Types of Teas
There are three basic categories of tea which differ according to the manner in which they are produced. Green, Oolong and Black tea each have their respective subcategories such as white, yellow, light or heavily fermented, or compressed. The diverse environmental conditions in which the plants are grown, the age and number of leaves used, and the final appearance of the leaves also contribute to creating the enormous variety of products on the market.
Green tea are made from typically smaller leaves. Undergoing a minimum of processing, they are also referred to as non-fermented tea. The leaves are first spread out on cool cement floors or rattan racks and allowed to wilt for a few hours. The leaves are then heated to remove much of their moisture and to stop the the oxidation process. After another chance to rest for a while, the leaves are finally dried until only 3% moisture remains. Green tea have long been enjoyed for their health-giving qualities as well as their unique and often subtle flavor. Interestingly, the aroma and taste can be quite different from one another. The color of the liquor can range from a bright jade green to a pale yellow and is best when drunk without any additions.
Referred to as half or semi-fermented, Oolong tea is made by combining elements of green and black tea processes. After wilting, the usually larger, older leaves are carefully rolled around on rattan trays in order to "bruise" their outer edge. The black outer and green inner parts of the leaf give this tea its characteristic qualities. The liquor is usually a light brown and can sometimes reveal a slight fruity taste. Some high grade Oolong leaves can even be brewed up to 10 times.
Black tea come from many parts of the world. Taking up to ten separate steps to process, these fully ferrnented leaves are also referred to as red tea for the dark reddish color of their brew. The leaves start out whole but are usually broken or torn during processing. Black tea have a robust flavor yet often a mild aroma. Taste can range from slightly fruity to pungently smoky and are sometimes taken with milk, sugar, lemon or other additives. Bring fresh water to a full boil when making these teas.
It is common practice to blend two or more black teas from different regions, even different countries, with one another to ensure consistent quality or create unique flavors. Other, non-tea, ingredients such as fruits, flowers, spices, and herbs are also mixed with a base of black tea. The result is a full bodied beverage and an almost limitless variety of unique flavors. THE TEA HOUSE can even prepare your own personal special blend.