Tea lovers, how well do you know your tea?
You would have often seen tea lovers talk passionately about their favorite beverage. However, only a handful would have tried out or known about the varieties of tea across the globe. No, not the tea preparations, but the tea leaves! All varieties of tea are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant but are differentiated based on how they are processed.
Does tea contain caffeine?
Camellia sinensis plant contains caffeine. The amount of caffeine in your tea is based on how many leaves you use, how hot you steep them, and how long you steep them. Fact: Herbal teas are not made from the same plant, hence aren't technically tea.
A popular tea at present, green tea is primarily from Japan and China. Green tea is light with mild astringency and a grassy flavor. It is known as containing less caffeine than black tea. The green color is retained by "firing" the leaves as the first step to prevent oxidation. Other teas also go through the firing process, but not as the first step.
White tea is minimally processed, and not "fired" like green tea. It is not oxidized in the same way as black tea is. Since the leaves are neither rolled nor shaped, they tend to be large, thick, and dry. It doesn't get bitter or astringent readily. Less oxidized white teas have a fruity flavor character, while more oxidized ones have a woodsy flavor profile.
Oolong, or wulong, tea is semi-oxidized. The leaves are bruised by being tossed or shaken in baskets eventually changing the oxidation process. Often described as "partially oxidized tea," the leaves go through an elaborate transformation of withering, shaking, pan-firing, rolling, drying, and baking. Depending on the oxidation level, the flavor profile ranges from light and fragrant to dark and full-bodied.
Black tea has leaves that are heavily oxidized which gives them a dark appearance and changes the aroma and flavor distinctly. Black tea is defined by its high level of oxidation. Thus the flavor profile tends to be full-bodied, strong, with a varying degree of maltiness. Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Sri Lanka are well-known black tea-producing regions globally.
Dark tea is largely known as the pile-fermented tea from Hunan province in China. Finished tea leaves are stacked into piles, wetted, and covered as part of the pile fermentation process. The heat and moisture are carefully regulated to aid in the development of beneficial bacteria. These teas mature nicely and develop a profile with time. Hunan black teas have a sweet, pine/hay-like flavor.