All tea is made from the dried leaves of the same plant – Camellia Sinensis. The way it is processed produces the different types. The main ones are:
Black Tea :
Most of the 165 million cups drunk in Britain every day are black tea, usually taken with milk and sometimes sugar.
The robust flavour and dark colour is due to oxidation, or exposure to air, of the dried leaves. As an apple turns brown when cut, they gradually darken.
Black teas are produced in different regions eg. Assam and Darjeeling in India and in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Most of the tea we drink is a blend of more than one tea eg. English Breakfast. It may have additions – Earl Grey is infused with bergamot, Jasmine Tea with flowers – or even smoked as Lapsang Souchong.
Usually from China and Taiwan, oolong is semi-oxidised, so is between green and black tea.
Green tea is made with leaves dried soon after picking which prevents oxidation, and keeps the green colour. They are then rolled to release flavour.
The least processed of teas is simply the dried leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. It has a light, delicate flavour. White tea is rare as it can only be picked for a few weeks in a year.
Tisanes & Infusions:
Not strictly speaking tea, but infusions such as fresh mint, chamomile and redbush are delicious, healthy and caffeine free.
Many places in London offer lovely speciality loose leaf teas, a few of my favorites are here . I will be adding more as I go and will look at each type of tea in future posts – I hope you will join me.
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