Camellia Sinesis, The Mother of All Tea

Although many tea connoisseurs would attest to the statement that “all tea comes from the same plant,” this is never the less accurate.

I was amazed to learn that white, green, black, pu-er, and oolong teas were all products of the same plant. This is fascinating to me so I began to explore what made them so different. Below is a short guide to each and a way to more closely connect to your next cup…

*Disclaimer* – There are many factors which make a tea unique, everything from the process after picking to the location and soil of the roots. These in general are rough guides. What makes tea so unique are the many factors which create the art that is.

White Tea:

This tea is made from the leaves and buds of the camellia sinensis. Unlike other processes, this tea is typically left to wither and dry in the natural sun. Thus is the process that defines White Tea. The name ‘White Tea’ comes from the small, silver-like hairs on the unopened buds and contains the highest amount of antioxidants.

Green Tea:

As mentioned before, it is the process which dictates the classification. This process in particular has a broad spectrum…

Some artisan methods include: Sun-drying, basket, charcoal, or pan firing.

Some more modern methods include: Oven-drying, tumbling, or steaming.

Many believe that a re-firing of the leaves improve the flavor and increase the shelf life of the tea.

Two examples of varying processes include the flat, rolled tea leaves from Japan called Sencha (their most popular tea), and another popular green, Jasmine Pearl, which are tea leaves and buds picked and stored until the jasmine harvest. Just before bloom the tea leaves and the jasmine buds are set to “mate” during the night when the jasmine blossoms open, releasing their fragrance.

Black Tea:

Refers to the process of oxidation that takes place with typically a “stronger” flavor. Also known as “red tea” within China.

First the leaves are withered by blowing air. Next the leaves are either put through the CTC (crush, tear, curl) Method typically used for bagged teas, or the orthodox method which is done either by hand or a more delicate machine. This method is used typically for loose-leaf, a more traditional form. Next comes the oxidation process which occurs through controlled temperature and humidity. This can be done on a conveyor belt, or simply on a tray on the floor.

Finally comes the drying which “arrests” the oxidation process, stopping it in it’s tracks!

Oolong Tea:

What is characteristic about this tea is the unique process of intense withering under the sun as well as the oxidation process taking place before “curling and twisting.” Another distinct aspect of this tea is the wide array of distinct flavors that are presented.

Pu-erh Tea:

What separates this tea from others is the fermentation process that takes place after the leaves have been dried and rolled. Unlike other teas, Pu-erh continues to mature with age and will often have the province and date attached.

So here they are! The main 5 that you are likely to run into in your daily life. Here at the Good Medicine Lounge we carry all of these wonderful variations and would love to share with you a cup.

With a Warm Belly,