What is tea?
Tea is Camellia Sinensis. If you know nothing else about tea, know that. No matter which of the six categories of tea we are talking about, they all come from from this one plant. And just as there are different dog breeds within one overarching species, within Camellia Sinensis, there are different cultivars and varieties. “Teas” made from other plants, like peppermint, ginger, and chamomile are considered herbals or tisanes. Likewise, flavored teas, such as the ever popular jasmine, is not really considered tea. While jasmine tea does have tea in it, the jasmine flavor, usually sprayed on, masking any flavor that the tea naturally gives off. Oftentimes this is a good thing, as lower quality teas are used to make jasmine tea.
How is tea processed?
After the leaf is plucked, it can be processed into six different types of tea–green, yellow, white, wulong, red, and black. A prevalent common misconception is that the categories are dictated by the fermentation of the leaf. Instead, each of these categories is a result of the making process that the leaf underwent after being picked. For example, although in wulong making, the leaf is partially fermented, it is incorrect to categorize wulong as a partially fermented tea. A partially fermented tea that is not wulong, for example, is yellow tea, but we will talk more about that in later posts.
All tea comes from Camellia Sinensis; the six categories of tea are determined by the processing steps undertaken once the leaf is picked. These two facts are the foundation of tea. Now that we have scratched the surface layer, a rabbit hole of information, questions, and exploration are revealed. The goal of this blog is to give you the information you need to better select and appreciate tea.
Check back every week as we dive deeper into each category and topic about tea with articles, videos, and interviews. Get the information before it is posted as well as other benefits by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page.
Top two photos by www.tea-drunk.com