Tea is one of the most common beverages around the world. Throughout centuries the drink has been used for medicinal purposes for its healing properties. I just love tea! For me, my day starts with a cup of my favourite tea and even ends to with a cup of hot tea. Being a true lover of tea too, I had very little knowledge about the various types of tea. However, my recent exploration has told me a lot of stories about tea. If you are new to tea, then there might be chances for you to get confused with the various styles, names and grades of tea. Therefore, to simplify things, I have got something good to share.
Earlier I thought that each type of tea- black, green, white, yellow and the pu-erh teas had originated from an individual’s name or from a plant. However, my exploration made me realize that there are a lot more things to know about tea. The different types of tea are actually determined by the steps they are put for processing. All types of tea need to undergo the 8 steps in the process of tea making and they are: plucking, sorting, cleaning, drying, sorting, processing and finally its packaging. It is the processing feature that determines the type of tea is to be prepared.
There are other elements too like leaf size, climate, elevation its being grown at, type of soil, amount of moisture, time of harvesting that are important in determining the type of tea being processed. However, the two major factors contributing to the type of tea is the type of manufacturer and for the time period the leaf is being dried or oxidized. The level of oxidation is important in determining the type of tea.
A quick look at the six different types of tea:
Green Tea: This is one of the most common types of tea and consumed by a large number of people. The tea is well known for its medicinal effects it provides. Instead of a grading system, green yeas use name designations. It is said that more than 3,000 different types of green tea is just in China and it is not easy to keep a track of all. Japan is also known for producing green tea. And, as it’s grown there in fewer styles, therefore it is easy to identify the different styles of green tea.
White Tea: Previously, only China was one of the few countries producing white tea with their Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) and Bai Mei (White Eyebrow). However, even Sri Lanka has joined the competition with its Ceylon Silver Tips and Bai Mu Dan (White Peony). And, both of these are equally rejuvenating as China’s white tea. There are other countries too in the list of production of white tea, but none have reached the level as that of these two countries.
Black Tea: Black Tea is absolutely oxidized and is broken into two categories. One is whole leaf tea and the other is broken leaf. The broken leaf tea is graded with the help of a wire mesh screen with graduated sizes that goes from the largest and thickest leaf to the smallest particles called dust. Broken leaf teas are mostly found in tea bags.
Oolong Tea: Oolong Tea is produced by China and Japan. Both these places are bestowed by nature with areas that help in the growing conditions of Oolong tea. The careful manufacturing process provides the tea with various styles and flavours ranging from sweet to hearty and robust.
Yellow Tea: This tea most of you will not know, as it is made only in China and that too in small quantities. At times, unintentionally it is even marketed and sold as green yea.
Pu-erh tea: There are two styles of this tea. One is shou pu-erh that undergoes a small aging process and is available loose and compressed into cakes called cha. Another one is Sheng pu-erh that is a longer aging style, compressed into other shapes and stored in temperature controlled rooms to age that could range something from ten to fifty years.
It sounds so incredible, that all these six types of tea start up from the same procedure like the leaf plucked from plant, but with the help of nature and the tea maker, the product ends up being entirely unique.
By Angelica Campbell