My Mother Leeann really knew her teas and she gave me the appreciation for a great cup of Chinese tea. If you are only familiar
with teas that come in a bag, then you are missing out on a lot flavor and enjoyment. If you are not informed, shopping for Chinese teas can be intimidating and going to the Chinese Market to get it can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of different types to choose from. This is a great introduction to the world of Chinese Teas that was shared with me by my friend Lisa Boalt Richardson, author of The World in Your Tea Cup. If you like this then you can read about more tea from Lisa at her website www.lisaknowstea.com and her blog www.lisaknowstea.blogspot.com.
“As the second most popular beverage in the world (water is the first), tea has China to thank for its fame. Whether you like your tea hot or cold, white, green, oolong, black, or puerh—or all of them hot and cold as I do—you have China to thank for your drinking pleasure.
Here is a brief explanation of the tea to help you better understand the different types. It is important to note that all tea comes from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. It is the processing of the leaves that changes the leaves into a specific type of tea.
Usually just plucked and dried, white tea is the least processed type of tea. Although white tea might contain only the bud of the tea leaf, it may also contain the full leaf. The flavor is delicate, light, and sweet. This type of tea comes mainly from China, but other countries have started to make it as the demand has increased.
To make green teas, the tea leaves are plucked and allowed to wither slightly. They are then quickly processed. In China the leaves are fired in a wok to stop the oxidation. Other countries steam the leaves. The flavor is vegetal and fresh. China, Japan, and Korea are the most famous for making green teas, but other countries make this type as well.
These teas can vary from lightly oxidized (more green) to more oxidized (more brown). This is the most “fussy” tea to make and a tea master can really show his expertise with these teas. The flavor range is diverse and can vary from a light and floral for the more green style to mellow, sweet, and smooth for the darker styles. These tea leaves typically lend themselves to more than one steeping. The most famous oolong teas come mainly from China and Taiwan.
Black tea is allowed to fully oxidize; thus, giving it its dark color. This tea is sometimes referred in China as red tea. The flavor is well-rounded with a sweet
finish. Some have a smoky flavor to them as well. This type of tea is grown and processed around
This tea has not been totally dried but is allowed to “ferment” slowly using natural methods which is known as sheng (raw) puerh or is speeded up through a processing method and is known as shou (ripe or cooked) puerh . The naturally aged teas (sheng) can be quite pricey and are the only teas that get better with age. The flavors can vary from fresh and/or earthy to a more delicate and smooth flavor as the tea ages. At this time, puerh tea comes exclusively from China.”
Excerpted from The World in Your Teacup by Lisa Boalt Richardson © 2010 Harvest House Publishing. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.