De-mystifying Tea with Sophie Uliano
Did you know that all teas come from the same plant, Camellia Sinesis? Much like all wine comes from the same fruit - grapes, the tea is differentiated by what happens to it after it's been picked.
What Are The Main Types Of Tea?
There are four types: White, Green, Oolong and Black tea. Which type depends on how oxidized the tealeaves become after they are plucked from the tea bush. I think I can best illustrate this by showing you an apple that I took a bite out of an hour ago. As you can see, the moment I bit into it, it began to oxidize. The same thing happens with a leaf off the tea bush. Once the leaf is picked the tea maker goes to work to either halt oxidation or to allow the tea to fully oxidize.
Now, to stop oxidization and make a green tea, for example, this tea is gently steamed. As you can see here, we have the White tea, and this beautiful bright Green Sencha tea from Japan, which has a sweet, grassy vegetal flavor. The tea is further oxidized to make what's known as an Oolong tea, which is typically rolled into little balls, and finally, a fully oxidized tea is the black tea - which is the one we most commonly consume with milk. The lighter the tea, the less caffeine it contains. So the white has a little, and the black contains the most. The longer you brew the tea, the more caffeine is released. The lighter the color of the tea the more polyphenols, or antioxidants. So white is choc full, as is green.
|Beverage||Caffeine Per 8 oz Cup|
|White Tea||30-55 mg|
|Green Tea||35-70 mg|
|Oolong Tea||50-75 mg|
|Black Tea||60-90 mg|
Is It Better To Buy Loose Tea, Rather Than Tea Bags?
Yes, it is! Loose tea, also known as full leaf tea, has a much better flavor profile and is typically way better quality. Generally speaking, the lowest quality broken/old leaves are used in bags. When you pay more for a good quality tea, remember that you can get 3-4 steepings out of one brew because the quality is so good - so it works out being more cost-effective.
What’s The Best Way To Brew These Teas?
You need to use freshly poured filtered water for best results. This is because oxygenated water makes better tea. I also like to use filtered water because the filter can remove tastes of chlorine and other contaminants.
Does Each Type Of Tea Require A Different Temperature?
I have this wonderful Cuisinart Perfect Tea Steeper and Kettle that comes programmed with pre-set temps for each different tea. If you don’t have this special teakettle, you can approximate the temp by letting your water sit off the boil for 5 - 10 minutes depending on the tea you are brewing. Cuisinart Perfect Tea Steeper and Kettle
A low temperature (165 degrees) is required for a delicate green tea, a low (175 degrees) for a white, a medium (185 degrees) for Oolong, and a rolling boil for a black tea. This is very important because if the water is too hot your can scorch the delicate green tea and white leaves, and the brew will be very bitter. Steeping time also varies. Typically, the paler the tea, the less the steeping time: Green: 1-2 minutes, White 2-3 minutes, Oolong 3-4 minutes, Black 4-5 minutes. What About Herbal Teas?
An herbal tea is not strictly a tea. It's an "herb" or a "tisane." They do not contain polyphenols or caffeine, but can have wonderful health benefits. For example, lemongrass contributes to liver and pancreas health. Licorice aids in digestion. Peppermint can help with lung function. Herbs can be very beneficial. One of my favorites is this one by Zen Tea Traders; it’s called Herbal Sunset. This tea has lemon grass, rosehip, marigold orange peel and its finished off with Licorice root that gives it a natural sweetness. Licorice root is said to aid in digestion. As an antioxidant lemongrass, contributes to liver and pancreatic health by helping the body to more quickly remove toxins. It has also being linked to lowered or normalized cholesterol levels because of all it's sweet flavors, and because it's soothing and relaxing at the end of a long day. Zen Tea Traders Herbal Sunset.
For fresh, premium hand-crafted teas, visit Zen Tea Traders.