All tea comes from the tea plant called Camellia Sinensis.
There are six types of tea, and like fine wine, each tea carries its own distinctive flavours and aromas:
1. White tea is the least processed of all teas. It ranks among the rarest and most exotic teas in the world.
The finest, youngest shoots are hand-picked at the beginning of the season with the fine silvery hairy down still attached to the leaves. The leaves are then either sun-dried, gently steamed or oven-dried at low temperatures (40 C) in order to remove the water content.
White tea is smooth, complex and extremely light in flavour with subtle peachy notes, very good for meditative purposes. It is primarily grown in Fujian province in China, but some delightful white teas are also grown in Sri Lanka, Kenya, as well as the prized Darjeeling region of India.
It is perfect for drinking in the morning or during quiet times, when you can really focus on the cup. We highly recommend, if you haven't tried it before, to get a high quality white tea, sit back and enjoy its light and meditative brew.
2. Green tea is slightly more processed than white tea, but have not undergone an oxidation process. Young buds and leaves are plucked and allowed to wither for a few hours. Steaming or pan firing the leaves then removes the moisture. Without the moisture no oxidation can take place and the basic production is concluded.
In general, green teas are fresh and slightly grassy in flavour, but it can vary tremendously from the vegetative grassy flavours of some of Japan’s teas – who use the steaming process, over subtle nuances of peach and chocolate in some China greens, and thick and smoky Gunpowders of Taiwan – who pan-fire the leaves.
It is recommended for drinking in the morning. Green tea has the highest level of caffeine, but in combination with high level of theanine, it gives you lovely sensation of being alert and relaxed at the same time. Your mind is stimulated, not your circulation. Next time when you need a "pick-me-up", green tea should be your first choice.
Green tea is also known for its antioxidant effect, which has a positive influence on cell ageing and thus creates a healthy skin appearance. Traditional Far Eastern medicine considers green tea to be a cure for many physical and psychological ailments.
3. Yellow tea is probably the most rare of teas. It is produced in very small quantities, primarily in Anhui and Hunan provinces in China. The process is similar to that of green tea, except that the leaves are allowed a longer drying process. As the moist leaves are let to dry, they become yellow in colour and lose some of the grassy vegetative flavours distinct to green teas.
In terms of a flavour profile, yellow tea is very pure. It has a beautiful lingering sweetness, some of the freshness of green tea, but the softness and elegance of white tea.
It is a gift tea, because of it being very rare, given to VIP's and people of importance. It is recommended for drinking all day long, but not with food because is very light. It is very calming and relaxing.
4. Oolong tea is semi-oxidized tea. The production of Oolong tea requires time-honoured tradition and craftsmanship. The leaves are picked in units consisting of one bud and three leaves and exposed to the sun. The second stage is to dry them indoors to promote oxidation. The most crucial part in the production of Oolong tea is when to stop the oxidation.
Experience is required to identify the best time to stop the oxidation – which can be anywhere between 20% and 80%. The leaves are then rubbed repeatedly to generate good flavour, aroma, and texture. Then they are dried.
The flavours of Oolong can vary tremendously depending on the length of oxidation – from soft floral and peach notes to fuller toasty nutty flavours. Next time when you are looking to excite your taste buds, oolong tea is the way to go.
5. Black tea represents the majority of the tea consumed in the Western world. In production, the leaves are first exposed to hot air for several hours in order to reduce their water content by 50% to 60%. This step starts to free up the enzyme responsible for oxidizing the leaf. It also softens the leaves, preparing them to undergo subsequent operations without breaking.
Next, the leaves are rolled (by hand or machine), allowing the essential oils to spread and to permeate the buds. The aroma of the tea depends on these essential oils. A screen is used to sort the tea. The smallest leaves go directly to the next stage, while the larger, tougher ones undergo a second rolling. Oxidation involves the chemical reaction of the leaves and their components (polyphenols) with air, humidity, and heat. Finally, comes firing. Drying the leaves in the oven stops the oxidation process.
In flavour, black tea is richer, stronger and more robust. It is suitable to combine it with milk, but when you get high quality whole leaf black tea we would strongly advise you to drink it without milk, because you're going to pick up all the subtleties of black tea.
Shortly brewed black tea is stimulating because of the contained caffeine. After a longer infusion time, the caffeine is more and more tied by the tannines and therefore less and less stimulating.
6. Pu-Erh is post-fermented tea. It is a large leaf tea variety, and is grown and picked throughout the year, unlike other teas that require a dormant season.
Raw pu-erh (Sheng) is much milder tasting pu-erh, it is more green in character, colour and flavour. The leaves are picked, sundried and compressed allowing a natural aging process.
Cooked pu-erh (Shu) – The tea is picked, processed and partially fired allowing the leaves to retain moisture. The slightly moist tea is then piled. The natural bacterium on the leaves creates a reaction similar to that of a compost pile. The tea is then aged, in special underground rooms or caves, adding to its unique character.
Raw pu-erh has a lighter grassy flavour, whereas cooked pu-erh is more full bodied and earthy.
It is extremely healthy. The fermentation process makes natural statins, which help to lower your cholesterol. It is recommended for drinking after a rich heavy meal, as a digestive.
We should also mention Matcha tea, specially grown and processed green tea in Japan. It is considered to be the best, healthiest tea and superfood par excellence. With its extremely high concentration of valuable vitamins, caffeine, amino acids and cell-protecting antioxidants, Matcha is unique.
It is no ordinary green tea powder. For four weeks before being harvested the tea plants are shaded, to have the leaves grow more slowly.
Matcha is ground in stone or granite mills as slowly and carefully as possible. Each production step is carried out with the utmost care and attention, bringing the drink to its fullest richness. And the preparation of Matcha is a ritual in itself.
Mate tea (or Yerba Mate) is a typical South American drink. It is one of the most favoured drinks in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Now it is becoming ever more popular in Europe.
The ingredients in Mate tea dampen the feeling of hunger and ensure that the body is supplied with important nutrients. Mate tea also stimulates kidney activity, metabolism and digestion, which ultimately supports the weight loss.
Herbal tea is technically not a tea, as it is not made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but is an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers. It is caffeine free and is both calming and soothing.
Rooibos, meaning "red bush", is a member of the plant family Fabaceae that grows in South Africa's fynbos. The leaves are used to make a herbal tea that is called by the names: rooibos, bush tea, red tea, or redbush tea.
Although it has little nutritional value, rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants, which may benefit health. The antioxidants in rooibos tea are polyphenols, which are chemical compounds that allow plants to fight stress. When people eat foods rich in polyphenols, they are less likely to suffer from inflammation.