What is tea? What differs tea and herbal tea? What kind of teas are out there? Find out more in this article about tea
Tea is the beverage people is drinking most in the world second to water. Tea is a part of many cultures around the world in one form or another, from the iced teas in the US, the afternoon tea in the UK and the elegant cha no yu of Japan.
But what is tea really? Tea is a beverage made of water and leafs or sometimes stems of a plant called Camellia sinensis or simply tea plant.
Camellia sinensis is native to the southeast China and the countries in that area. Camellia sinensis has two major subspecies called Camellia sinensis sinensis and Camellia sinensis assamica.
The Sinensis type is more common i China and Japan and grows in a little more cooler climate with a little more flowery taste while the Assamica type is more common i India and other warmer countries since it grows in a more tropical climate.
Of course there's other varieties, especially now when researchers are trying to find types that can stand more drought and frost, but I can't list them all here.
The tea types
There's six types of tea. Black and green tea is fairly common everywhere but there's also White tea, yellow tea, oolong and pu erh' (the latter have many other names and spellings).
You can devide those into two subgroups, oxidized och unoxidized teas.
Green and white is belonging to unoxisized teas and black tea, yellow tea, oolong and pu erh' belongs to the oxidized group.
There's also one kind of tea worth naming and that is purple tea. It's not really a type of tea since it depends on what kind of leafs the tea harvester is picking and not in the process of making the tea that differs all the other types of tea. But you may have heard of it.
The making of tea
Even though all types of tea starts with a leaf of Camellia sinensis it's a long way from the tea plant and your teacup.
I Won't get into the details in this article but I'll try to give a short explanation.
Fist of all you pick the tea leaves, normally you use the young tea leaves. Two leaves and a bud. But in some cases the older leaves called Souchong is used. For example in oolong. The leaves are still normally picked by hand but in some countries a mechanical picking process is used.
Then the leaves are processed, still normally by hand but in some cases with machines. The processing differs between the diferent tea types from the least processed tea, white tea to pu-erh who is stored for many years before selling.
In the end wholesalers chose the teas most fitted for the teablend or teashop most fitted for that tea and blend, flavor and/or sell the teas on to teashops all over the world.
In the end the tea ends up in your cup ready to drink. More on how to make the perfect cup of tea and more about the different tea types will come later.
Source: The books "Te från sencha till lapsang" and "Te"