Taking a look at tea cultivation
Teas are cultivated in many different ways, the dissimilarity in these methods allow for the tea to produce diverse flavours. One commonality across the teas is that the majority of teas come from the Camellia Sinensis bush.
It is this variation in processing methods that classifies the teas into the different varieties. Some teas are simply steamed after plucking, while others are bruised to change the leaves chemistry, mainly to promote oxidation. Other teas’ are allowed to ferment at varying levels, for a long periods of time.
The main varieties of tea are discussed below:
Black tea is produced by plucking the tea leaves by hand and there after they are left out in the sun until they are pliable enough to be rolled without the leaf splitting. The leaves are then put into a mechanical tumbler and rolled. This process causes the leaves’ juices to react with the air and then oxidize. The green leaves turn black and are then fired in huge drying ovens to produce the final product.
Fresh tea leaves are carefully placed on large bamboo trays and allowed to dry in the sunlight. The leaves are then placed into small hot roasting pans and quickly moved about. They are continuously rolled into balls and then re-roasted for several hours at a time. This process stops the chemical changes from occurring in the leaf by never allowing it to ferment.
After plucking, this type of tea is allowed to wilt in direct sunlight and is then shaken in bamboo baskets to lightly bruise the leaf. Oolong tea is referred to as a “semi-fermented” tea and is principally manufactured in China and Taiwan.
The chemicals in the leaf react with the air, producing a reddish leaf colour. After a desired amount of time, the leaf is fired and the fermentation process is halted.
Pu-erh is made from fermented Yunnan Black tea. After picking, Pu-erh is created by piling the tea for lengthy periods, allowing true internal fermentation of the leaf to occur.
White tea is plucked by hand within two days between the time the first buds become fully mature and the time in which the leaf unfurls. The leaves are then allowed to wither, allowing the natural moisture to evaporate before being dried.
Herbal tea is commonly referred to as tisane since it does not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family. Herbal teas are generally broken into three categories which are rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, and fruits. They can be delicious hot or iced.
Fruit tea may be black or green teas flavoured with a natural essence of fruit. They mostly contain black tea as a base that can be of Indian origin like Assam, Darjeeling. Indian teas make a better base for fruit tea as they have higher flavour intensity.