From First Pick To Last Drop | Tea From Beginning To End

 

All teas start out from the same place a picking of the leaves from there the leaves are processed depending on what the outcome of the tea will be.

Below is a chart that will be help explain the process you will notice that the white teas have the less processing, compared to the oolong teas that have the greatest amount of processing.

There are two picking seasons they are called first and second flush, once the picking is done the next step is oxidation

 

 

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White Tea

Processing of white tea is harvested before the leaves are fully open, when the buds have fine white hair covering them. This is much earlier than other teas are harvested. In addition, white tealeaves are not fermented. Rather their leaves are simply steamed and then dried, often right in the fields. This protects white teas delicate flavor.

Next, the white tealeaves and buds must be processed. White tea actually goes through very little processing, but the processing must be performed correctly.

The amount of oxidation depends upon how much of the enzymes are exposed and for how long. This oxidation is what causes the fermentation. So, to make different varieties of tea, you allow oxidation to go on for different periods of time.

White tea is not fermented at all. For this reason, it’s critical that the leaves not get bruised or broken in any way. This talent for harvesting the leaves without creating any bruising is one of the things that separate a very high quality tea garden from a mediocre one.

Once the leaves are harvested successfully, the tea leaves are left out to air dry and wither for a period of time. Next, they are fired or steamed to prevent the oxidation process from beginning. Often the steaming and drying of the tealeaves is performed right in the tea fields, to protect the delicate leaves.

It is this special care, along with the immaturity of the leaves that gives white tea its light sweet flavor and pale color.

Green Tea

Stir Frying – Fresh tealeaves are sautéed in a pan. This process is mainly used for export teas. Stir-frying gives green a strong fragrance and taste. Some common varieties of green tea that are stir-fried include gunpowder teas and Dragon well teas.

Roasting Tealeaves are dried in a roast basket or roast chest. In most cases roasted teas are used as the basis for flower scented teas. Roasting keeps the leaves intact and makes them appear as though covered in a white fluff. Monkey king teas are roasted.

Semi-roast and semi fry sometimes the stir-frying and roasting methods are combined. This method is used in order to retain the beautiful look of a roasted leaf combined with the strong fragrance and taste of stir-fried tea.

Solar drying this is the age-old method, whereby leaves are dried in the sun. Today these leaves are typically used as the basis for compressed teas. These are the green tea cakes you sometimes see.

Steaming the leaves are steamed at a very high temperature to dry them. The most famous steamed green tea is Sencha.

 

Oolong Tea

Over the last few years’ green tea has become very popular and is available in most stores and cafes. It is also used in all kinds of products such as shampoo, face cream, candles and many other daily items. Oolong tea is produced from the same plant, which is called Camellia Sinensis. The difference is that Oolong is a semi-fermented brew whereas green tea is unfermented.

A skilled worker who can ferment the tea to many different levels to create different varieties carries out the fermentation process. The leaves are stimulated until the oxidization process reaches the desired level and then cooked to finish the process.

The leaves are further processed after the fermentation to enhance the smell, texture and the flavor. Rolling and rubbing the tea do this. It is possible to achieve many different levels of tea, and when the processing is over a knowledgeable master of Oolong will check the leaves and give them a grade.

Usually, after picking, the leaves undergo withering, then bruised and dried. The leaves are either rolled or twisted by hand depending on the variety of oolong. While those may seem like straightforward steps, the number of different techniques as well as the precision timing employed give this partially-oxidized Chinese tea an enormous range of flavors, other than fragrances and liquor colors.

Black Tea

From the outset, you need to understand that the best tea blends are derived from leaves that have been harvested by hand. Pickers choose the most tender, youngest buds in order to ensure the highest quality tea.

The typical tea is processed through something called the crush and curl method. The small fragments that results are then utilized in teabags or in iced tea concentrates. However, a small fraction of the world is tea is hand-processed in the orthodox manufacture style.

A high-quality tea blend offers subtle flavor, an enticing aroma, vibrant color, and a full body.   In other words, its a blend that is truly memorable.   Once you’ve tried such a blend, you’ll never want to sample an inferior blend again.

Interestingly enough, black, green, and oolong teas are derived from the same plant. However, they differ significantly in the way they’re prepared. Oolong teas are partly fermented, while black teas are fully fermented. Meanwhile, herbal teas come from the flowers, leaves, bark, and seeds of other plants.

 

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You’ll brew white tea in much the same way as black or green tea. Use fresh, cold tap water, or filtered water. Put the water in a clean teakettle and put it on the stove to heat. While the water is heating, put hot tap water into your teapot to warm it up. Bring the water to a boil and then remove it from the heat for sixty seconds.

White tea should be brewed with water that is somewhere between 170 and 185∞ F. By bringing the water to a boil and then letting it sit for one minute, you should ensure just the right temperature for white tea.

During this sixty-second lull, remove the hot tap water from your teapot and add the white tealeaves. White tea is less dense and compact than black and green tea, so you’ll need to use more. Begin with two teaspoons per cup as a starting point, adjusting to your taste.

White tea should be steeped for about 5-8 minutes, depending upon your taste. It will be pale; don’t expect it to gain the color you’re used to seeing with black tea. Read the steeping directions carefully, white teas steeping recommendations can vary greatly. There are even some white teas that should be steeped for up to 15 minutes.

Because of its slightly sweet flavor, it’s recommended that you not sweeten white tea. In fact, tea connoisseurs suggest that white tea be consumed without any additives for best flavor. In addition to being delicious hot, white tea is also very good iced.

As you experiment with white tea, you’ll find varieties you particularly enjoy. Some will have a bit more of a flower flavor and some will be fuller bodied than others, though none will match the body of a black or green tea.

As you get to know white tea, buy just a little of a variety until you decide whether or not it’s right for you. Since white tea (particularly in loose form) is so expensive, it’s not wise to buy a large quantity until you know whether or not you’ll like it.

White tea is available today in bag form and ready to drink bottles, as well. However, nothing matches the flavor of brewing a cup of white tea at home from loose tealeaves and drinking it while its still steaming. Give white tea a try; you’re sure to love its sweet and refreshing flavor.

Oolong Tea

Over the last few years’ green tea has become very popular and is available in most stores and cafes. It is also used in all kinds of products such as shampoo, face cream, candles and many other daily items. Oolong tea is produced from the same plant, which is called Camellia Sinensis. The difference is that Oolong is a semi-fermented brew whereas green tea is unfermented.

A skilled worker who can ferment the tea to many different levels to create different varieties carries out the fermentation process. The leaves are stimulated until the oxidization process reaches the desired level and then cooked to finish the process.

The leaves are further processed after the fermentation to enhance the smell, texture and the flavor. Rolling and rubbing the tea do this. It is possible to achieve many different levels of tea, and when the processing is over a knowledgeable master of Oolong will check the leaves and give them a grade.

The history of Oolong tells us that it was first produced in Fujian province in China. Some of the finest tea still comes from this area although it is now also produced in many other places including Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.

One of the reasons that green tea has become so popular is that there are believed to many health benefits which can be obtained by regular drinking. These benefits are also reported to exist in Oolong and are retained even after the tea is processed. Some of the common benefits claimed are the stimulation of the metabolism and the ability to enhance the digestion.

If you are interested in trying some Oolong then it is recommended to find a quality supplier. There are many sellers on the Internet who can supply good tea and many who can supply not so good tea. The stuff in the local Chinese store tends to be of very low quality and not worth buying. Look for a specialist tea merchant and try a few different ones to find the best quality.

Some of the more popular varieties include Gao Shan, Tie Guan Yin, Vietnamese Golden Buds and Formosa Oolong which comes from Taiwan. Don’t be afraid to get stuck in and try a few varieties. I can tell you that a good Oolong is really a great tea so if you are not impressed with what you buy then shop around for another merchant because the good stuff is out there.

Below is a very nice Info graphic on how to brew tea, it’s very basic and easy to follow.  If you’d like you can find tea brewing guides at all tea shops.

 

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I will tell you from my own experience, these are just guidelines,  I love to brew my teas a bit longer then most, my teas are very dark and rich, however that is how I prefer them.  Find what works for you and enjoy tea the way you like it.  Thats what is great about brewing your own teas, you get to enjoy brew them your way.

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