Basics of Tea
All tea comes from the same plant: the camellia sinensis. How it is processed, however, determines the type of tea it will become.
There are four major types of teas; white, green, oolong, and black teas. In general, each estate and garden uses a single style of processing which is usually determined by geography, including elevation, moisture level, and farming practices.
Types of Tea
White teas are among the rarest of teas in the world. They are the least processed. White tea is hand plucked, unopened buds, and often loaded with downy hairs. It brews up a subtle blend of sweetness and vegetal flavors. White teas are grown all over the world, however the best come from Fujian province in China and Sri Lanka in South Asia.
Black teas range from mellow teas from China to full-bodied teas from Assam, India. Often they are served with milk and sugar. Black teas are withered, rolled, fully oxidized, and fired in an oven. This process creates the warm toasty flavors. In the best teas complex flavors that are reminiscent of honey, malt, and cocoa develop.
Green teas are the most ancient teas. Originally from China, they were also transplanted to Japan many centuries ago. Green tea production methods vary but the focus is always to fix the green color. Thus, green teas are not oxidized.
Oolongs were developed after green and black teas. Originally they were developed
in the Chinese coastal province of Fujian and eventually moved down the coast of
China and across the waters to Taiwan. Repeated rolling brings the tea to the desired
level of oxidation. All this work makes for very fragrant teas that are light in body
with flavors reminiscent of peaches or tropical flowers.
Herbals teas; although not derived from the tea plant, thus not tea, herbal infusions have an ancient pedigree flowers, seeds, bark, and special flavoring are used to make the best herbal blends. Traditionally, herbals have been used to calm or stimulate or treat minor ailments. Light in body, the colors of herbals vary from pale yellow to brilliant red, with flavors that range from mild to robust.