All ‘true’ teas come from the same variety of plant: the Camellia Sinensis. The differences in flavour are generally governed by geographical and climatic variances from which the leaves come from – the temperature, altitude and soil in which it is grown and the way the tea is processed. Each category of tea is processed in a different way. Each category has numerous alternatives and can have variations made through the addition of flavours and aromas and by infusion or by blending different teas together. Tisanes and Infusions are not teas, but often called ‘tea’ as they are often brewed and drunk in the same way.
BLACK TEAS: Although processing methods for Black teas vary widely from country to country, they are always based on four stages: withering, rolling, oxidation (sometimes called fermentation) and firing (or drying).Traditionally, leaves are spread out in warm air and allowed to wither for up to 18 hours, to reduce their water content. The soft and pliable leaves are then rolled to press and twist the leaves, breaking the cells inside to release the natural juices and enzymes to start the oxidation process.The tea is then left in cool, humid air for 20 to 30 minutes or longer to oxidise. The tea darkens and develops tea chemicals known as “Theaflavins”, which are antioxidant poly-phenols. To stop oxidation, the tea is then heated to 115 – 120 degrees Centigrade. More modern manufacturers use the Cut Tear and Curl (CTC) method, which gives a smaller leaf which brews more quickly and yields strong liquor more suitable for teabags. The tea is withered and then cut up in a CTC machine, before being left to oxidise. Browse thorough our selection of online black tea and blends and discover a world of taste and flavour.
GREEN TEAS: Green tea is processed differently in each country and region. The process involves drying or withering to remove some of the water, then steaming or pan-firing to remove the enzymes from the leaf. Next, the leaves will be given a series of rolling and/or firings to shape and dry the leaf. This process stops leaf enzymes from changing the leaf, resulting in an UN-oxidised tea. There are a wide variety of green teas, ranging from the strong Gunpowder of China to the light and delicate Sencha of Japan.
WHITE TEAS: White tea is the least processed of the teas. Only the smallest bud and leaf from the tip of the tea bush is picked and dried in the sun or warm drying room. These teas brew to give a champagne coloured liquor that has a very soft, sweet, velvety flavour. The antioxidant levels are said to be higher than in other types of tea.
OOLONG TEAS: Oolong teas are traditionally produced in China and Taiwan. Two different styles of oolong exist:The first type is the dark, open-leafed oolongs, which are made by withering the leaf in the sun outdoors and then indoors on bamboo baskets to remove the excess water. The leaves are shaken in the baskets through this process to break the leaf cells and release the enzymes to start the oxidation process. When oxidation is about 70% complete, the leaf is turned in a hot panning machine to stop oxidation.The second type is the greener rolled or “balled” oolongs, which also start with the withering and rolling process. However, when the leaves are only 30% oxidised, they are put through the hot panning process to stop oxidation. The leaves are then rested completely overnight. The next day, the leaves are placed in bags and into special rolling machines and squeezed and rolled up to 60 times to create rough green pellets. The pellets are then dried in big ovens.
PU-ERH: (pronounced ‘poo-air’). Pu-erh Tea originates in the Yunnan province of China. Traditionally believed to be the ancestral home of all Chinese tea plants. The methods of cultivation and production of Pu-erh tea are unlike that of any other tea. The tea bushes are grown alongside an aromatic tree, which grows much taller than the bushes. After the leaves are plucked and processed they undergo a composting and ageing method to obtain that distinctive Pu-erh quality. Many are aged for four years or more, while others are aged for up to fifty. Pu-erh teas are fragrant, smooth, sweet and earthy. Pu-erh can be black, green or scented. It comes in loose-leaf form or compressed into cakes of many different shapes and sizes. As they contain less caffeine than black or green teas, they are widely consumed after dinner. Pu-erh is also thought to be a digestive aid and an enemy to cholesterol. Recent research is finding proof for these ancient beliefs. Milk is not recommended as a compliment for this tea, though not entirely discouraged.