This week PartySugar is planning a lovely tea party so I thought I'd take a minute to talk about the different kind of teas. If you don't count herbal teas, all tea surprisingly comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensi); the different types of tea are a result of how the leaves are processed once picked. Herbal teas come from an infusion of fruit and herbs (like chamomile, rose-hips, mint) and not the tea tree. So what are the different kinds of teas? Well, there are four basic types: black, green, oolong and white. However there are a few others as well. To learn how to tell them apart,
- Black Tea - The tea leaves are allowed to fully oxidize, so the leaves of the tea are darker than others. It has been the most popular type of tea in western countries due to the fact that it has a longer storage life and was more suitable for transport in the early days of tea trade. Often referred to as "red tea" in many parts of Asia.
- Green Tea - The leaves of green tea are un-oxidized or minimally oxidized by steam or dry cooking in hot pans. The steaming process allows the leaves to retain their green color. Due to the shorter shelf-life, green teas should be consumed as soon after production as possible.
- Oolong Tea - The oxidation process is stopped somewhere between green and black tea, usually within 2-3 days. It generally has more flavor than green tea, but brews lighter than black.
- White Tea - Made from the buds and young leaves of the tea plant. In order to stop the oxidation process, the leaves are fried or steamed immediately after picking. It is very delicate in taste and has a unique sweetness. In general, the price of white tea is usually more than the others.
- Post-fermented Tea - These leaves undergo a second oxidation and are meant to be aged. It's also produced from the mature, larger leaves of older tea trees. It can take several years to age. Pu-erh is the most common type of post-fermented tea.
- Yellow Tea - A special tea processed similarly to green tea, however the drying phase is much slower.
- Herbal Tea - Made by infusing or boiling leaves, seeds, flowers, stems, roots, and bark of various plants. It is not a "true tea" since the leaves do not all come from the tea tree.