What Is Tea? Everything You Need To Know About Tea 🌿
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. Millions of people are probably having a cup of relaxing infusion at this moment.
But how many of us actually have an idea of where tea comes from? What is tea? How is tea made? Is there a difference between black tea and rooibos tea?
We look to answer all of these questions, and more, in this extensive tea-guide!
1. What is tea?
Tea comes from the leaf of a very special plant, called Camellia Sinensis. Since the time that tea was discovered, the plant took many roads and shapes throughout history, from starting a war to being used as medicine.
Not many people know that in fact all black, green, matcha, white, oolong, and pu-erh teas are processed and prepared from the same plant: Camellia!
Tea has a unique chemical composition. It is rich in "flavonoid polyphenols", especially the natural antioxidant called "catechin". These protect blood cells and give tea its medicinal properties. They are the reason tea is good for your health!
Tea also contains l-theanine, a special amino acid that that boosts our mood and brings a sense of relaxation.
It's important to note that not all Camellia Sinensis brews have the same level of antioxidants, l-theanine, or caffeine. It all depends on how tea leaves are processed. This is how we get Black, Green, White, Oolong, and Puerh teas.
How the tea leaf is prepared depends on the level of oxidation - a chemical reaction where the tea leaf is exposed to varying levels of oxygen. This determines the type we get and the tea health benefits that come with them.
2. Types of Tea
Unlike other plants or fruits being exposed to oxidation (e.g when an apple turns brown), with Camellia oxidation is necessary as it gives the tea its unique flavour and triggers the flow of antioxidants, l-theanine, and caffeine that benefit our body and mind.
This is why white tea is the closest to the raw state of the plant and is sensitive to high temperatures in water, whilst Black tea is highly oxidised and can handle high temperatures in water. Oxidation doesn't affect how healthy a tea is for you - all teas have health benefits for you!
3. Tea Uniqueness
There are other aspects that make tea unique, such as variety, location, and harvest date.
After tea was discovered thousands of years ago, it has evolved in many ways. Today, farmers cultivate more than 2,000 tea varieties.
Similar to wine, a tea's origin and how tea leaves are grown affect its growth due to climate, soil quality, vegetation, and overall surroundings. It's why Chinese green teas are different from Japanese ones, as well.
Harvest Date & Craftsmanship
The stage of the plant impacts harvest times and tea's flavour, as well as how good tea is for your health. This, coupled with specific crafting styles passed down generations, make a big difference in the finished tea.
4. General Benefits
Tea has a multitude of health benefits. When you drink tea daily, you will notice that tea is good for digestion, constipation, bloating, weight loss, period cramps, headaches, and throat aches! No wonder tea is one of the most beloved drinks in the world. Here's a few of the main reasons why drinking tea is good for your health and wellbeing:
Now that we understand where tea comes from, how tea is processed, and why tea is good for our health, let's take a deeper look into each type of tea.
5. White Tea
White tea is crafted through a process called fading - the young leaves are harvested and left to wilt. This type of tea is the closest to the raw state of the Camellia plant, as there's not additional processing involved.
White tea is similar to champagne. Its origin plays a huge part in the flavor and quality of the tea. Fuding County in China (where we source Teaura's white teas) is the birth-place of white tea and is still the most prominent and relevant place to source it from.
The 3 main health benefits of white tea are:
White tea may protect against osteoporosis
Helps protect your teeth from bacteria
Reduces chronic inflammation
Some White Tea varieties include:
6. Green Tea
Green tea requires special care when handling to not break the leaves. The young Camellia buds and leaves are hand-picked and left to bask in the sun. Finally, the tea is either pan baked (in China) or steamed (in Japan) in order to avoid the on-setting of oxidation.
Probably the most famous green tea is matcha, the powder form developed by the Japanese. One of the reasons matcha is so popular is thanks to how versatile it is. You can have matcha smoothies, matcha latte, matcha cakes and cookies, or a simple matcha tea with water! This green powder is also packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of matcha tea contains the same nutritional value of ten cups of brewed green tea.
Yet green tea is one of the most varied in terms of types and flavors; there are many loose-leaf green tea varieties in the Swiss teashops. Ensure you pay special attention to some of them, as green tea has some great benefits for your health:
Green tea supports your heart and brain's health
This tea boosts your immunity
Helps balance your blood sugar levels
|Japanese Green Tea Varieties||Chinese Green Tea Varieties|
|Kukicha||High Mountain Dragon Well|
|Genmaicha||Bi Luo Chun|
7. Oolong Tea
This type of tea is semi-oxidized, with levels varying between 15% to 80%, which means there's a wide variety of flavors. After the leaves are bruised to come in contact with air, they are pan fried to stop the oxidation process. Finally, they're either rolled in small balls or dried into individual strips.
The light oxidation brings out fresh, floral, and creamy notes. With more oxidation, the tea is slightly drier, with sweet, toasted notes.
The main 3 benefits of Oolong tea are:
Oolong tea may help in diabetes prevention
Improves the wellbeing of your brain
Oolong tea is good for your teeth and bones
Some Oolong Tea varieties include:
8. Black Tea
Black Tea is actually called Red Tea in China, due to its color. It is close to being fully oxidized, with variations between 90-95%. Farmers harvest the leaves and use a hand-rolling machine to bruise them, release the tea oils, and begin the oxidation process. The leaves are then roasted to remove the moisture.
Black tea has high caffeine content, making it a perfect candidate for a much-needed gradual release of energy. It's also the least pretentious tea, retaining its flavor for several years.
The main benefits black tea has on your wellbeing are:
Improves your cardiovascular health
Black tea is good for digestion
Increases your energy levels
Some Black Tea varieties include:
|Lychee Black Tea||Assam|
|Black Dragon Pearls||Ceylon|
9. Pu-Erh Tea
Pu-Erh is a misunderstood tea; surprising, given that throughout history only emperors would drink it. It comes from the Yunnan province in China. The land there is dark and rich, with big leaf tea trees growing high and wide. This combination, in addition to the fermentation process gives the tea its strong amber-like color and its clean, fresh, and earthy taste.
Pu-Erh is an excellent digestive tea and you can brew it many times. The secret is going 'gong-fu style', by using more leaf and shorter steep times, of 20 seconds.
Pu-Erh comes with a variety of benefits, such as:
Pu-Erh is an excellent digestive, often served after a big meal - this tea is also good for constipation
Improves cholesterol levels
May boost your liver's health
Some varieties of Pu-Erh Tea include:
10. Herbal "Teas"
Contrary to common belief, tea is not just any plant thrown in boiling water and left to infuse. 'Herbal teas' are not actually 'tea', as they do not come from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis. These are 'infusions' or 'tisanes'. Herbal infusions contain dried flowers, leaves, herbs, seeds, roots, or any other edible/ safe part of a plant.
The range of herbal tea health benefits depends on the plant. The nutrients in plants are also affected by various water temperatures, so be aware of how each plant responds.
Some herbal tea varieties include: