With the exception of herbal infusions, all teas come from the camellia sinensis plant. Differences among the varieties are mainly due to the method of processing.
Black teas owe their distinctive flavour and colour to natural oxidation or fermentation. Throughout the picking, drying and rolling process, natural enzymes in tea leaves come in contact with air, which changes the appearance and flavour of the tea.
Green tea is simply tea that has not been oxidized or fermented. After picking, leaves are heated to destroy the enzymes that are responsible for oxidation. Green tea contains antioxidants and is reputed for its health benefits.
White tea is a very rare type of tea grown only in the Fujian province of China. It can be harvested for only a few short weeks each year.
Herbal teas or tisane
Herbal tea is an infusion made with any plant other than the leaves of the tea bush. Many varieties exist. Common examples are infusions made with anise, chamomile, mint, licorice root, yerba mate and verbena. Many herbal teas are consumed for their relaxing or sedative properties.
Flowering teas, or blooming teas, are fragrant, aromatic teas made from small bundles of dried tea leaves and flowers sewn together with cotton thread into ball. When steeped, the ball expands and unfurls like a blooming flower. Flowers used in these teas typically include jasmine, lily, hibiscus, chrysanthemum, globe amaranth and osmanthus.
Loose tea leaves are generally regarded as superior in quality to bagged tea. This is due to the fact that loose tea leaves are larger than those in tea bags. When tea leaves are broken up, the components and essential oils that give tea its flavour can evaporate. This often results in a dull, lacklustre brew.
Although many supermarket brands of bagged tea lack the rich flavour of loose tea leaves, better tea merchants offer quality tea bags with large tea leaves.
This is the highest quality of tea leaf harvested from a tea bush. It is made up of the youngest leaves that have opened at the very tip of the plant.
This is the next youngest leaf after orange pekoe.
The third category of tea leaf
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