تاريخ التحديث: 1 مايو 2020
Tea is one of the most famous and oldest drinks and the second most consumed worldwide after water. Nearly five thousand years ago, Chinese used the tea plant, which is known scientifically as: Camellia sinensis . Tea is now grown in more than 50 countries around the world and consumed worldwide. Different types of tea are made of this magic sub-tropical green plant: green tea, black tea and white tea..etc. These differences are mainly due to the processing method of the plant leaves after harvest.
Tea is grown under strict agricultural and climatic conditions. it requires a lot of sunlight and a big amount of annual precipitation, its production therefore is geographically limited only to areas within the tropical or subtropical climate. The best teas are grown in highland areas, particularly on steep slopes. both these Landforms shape and quality norms are factors that require harvesting tea manually without machines, which is a bit hard due to the high global consumption of tea.
The final tea that we are consuming had been processed through several stages. The first one is harvesting the Full-grown plants, which is often done manually to ensure quality as the use of machinery leads to collect broken or incomplete leaves, which affects the quality of tea.
The Withering stage occurs immediately after harvest as a preliminary drying process in which tea leaves are placed either in dark, ventilated rooms or in outdoors under the sunlights so as to reduce moisture content by 50-70%, allowing little oxidation, and developing the leaves aroma and flavor. This stage aims also to prepare tea for subsequent processing stages.
After withered, tea plants undergo a shaping phase that aims to enhance oxidation and concentration of tea flavor. This may be done in two methods: Rolling process which is essential for the production of traditional tea, also called “orthodox tea” or "Crushing, Tearing and curling" method referred to as "CTC", a modern Indian method invented In the 1930s to increase the weight of tea which can be packaged in bags or boxes.
The fourth stage is oxidation (sometimes called fermentation), a stage concerned with black tea of various grades, it determines the degree of tea color according to the targeted variety. Each grade requires a particular method of fermentation with a specific temperature and appropriate humidity. A proper fermentation is very important to obtain a tea of good quality.
The last stage is drying the leaves at high temperatures to reduce the moisture level in the manufactured tea by 3 to 6% and to stop oxidation and enzymatic activity, while maintaining the tea chemical compounds and flavor with a good shelf life before packaging.
There are two strains of tea most known and produced, one from China and the other one from India. The Chinese strain called “Camellia sinensis sinensis” is used to produce green tea, white tea and some black tea varieties. The Indian strain, called “Asamica”, is used to produce only black tea. There is also a third strain called Camellia sinensis cambodiensis, but it is not used for commercial tea.
The Chinese Camellia sinensis strain grows at moderate temperatures at altitudes up to 9,500 feet and produces about five crops a year. Tea bushes are 5 to 15 feet high and leaves may reach 5 centimeters tall.
Asamika grows in warm temperatures and heavy rains, especially in northeast India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Africa. Thanks to this ideal climate, a high yield is harvested at a rate of one crop every 8 to 12 days. The tea bushes within this strain can be 30 to 60 feet long and produce larger tea leaves (up to 20 cm). This strain is ideal for producing black teas.
There are many different types and varieties of tea, the most consumed are black and green. This difference is mainly due to the various processing methods of tea leaves after picking. In this section we will present the most famous species in the world: white tea, green tea, yellow tea, black tea, Oolong tea, Pu'Erh tea, flavored tea and herbal tea.
1 / White Tea:
It is called white tea because it is made from very small tea plant buds which are coated with a layer of soft white silver cilia. This tea is harvested only in spring and is the least processed of all types. After harvest, the leaves are immediately dried in natural sunlight. It has a mild taste and a touch of fruit or floral flavor.
2 / Green tea:
Green tea leaves are harvested from the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant, then heated and dried immediately to prevent oxidation that might turn the green leaves into brown and change their fresh flavors. The limitation of green tea processing to these few phases is the reason why it retains a higher concentration of chlorophyll, polyphenols and antioxidants than other teas.
Green tea is one of the most popular types of tea produced and consumed in the east, especially in China and Japan. It is available in two categories according to its origin: Chinese green tea and Japanese green tea. they differ from each other because of the heating method: Japanese tea is exposed to steam, while Chinese tea is placed in large containers and exposed carefully to specific pan firing. Under these two categories exist a lot of varieties that taste different degrees of sweetness or bitterness depending on the brand.
3 / Yellow tea:
Yellow tea is a rare expensive type of tea. It had being drunk in China among the elite class, and is exchanged as a precious gift among important personage as a result of its rareness.
The process of producing yellow tea is similar to that of green but with the addition of encasing and steaming step, allowing the tea to oxidize slowly before drying; this also gives the leaves a slightly yellow color while being dried. The taste of yellow tea is amidst the white tea flavor and green tea’s. The major purpose of its production is to remove the distinctive grassy smell of green tea.
4 / Oolong tea:
Oolong tea has been consumed by Chinese for centuries. It is a kind of semi-oxidized tea amidst non-oxidized green tea and fully oxidized black tea; its oxidation rate is ranging from 15% to 85% depending on the brand. It has a variety of flavors from floral to herbal to fruity depending on the oxidation degree.
5 / Black tea:
Black tea is commonly known in China as "red tea" because of to the red color it gives to boiled water when added to it. It is a fully oxidized tea, stronger in taste than the other less oxidized teas; it is also the basic type for flavored tea that will be mentioned later.
Unlike green tea, which loses its flavor almost within a year, black tea retains the flavor for several years. for that, it has been of big interest to world trade.
6 / Pu'Erh Tea:
“Pu'Erh” is the name of a small town in the China’s “Yunnan” province, which had long been an important tea-trading center connecting Yunnan to Tibet. It used to be a famous traditional beverage in China; and it is made from the largest leaves of the Camellia sinensis Asamica trees located in the middle of Yunnan forests, which lasts for decades or hundreds of years.
This tea is unique due to its microbial fermentation process that can last for several months to several years after withering and drying processes; therefore, it is also called “fermented tea” and has a rich and fresh flavor.
7 / Flavored Tea:
Have you ever heard about Jasmine tea, peach tea, or berry’s tea? All these are true teas called 'flavored teas', which are prepared by adding floral, herbal to fruity extracts to the tea during the manufacturing stage. the extracts are poured or sprayed on dry tea leaves which are then mixed in large rotating drums filled with hundreds of kilograms of tea;
the rotation process lasts for about 30 minutes in order to ensure that the extracts are properly integrated and evenly distributed; some flavors, however, require much time. That’s the way flavored tea are produced and their taste varies depending on the added flavor: lemon, jasmine, vanilla or pomegranate ... and so on.
8 / Herbal Tea:
Although commonly referred to as “herbal tea”, in most cases this tea does not actually contain Camellia Sinensis plant. Unlike the former type (flavored tea) herbal tea contains only the herbal substance; such as ginger, hibiscus, or chamomile.. etc
It is obtained by dissolving, soaking or boiling plant materials (fresh or dried flowers, leaves, buds, roots ..) in hot or cold water to get healthy vegetable drink that is metaphorically called 'herbal tea'.
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