Tea - Camellia Sinensis
- Created: 20 August 2014
I have followed up last months article, with this articles about Camellia sinensis, common Green, Black and White Tea. It is an evergreen plant that grows commonly in altitude in tropical and subtropical climates, though there teas that grow in marine environments and in the UK where the climate is colder. Best growth is in high rainfall areas and in elevations up to 1,500m above sea level. It takes 12 years for the plant to be ready for harvesting.
The tips or the “flushes’ are picked. It will grow a new flush every 7 to 15 days. Two major varieties are used sinensis for Chinese Formosan and Japanese teas and the Assamica variety for the Indian teas. Within these varieties there are many other strains. They are often categorized by leaf size. The smaller the leaf, the more expensive it is.
Teas can further catagorised as to how they are processes.
There are six catagories here.
- Oolong—or Wulong
- Black - Red tea in China
- Post-fermented tea—black tea in China
Most commonly found teas are white, green, oolong and black.
When the tea is picked, it quickly oxidizes and the leaves darken as the tannins are released. The enzymes in the in the tea creates the enzymatic oxidation that is known as fermentation. In black teas the halting of the oxidation process is stopped by a process of drying. The drying process must be precise to prevent growth of molds and bacteria.
So what is the different types of teas?
This tea goes through the most processing. The leaves are picked and then they are left in the sun to lightly wilt. Leaves then get rolled to break them and open their tissues. It starts to ferment and the leaves start to darken. They turn dark green, then red and finally to black. Once fermentation is complete then they are dried.
Tea leaves are plucked and then they are steamed or pan fired. It does not go through the oxidation or fermentation process. It does contain less caffeine and the leaves can be rolled into different shapes before drying, as in gunpowder tea, that is rolled into pellets. Sencha tea s rolled in fine strands. These leaves are then dried and packaged.
This tea is the least processed of them all. The leaves are picked early in the year when the hairs are still visible and the leaves and buds are still closed. Only the top leaves and buds are picked. The leaves are dried in the sun, not pan fried or steamed. They have a light and slightly sweet taste.
Oolong tea is like black tea in the fact it goes through a withering stage. It has a short wilting phase and then it is fired directly to prevent continued oxidation. The colour of the tea can be black or dark green depending on when oxidation is stopped. The longer the oxidation the darker the tea.
This is a flavoured tea. Jasmine flowers are used to scent the teas giving it a sweet and aromatic flavour. Petals are infused at night as this is when they release their fragrance. Today this process is more automated.
This tea is grown in districts in Sri Lanka 2000 ft above sea level giving a full blooded tea.
This comes from the Darjeeling province of India nestled in the Himalayan ranges.
So you can see there are many types of tea and these are influences by the soil, location and climate. So enjoy your cuppa.