Facts About Tea
Learn About Tea
Did you know that all tea is produced from a plant called Camellia Sinensis? There are thousands of different varieties of teas available in the world. They vary by the region it was grown, the time of year picked, and the processing method. Tisane and Herbals do not contain the Camellia Sinensis plant and are usually caffeine free. Rooibos comes from the Rooibos plant otherwise known as Aspalathus Linearis and is also naturally decaffeinated.
Grades of tea can often be confusing. Black tea from India and Sri Lanka is usually divided into leaf and broken leaf grades. Leaf grades generate flavor and color more slowly than broken grades. Leaf grades are usually variations of OP (Orange Pekoe), e.g., FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe). Broken grades are usually BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe), Fannings or Dust and are essential to the production of tea bags. Black tea, when steeped, can range in color from a very pale amber to dark brown or red.
Green tea comes mainly from China, Japan, Taiwan and, to a lesser degree, from India. Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia Sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea does not necessarily steep green in the cup. Its color can be green or brown or yellow. The critical difference between green and black tea is that the leaves are not allowed to ferment. The tea is, instead, steamed or pan-fired, rolled and fired. Green tea is not graded similar to black tea but classified according to age, style of the leaf and manufacture. Some loose green teas can be infused with flowers, fruits, or have added flavors like cinnamon and vanilla.
Oolong Tea, also known as wu long tea, is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet aroma. Most people commonly recognize oolong tea as the Chinese tea served in Chinese restaurants. Oolong tea is between black and green teas oxidation process. The partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea's color and characteristic taste. Oolong tea may boost metabolism and help reduce stress.
White tea is the purest and least processed of all teas. Its leaves and buds are picked just before they are fully open, when they are covered in fine white hairs. This is where white tea gets its name. White tea is the least processed of the three teas. Because of this, it retains a high amount of antioxidants. This loose leaf tea brews a light color and flavor.
Herbal, Healing, Tisanes and Rooibos Teas
Herbal teas are not teas at all and do not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family, but are a mixture of herbs. Because they are used like teas, i.e., in tea bags or steeped in water, they are called “teas.” Herbal teas can be broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, and fruits. They can be delicious hot or iced. Rooibos Tea, or red tea, is made from a South African red bush. Rooibos can be red or green. The red Rooibos leaves are bruised and oxidized, while the green Rooibos leaves are specially treated to prevent oxidation, leaving them closer to their natural state. Rooibos teas can be delicious hot or iced.
Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags
Although commercially packed teabags may be more convenient than loose leaf tea, the finest teas are best enjoyed in their loose leaf form. Common mistakes people make in brewing tea are not using fresh water, using the wrong amount of tea and steeping too long or too little. Steeping too long can make for a very bitter cup of tea.
Caffeine content in tea is widely debated. The broad agreement seems to be that tea has about half the caffeine content as that of a cup of coffee. Black tea is reported to have more caffeine than green while herbals have none. Want to make your tea decaffeinated? Just steep the tea, discard the liquid and steep again!
The health benefits of tea are everywhere in the media today. There is evidence that it prevents cancer and strokes, strengthens the cardiovascular system, aids in digestion, reduces tooth decay, reduces allergy symptoms, enhances the immune system, purifies blood, assists the liver and may reduce bacterial infections and food poisoning.