Let’s dive into the wonderful world of tea! We know that tea has wonderful benefits such as weight management, heart health, insulin improvement, and more. What about the production and the different varieties of teas? Each type of tea contains its own derivatives and health benefits.
With there being so many different types of teas, how would you differentiate between black tea and green tea? What ingredients are in herbal tea? All tea originates from the same plant, camellia Sinensis, which comes from China. Each type of tea develops its own characteristic traits through separate harvesting methods.
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Some teas are pan-fired, some are steamed. Some teas are air-dried, while other teas are chopped. Moreover, some teas are harvested in the summer and fall, others in the spring. There are six main categories of tea.
1. Black Tea
Black tea is the more common type of tea. Most people are familiar with black tea. A common black tea brand is Lipton, and popular blends include Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast. Black tea contains high amounts of caffeine, comparable to half a cup of coffee—a very robust flavor in comparison to other tea types.
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Harvested, wilted, and lightly crushed tea leaves produce black tea. Some black tea is reduced to smaller pieces using the crush-tear-curl method. Tea leaves are then oxidized, thus the brown-black color. Black tea is primarily produced in China but also in India, with exports from Kenya, Vietnam, and Nepal, to name a few. Indian black tea is strong and full-bodied, while Chinese black tea is light and full-flavored with less caffeine.
2. White Tea
One of the more sought-after delicate teas is white tea. White tea is pursued by experts, connoisseurs, and novices. The taste of white tea is clean, crisp, and mild in flavor. With very little caffeine, popular white teas include White Peony and Bashan Silver Tip.
White tea requires the slightest processing before being dehydrated and packaged. Silvertip and silver needle white teas are harvested from the first tips and buds of the plant before blossoming into full leaves. White tea requires less oxidation than black tea. Like black tea, white tea originates from China, with specialty white teas manufactured in Taiwan and Sri Lanka.
3. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is a tea that is not actually a tea. These teas are made up of an assortment of different spices and herbs. There is no caffeine included in herbal teas. Varieties of herbal teas include single-ingredient teas and artistic blends. Chamomile and Peppermint are single-ingredient teas. Atomic Gold and Lavender Lullaby are artistic blends.
Herbal tea serves medicinal purposes and can be used to treat common illnesses from sore throats to upset stomachs. Popular herbal tea ingredients include Peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus, ginger, and lavender.
4. Purple Tea
A newer tea type is purple tea. Purple tea comes from an uncommon purple-colored leaf tea plant that grows in India. In the present day, purple tea is primarily grown in Africa. Kenya is the leading producer of purple tea. Like white tea, purple tea is low in caffeine with light and mature taste. High in antioxidants, purple teas are made by harvesting, wilting, and incomplete oxidation. Then, purple teas are dried and shaped. Purple tea yields a reddish-purple color when brewed.
Matcha comes from the green tea family. It is popular in Japan with a rich history and cultural importance. Matcha is devoured when whisked together with water; also, it is commonly added to baked goods, smoothies, and lattes. Matcha has a rich and smooth taste with a hint of bitterness.
Matcha is made from a tea plant that has to be shaded for weeks before harvest. The shading increases the chlorophyll in plants, which contributes to the emerald green color of the tea. The tea plant leaves are dried and grounded into a fine powder.
6. Green Tea
Green tea originated in China and Japan. Green tea, when brewed, produces a yellow or light green color with a mild and light taste. Green tea has half as much caffeine as black tea. Popular green teas include Jasmine Yin Cloud and Gunpowder.
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Green tea is harvested, steamed, and oxidation is ceased. Halting the oxidation process gives green tea leaves its bright green color with a light taste. Last, tea leaves are pressed into their final shape and dehydrated. This is the method to make green tea for the Chinese. In Japan, like matcha tea, green tea is shaded for a longer period of time prior to harvest. Chinese green tea is milder in taste in comparison to Japanese green tea.
Know Your Teas
Different teas are broken into groups based on how each tea is processed and the taste that comes from brewing. Teas grown in different locations will develop dissimilar characteristics based on a unique environment. Whether you are new to the world of tea or an avid tea drinker, there are interesting single-origin teas and tea blends to choose from!