Tea types are determined by their mode of processing: Black, Oolong, Green, or White. Other designations refer to the location in which they are grown; e.g. Ceylon, Darjeeling, etc. They all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant.
Black teas are the most completely processed teas available. After whithering, they are allowed to undergo a full oxidation (usually called fermentation) which causes the leaves to turn black and gives them their characteristic flavor. They are also rolled to release their essential oils. The last step is the drying of the leaves to stop the fermentation
Almost exclusively produced in China and Formosa (Taiwan), oolong teas fall between the unfermented green teas and the fully fermented black teas. They are processed to be full-bodied teas and are therefore made from larger, more mature leaves.
The intent during the production of green tea is to preserve the healthy, natural and active substances of the fresh leaves so they may be released into the cup at the time of infusion. They are only allowed to whither before drying traditionally by wok frying to halt fermentation.
During the plucking, great care has to be given to the selection of the leaves. Usually only the youngest leaves, still covered with short white hair or down are used. The production of most varieties of white tea consists of only two steps: Steaming and drying (some white teas are very slightly fermented). The absence of withering, rolling and oxidation leaves the appearance of the leaves essentially unaltered. The white down of the unprocessed leaves is clearly visible and gives the final tea leaves their sliver-white appearance.
Now that we have the basics, we can add ingredients to enhance the flavor and enjoyment of the beverage. Fruits, herbs, berries, and flowers are commonly added to specialize or improve tea flavor.
While commonly referred to as tea, they generally do not contain any Camellia Sinensis leaves and technically are called "infusions". They are brewed in the same basic manner as a cup of tea and therefore are called ‘tea’ by many of us.
Preparing Fine Tea
Preparing a good cup of loose-leaved tea is neither difficult nor time-consuming.
Simply follow the five steps listed below.
Five steps for preparing tea
1. Use a preheated teapot. In the absence of a teapot, any odorless, heat-resistant pot will suffice (at least temporarily).
2. Add the recommended amount of tea leaves per cup. Experiment with the leaf quality to suit your taste.
3. For black and oolong teas, bring fresh cold water to a roaring boil and pour it over the tea leaves. For white and green teas, use water that has just started to steam slightly.
4. Allow black tea to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes, green for 1 to 3 minutes, and white and oolong for 2 to 5 minutes. Adjust the brewing to your taste. If the tea turns out to be bitter or harsh, it is often a sign of overbrewing.
5. Separate the leaves from the tea and serve. Some green, oolong, and lw te teas are good for multiple infusions - just add new hot water and increase the steeping time slightly. Repeat until the flavour starts to fade.
TEA... The Most Consumed Beverage In The World