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What are the different types of tea? All tea comes from the evergreen tea bush (Camellia Sinensis). The following terms only describe tea leaves after they are harvested from the tea bush and processed for consumption.
Green Tea Oxidization is a chemical reaction that takes place when tea leaves are picked and begin to wither and die. Green tea is not allowed to oxidize and is quickly dried, pan- fried or oven fired to dehydrate the tea leaves for storage. This process retains many of the polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids that are associated with the health benefits of drinking green tea.
Black Tea Black tea is allowed to oxidize which “ripens” the tea and creates a deep, rich, robust flavor with uniqueness based on the tea grower’s knowledge and skill. The oxidation process is commonly referred to as fermentation. This is technically incorrect because "fermentation" is a process in which yeast is converted into alcohol and sugar is converted to and released as carbon dioxide gas.
Oolong Tea Oolong tea falls somewhere between green tea and black tea in the amount of time the tea leaves are allowed to oxidize. Two terms often used to describe oolong tea are “green” and “amber” style. The “amber” styles are allowed to oxidize slightly more than the “green style” oolong tea. This results in a variety of smooth teas available that bear the makers style and tradition.
White Tea White tea is picked before the leaf buds fully open and are still covered with fine silky hairs. The delicate buds are quickly air dried to produce some of the rarest and most expensive tea available. White tea is said to have three time more antioxidants than green or black tea. Researchers for some of the large cosmetic companies have become very interested in white tea in recent years. The polyphenols in white tea have been shown to be very effective in mopping up free radicals that can lead to aging, and wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Pu-erh Pu-erh tea comes from the Yunnan province in China. Pu-erh tea has a distinct earthy aroma. This type of tea differs from other formed black tea because it is allowed to grow a thin layer of mold on the leaves. Of course these are harmless cultures and are reputably known in China for their medicinal effects. This makes sense because the antibiotic penicillin was first discovered through mold cultures.
Formed or Compressed Tea Bricks This could either refer to green tea or black tea that is pressed into tea bricks, medallions, balls or other impressions. In ancient times, this was necessary to keep compact for storage on long voyages by ship or camel. It also preserved the tea during these long journeys because the tea was so tightly packed that it sealed out air that would otherwise degrade the tea.
Flavored Tea Flavored tea is typically a black tea that's soaked in natural or artificial flavors. Today there are too many flavors to list. The most notable is Earl Grey,which is flavored with the oil of bergamot. Flavored green teas and herbal tisanes are also now available and gaining popularity and
Herbal Tea Herbal tea or herb tea is not really tea at all, since they do not contain leaves from the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis). Herbal teas are made from seeds, roots, flowers, or other parts of plants and herbs. They are often blended to make unique tasting infusions and more formally known as tisanes. Medicinal teas are herbal teas that are used for the treatment of ailments. These teas are gaining acceptance in western culture.