- Tea Basics
Not many know that tea is the second most popular drink after water. That's right. Also, for many nations it is not just a drink but a complex part of the culture and traditons.
WHERE DOES TEA COME FROM
Although, known in different forms, shades, flavours, tea is a very simple evergreen plant. Also known as Camelia Sinensis, tea grows two leaves and a bud that gardeners pluck to produce many teas, among which the most common are white, green, oolong and black.
Nowadays, you may find tea sourced from different regions, but its native land is Eastern and Southern Asia, primarily China, Japan and Sri Lanka.
If you wonder how is it possible for this simple plant to produce such wide variety of flavours, colour and even look of the leaves, here is the answer.
A main process that tea leaves need to undergo is called oxidation. This is the time when leaves are left in a room that has controlled climate to oxidize and turn darker. This is also the moment, when tea producers make decisions on the darkness of the leaves, the tea liquor and even the strength and nuances of the taste of the drink when it is steeped. A good rule of thumb is that the more the leaves are processed, the stronger the flavour is.
Then, the oxidation process is being stopped by steaming and drying and tea leaves are being shaped following different methods to form a variety of looks and allowing some of the essential oils to come through and enhance the flavours.
TYPES OF TEA
The level of oxidation or exposure to the elements, is what determines whether a tea is white, green, oolong or black.
As it already probably makes sense to you, white teas are the least processed teas. Harney & Sons white tea is hand plucked, unopened silver or white buds that are air-dried and often loaded with downy hairs. White teas brew a subtle blend of sweetnes and vegetal flowers and have the least caffeine.
Green tea production methods vary but include oxidation and drying time with a focus to preserve the vivid green colour. Green teas normally have low caffeine content but a bit higher than in white teas.
Oolong tea was developed later than green and black teas. A repeated rolling process brings the tea leaves to the desired level of oxidation allowing darker colour and fuller but still light body. This tea is very fragrant and it has more caffeine than in green tea.
Black teas range from mellow Chinese tea to full bodied Assams from India. Often they are served with milk and sugar. Black teas are withered, rolled, fully ozidized and fired in an oven. The process created the characteristic warm, toasty flavour. In the finest black teas, complex flavours similar to honey malt and cocoa develop.
FUN FACT about HEBAL TEAS - Herbal Teas are not actual teas although we call them this way. The proper term for them is tisanes.
HOW TO BREW THE PERFECT CUPPA
Before you brew, always preheat your teapot by filling it with boiling water to raise the temperature of the pot. Discard that water. For a teapot up to 6-cup capacity (1.5 liters), add 1 teaspoon (5g) of loose tea for every 8 oz cup of tea you're brewing. Heat the water to the correct temperature for the particular tea and fill the teapot by pouring it over tea and steep for the recommended time.
TEMPERATURE AND STEEPING TIME
Following the brewing timeline and water temperature, you will be able to bring out the best flavours of the tea. Always insure that you remove the tea after the steeping time has ended to prevent from becoming too strong. Happy steeping!