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Green and black tea both come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, a member of the evergreen family that thrives in semi-tropical climates. This is the only plant from which “real” tea is produced. All other beverages that are loosely referred to as “tea” such as “herbal teas” are really herbal infusions or decoctions. Tea comes in many varieties, however, based on the way the leaves are processed, all teas are divided into four basic types: black, green, oolong, and the very rare white. 

BLACK TEA is produced when newly harvested leaves are crushed and exposed to air. This enzymatic process (oxidation–similar to what happens to a cut apple or pear when left exposed to air) changes the colour of the leaves from green to brown and, when dried, to black, resulting in a delicious, rich flavour and color. Black tea is the most popular tea in the West.  Black teas are full-bodied and are able to withstand the addition of sweeteners and milk.

Popular Indian black teas include Assam Tea (sold as English Breakfast Tea): this robust tea goes well with milk; Darjeeling (a Himalayan tea with a flowery bouquet) and Nilgiri, grown in the hills of South India. The climate and terrain of the area where the tea is grown gives each variety its characteristic flavor which is why the region is often a part of a tea’s name.

GREEN TEA has a more delicate taste and is light green/golden in color. Green teas are not oxidized but merely withered and dried.  The leaves are steamed right after the withering stage, which destroys the enzymes that would otherwise cause the darkening. The steamed leaves are rolled and immediately fired. The brewed tea is a pale green liquid, with the grassy flavor of the fresh plant. Because the tannins do not go through the oxidizing process, which has a mellowing effect, green tea can be bitter, more astringent if it is steeped for a long time.  

Oolong Teas are the teas that are most often served in Chinese restaurants.  Oolongs are processed in the same way that black teas but they aren’t allowed to oxidize fully. Predictably, the flavor of the semi-fermented tea is somewhere in between black tea and green tea.  

White Tea is minimally processed, usually only air-dried and slightly oxidized. The highest quality white teas are picked before the leaf buds have opened, while still covered with silky white hairs. Of all teas, whites probably have the least amount of caffeine. 

Herbal Teas are only called teas because they are steeped the way “real tea” is, but are not made from the Camellia sinensis plant.  Technically, herbal or medicinal teas are “tisanes” or “infusions”. Herbal and “medicinal” teas are created from the flowers, berries, peels, seeds, leaves and roots of many different plants. Chamomile and Peppermint are just two of the most popular herbal teas available today.  

Green tea is touted as having  two to three times the antioxidants of black tea but the fact remains about twice the amount of leaves is used to make a cup of black tea so the antioxidants per cup of black is still high.

Source: Financial Express “The humbler cuppa fights back.” Read the complete article HERE

OTHER RELATED POSTS ON TEA BUDDY
Tea talk on Tea Buddy
What is Assam Tea?
Types of Assam tea: ORTHODOX & CTC
How is Assam Tea Made?
Is global warming changing the flavor of Assam Tea?
 
 Shona Patel’s debut novel Teatime for the Firefly is a love story set in a tea plantation in Assam. You can read more about it HERE.  She is represented by April Eberhardt Literary.

What tea do you drink? Please share!

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