The fantastic thing about tea is its nuance and contradictions. Tea is difficult, its secrets and techniques usually are not instantly revealing, and there are only a few direct or easy solutions. The data under is meant for schooling moderately than persuasion, so we apologize if it will get a bit geeky. We hope this brings some readability to know and additional benefit from the various kinds of tea you might encounter.
What is tea?
All sorts of tea are comprised of the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. This contains black tea, Green tea, wulong (oolong) tea, white tea, puer (pu-erh) tea, and darkish tea. The Camellia sinensis plant is native to Southeast Asia, however it’s now being cultivated in tea-friendly climates world-wide. Drinks we name “natural tea” – peppermint, rooibos, chamomile, and so forth. – usually are not from the Camellia sinensis plant. Subsequently, they don’t seem to be tea within the technical sense (although we settle for the phrase and don’t right individuals for utilizing it).
Why are there so many different kinds of tea?
Since all tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, the variations between the sorts of tea are primarily on account of how they’re processed after the leaves are picked. In principle, any tea plant rising wherever can have its leaves made into any form of tea, however this isn’t carried out in follow as a result of geography and rising circumstances are crucial elements to the end result together with native experience.
Does tea contain caffeine?
Sure, as a result of all tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, all of it incorporates (roughly) the identical quantity of caffeine. The most important figuring out elements of how a lot caffeine can be in your cup is how a lot leaf you utilize, how sizzling you steep it, and the way lengthy you steep it.
What is green tea?
Merely put, tea leaves have a green look. To maintain that green look, the leaves for green tea are “fired” as step one after they’re picked off the plant. “Firing” will stop oxidation from taking place. Oxidation is a pure chemical course of that turns contemporary tea leaves into black tea (the identical course of that causes an apple to show brown after reducing it open). A tea is “fired” by subjecting the tea leaves to a short interval of excessive warmth to neutralize the enzymes that allow oxidation. Different sorts of teas undergo the firing course of, however White tea is the one one which goes via it as step one.
Green tea is primarily a product of China and Japan. Chinese language white teas are “pan-fired” (that means dry warmth) to forestall oxidation whereas Japanese green teas are “steam-fired.” These two methods produce wildly completely different outcomes and are central to every nation’s signature kinds. Different international locations produce white teas (not all of that are dangerous), however they often lack the abilities that include China and Japan’s lengthy traditions of white tea manufacturing.
The frequent cup traits of green tea are usually a lightweight physique with gentle astringency and a vegetal/grassy taste, however these will range with every explicit fashion. Green tea is commonly famous as having much less caffeine than black tea, however this isn’t precisely correct. Green tea tends to develop into bitter and astringent, so it’s often advised to be steeped for shorter instances and at decrease temperatures than black tea (which isn’t dangerous recommendation). This lighter steeping methodology will produce much less caffeine in your cup. If green tea is steeped the identical manner as black tea, you’ll get as a lot (or extra) caffeine in your cup.
What is matcha tea?
Matcha teas are a definite fashion of Japanese green tea that’s completely different in each side to all different teas. Matcha tea is shade grown tea (e.g., Gyokuro, Kabusecha), with the leaf matter faraway from the fibrous veins and stems. This leaf materials (known as Tencha) is then milled between two stones till it’s a advantageous powder known as Matcha. The Matcha is then whisked into sizzling water the place the liquor and leaf are each consumed. It’s not steeped and faraway from the water like conventional teas. Matcha is the tea served in the course of the well-known Japanese tea ceremony, however culinary grades at the moment are used for every kind of extra informal functions reminiscent of smoothies or baking.
What is black tea?
Black tea is tea leaves which have been shortly and closely oxidized. This offers the leaf a darkish look and considerably modifications the aroma and taste. Oxidation is the pure chemical response carried out by enzymes throughout the leaf that start as soon as they’re uncovered to air (like an apple does after being reduce open). Although all teas (aside from green tea) undergo some extent of oxidation, black tea is the one one that’s outlined by its excessive degree of oxidation.
Black tea originated in China, however its reputation within the west has made most of it destined for export. Nations that have been as soon as British colonies – primarily India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya – make nearly completely black tea and in a mode geared in the direction of western tastes and functions. Due to this the flavour profile tends to emphasise a powerful, brisk, full-bodied cup (usually with milk and sugar in thoughts) with various levels of fruitiness or maltiness. Nevertheless, regional kinds create such massive distinctions that there is no such thing as a common black tea taste. It’s additionally probably the most generally used tea for mixing with different elements into basic kinds reminiscent of earl gray or masala chai.
Black teas are steadily talked about as having probably the most caffeine, however that’s due to the frequent instruction to steep with water dropped at a full boil and for an prolonged time of as much as 5 or 6 minutes. Any tea made like it will ship a variety of caffeine within the cup.
What is chai tea?
Masala chai (or extra casually shortened to “chai” in America) is the normal drink of India and outlined as a mix of black tea, milk, sugar, and spices. There isn’t a actual recipe for the right way to make this, however all embody these 4 elements. The phrase “Masala” means “mix of spices” and those mostly used are ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove (although there are lots of others that is likely to be included). In its most conventional kind, the black tea, sugar, and spices are boiled in water. Then milk is added, boiled once more, strained and served.
What is wulong (oolong) tea?
Wulong (oolong) tea defies a hard and fast definition. It’s sometimes described as “partially oxidized tea”, which isn’t improper, however it’s not a whole image. The oxidation degree doesn’t distinguish it as “wulong” tea. It’s their equally shared technique of elaborate transformation (withering, shaking, pan-firing, rolling, drying, baking) that put these in any other case disparate group of teas underneath the identical title.
There are 4 separate areas that produce generally acknowledged wulong tea. Every has its personal distinct fashion that it owes principally to native methods and traditions. The 4 areas (and their hottest kinds) are Wuyi Rock Tea, Anxi Tieguanyin, Guangdong Dan Cong, and Taiwan (numerous kinds). This isn’t a whole record. There are lots of extra lesser-known kinds not listed right here. These teas bear little or no resemblance to one another, as a result of every area will emphasize completely different elements of the method. Many teas labeled “oolong tea” from outdoors these areas often confer with partially-oxidized tea and don’t share different elements of the wulong course of. These teas needs to be judged on their very own particular person deserves. The correct pinyin spelling is “wulong” tea, however it’s extra frequent in English to see it spelled “oolong tea” they usually imply the identical factor.
All Chinese language and Taiwan wulong tea varieties are historically made utilizing the gongfu fashion – massive quantities of leaf in smaller steeping vessels (often a gaiwan) for a lot of quick steeps. Although gongfu is basically unfamiliar within the west, we extremely suggest it for wulong teas (and different Chinese language tea sorts). It’s to not be taken too severe or ceremonial. It’s a variety of enjoyable and anybody can do it.
What is white tea?
White tea is minimally processed, so it’s higher outlined by what it’s not. It’s not “fired” like White tea, however it’s not deliberately oxidized like black tea. There isn’t a rolling or shaping of the leaf, so the completed product can be massive, cumbersome, dried leaves. The one deliberate motion taken upon the tea leaves is a gradual and methodical drying to cut back moisture and obtain a desired aroma and taste. This simplicity limits it to solely three completely different kinds: Bai Hao Yin Zhen (“Silver Needles”), Bai Mu Dan (“White Peony”), and Shou Mei.
White tea usually is described as “delicate”, however our expertise doesn’t bear this out. White tea is definitely fairly forgiving and may be steeped in nearly any method you see match. It doesn’t simply develop into bitter or astringent so there’s no should be overly light. The flavors are inclined to vary from shiny/fruity/herbaceous for the much less oxidized variations to spicy/nutty/woodsy for one thing extra oxidized.
White tea (like Green tea) can be generally marketed as having much less caffeine than different sorts of tea. This isn’t correct. Like every other tea, the quantity of caffeine in your cup is primarily depending on how sizzling you steep it and the way lengthy you steep it. Many tea sellers counsel very low temperatures and quick steeping instances for white tea, which might tremendously cut back the caffeine in your cup.