Understanding Tea and Tea Making

Have you ever wondered how tea is produced?

Why Green Tea differs from Black Tea? Or, what is White Tea?

Read on to #KnowYourTea

Camellia Sinensis (cam-MEE-lee-ah sin-EN-sis) is an evergreen plant, native to Asia, and it is from this plant’ leaf that we get tea. All four kinds – black, green, white & oolong.

So, what makes these teas different? To understand that, we must first go through the 5 steps involved in making tea.

Plucking is when the tea leaves and flushes, which include a terminal bud and two young leaves, are picked from the Camellia sinensis bushes.

Withering removes excess water from the tea leaves by either keeping it under the sun or leaving it in a cool breezy room to pull out moisture from the leaves.

Rolling usually done by hand or in some case with a rolling machine to shape the leaves. The rolling process squeezes out all the essential oils and juices, which further enhances the flavour of the cup.

Oxidizing In layman’s terms oxidization is the chemical reaction of tea when exposed to oxygen. The result is the browning of tea leaves to produce the flavour and aroma compounds in the teas. Depending on the type of tea being produced the oxidation process varies.

Firing is the final, most important stage. The leaves are fried in a pan or a wok or even baked before packaging the tea. Great care has to be taken to not overcook the leaves.

White Tea:

Pale green or yellow liquor and delicate in flavour and aroma.

White teas are plucked and then dried naturally. Drying can take up to two days and therefore some natural oxidization takes place. These teas are not rolled into shape and take the form they are dried in.

Zaira’s Lightening White Tea: https://www.zairatea.com/teas/white-tea/lightening-white/

Green Tea:

Yellow or green in colour with a toasty/grassy flavour with a mild vegetable like astringency.

Green Teas are plucked, withered and then rolled. The leaves are steamed or pan-fried till they dry out to stop the enzymes from turning the leaves brown – thus stopping oxidization. The leaves are rolled and shaped by hand.

Zaira’s Himalayan Green Dream  https://www.zairatea.com/teas/green-tea/himalayan-green-dream/

 

Oolong Tea

oolong tea leaf zaira tea

Pale yellow to green to a reddish-brown, the flavour ranges from light to full bodied, floral to grassy and sweet to toasty.

Oolong teas go through withering, rolling, oxidation and then drying. Oolong teas are traditionally rolled, twisted or curled into tight balls or thin strands and the enzymes are partially oxidized. But the process of both rolling of tea leaves and oxidization levels differs from tea maker to tea maker. Therefore the flavours and colours also vary.

Find the Handrolled Oolong Tea from Zaira at https://www.zairatea.com/teas/speciality-tea/handrolled-oolong-tea/

 

Black Tea:

Crown Jewels - black tea Zaira Tea

Red liquor sometimes with a yellow hue with flavours stronger, bolder and richer than the other teas

Black tea leaves are fully oxidized to create the black tea variant that produces a deep, rich flavour and an amber coloured liquor. This is one of the most popular types of teas.

Find a range of Exclusive whole leaf black tea at https://www.zairatea.com/tea-types/black-tea/

For someone who swears by black tea I have to point out, the black tea from the Assam region is typically malty, full-bodied and strong. While the black teas from Darjeeling are thin bodied, floral and fruity. But more about the difference in Darjeeling tea and Assam tea later.

 

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