Hey Tea Squad! Here are a few basics to help you on your newly found tea journey. Once you start, we know you'll be hooked on exploring the extensive world of tea, flavours and tastes.
Firstly, lets look into where tea comes from, what it is and what it is not. It may not surprise some, but all Tea comes from one plant, the Camellia Sinensis. Herbal tea/tisanes are in fact, not a tea at all. They’re usually made of other natural products, but contain no actual tea. Cool right?
The plant itself - Camellia Sinensis can grow all over the world with different varietals. Early stories pay tribute to Shen Nung as the first person to drink tea. While out on expedition with his army he rested under a tree which was the Camellia Sinensis. In his hand was a fresh cup of boiled water which he left to cool, while waiting, the leaves from the tree drifted into his cup and steeped into a bitter brew. Shen Nung was also somewhat of a herbalist and interested in the medicinal properties of plants, so tasting this brew was a pleasure for him, especially when the effects of the brew were lively and awarded him energy. From there, the rest is history. Literally.
It is also favourable to note orgins and harvesting techniques as these will all contribute to a different flavour profile of your tea, even if they are the same type. This is much like coffee, wine and chocolate.
Different tea types are created by different processing methods -White, Oolong, Green, Yellow, Black/Red or Puer
White tea is made from early spring plucks or the young buds and leaves. These are dried as soon as they are plucked, in very controlled environments to ensure the desired flavours are met and no oxidation occurs.
Flavours are fruity and delicate. Famous tea types: Bai Mu Dan, Silver Needle
Oolong tea is harvested many times of the year. After harvesting the leaves are bruised and oxidised. The oxidation can be anywhere between 20% and 80% but once they have reached the desired oxidation they are fired or set then rolled. Your flavours will all depend on the processing factors and terroir. Famous Oolongs reign from the taiwan region and are known for their high standards of tea and high minerals in their soil.
Green tea is well known all over the world many people have bad experiences with green tea noting bitterness and never go back to it again this can be due to a number of factors including tea type and poor brewing techniques.
Green tea is plucked and then fired or steamed to prevent oxidation of the tea, they are then rolled and dried. There are many different types of green tea but one our favourites is a Japanese steamed Sencha which produces a sweet Umami flavour.
Black or Red tea is fully processed and oxidised which produces it dark coloured leaf with a brown or redish liquor. Chinese teas are often referred to as Red Tea where Indian teas or tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis Var. Assamica are referred to as a black. Black teas are more favoured for blending producing the popular household English Breakfast and Earl Grey blends.
Puer tea is fermented and left to sit in controlled environments. The processing techniques are still quite technical and prized Puer can be many many years old.
Enjoy your tea journey and happy tasting tea squad.