minutes, you will get a sweet, grassy, and delicious flavour out of your tea. Black teas and oolongs are much stronger and can be brewed for a longer period of time and maintain its characteristic flavor. Then their are teas like puerh where they can be brewed anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes and still have great taste and flavor.
Herbal teas and tisanes will also be discussed, and these teas need to be steeped for long peroids of time, especially if you wish to use them for their medicinal actions.
Camellia sinensis comes in a few different varieties, each with their own characteristic look and flavor.
Camellia sinensis var. sinensis
This species is most common In China. This variety has smaller leaves, can live for hundreds or thousands of years, and produces a very delicate tea.
Camellia sinensis var. assamica
Most common in India and Sri Lanka. The assam variety produces a stronger flavor, more earthy tones, and has larger leaves. Its lifespan is around 4 decades or so. Assam is commonly seen in black teas, but can also be found in greens, oolongs, and white.
Camellia sinensis var. cambodiensis
Most common in Cambodia. It is basically a hybrid of China and Assam varieties, and delivers qualities from both.
Camellia sinensis va Pubilimba/dehungensis
These varieties are found mainly in China. They are not very common, and are usually used to make high quality puerh.