Chinese Tea classification
Surprisingly all tea varieties are produced from the leaves of one plant – Camellia Sinensis. The specifics of each variety is determined by the region the tea-plants are grown in, the season of harvesting of leaves and the method of their processing, the import stage of which is fermentation — oxidization caused by natural ferments.
According to Chinese classification, there are 6 basic tea categories, distinguished by degree of fermentation:
Green tea is almost not fermented — right after harvesting the leaves their fermentation is stopped by heavy heating. This is why green tea preserves its natural freshness and color so well, and its flavor and aroma feature dominant notes of summer herbs. Green and white teas are good for the health due to the high concentration of vitamins, minerals and strong antioxidants in them.
White tea – is low-fermented. It is produced in the early spring from buds and the upper leaves of the tea-plant. Tender leaves and buds are slightly withered and immediately dried at moderate temperatures in order to preserve their finest aroma and flavor. Short and reduced processing preserves the maximum healthy ingredients that tea leaves are so rich in.
Yellow tea – is ranked third after green and white teas according to the degree of fermentation. Made of the best staple material, yellow tea was for a long time a privilege available only to the Emperor and nobility. Even today it is considered a rather rare and elite tea. The tender and sweet flavor of yellow tea has no peers.
Oolong – is semi-fermented tea, the preparation of which is considered to be a true art form in tea production. Oolong is grown high in the mountains; its leaves are thick and extremely aromatic. Oolong tea is a mysterious drink, with a unique ability to change its flavor and aroma from one brew to another, each time opening new shades.
Black (red) tea – is completely fermented tea, which we used to call “black”, while according to Chinese tradition is red. The exquisite rich taste, intensive aroma and generous color of Chinese red tea will remind us of what the “classic” tea must have been like. Red teas also include the smoked tea Lapsang Souchong, the leaves of which are dried over burning pine logs and cones.
Puerh – is post-fermented tea that has undergone pit storing (additional fermentation in wet pits). It seems that pu-erh has co-opted all the richness of the aromas of the earth that bred it: from rotten autumn leaves and wood, to nuts and dry fruits. The taste of pu-erh is unusual; but once you taste it, you can’t help but fall in love with it. Pu-erhs are also quite beneficial for your health — it is the No. 1 tea for losing weight.
Moreover, we should separately mention Flavored tea. Many tea categories successfully combine with natural flavorings, such us flower petals. In the iTea collection flavored teas are represented by the varieties “MoLi” and “Flower” — wrapped into pods or bound into buds, the green tea has absorbed the fine aroma of young jasmine petals during the roasting process.
So, white and green teas can certainly be called the healthiest. Due to preserving the maximum of ingredients most valuable for a human, these teas are perfect for a healthy lifestyle. They are also highly valued for their sweetish flavor and delicate aroma. Mature red and black teas are famous for the intensity of their aroma, deep and rich flavor and intense color. Those are the best teas for gourmands — their therapeutic properties contribute to digestion and their flavor merits nicely accentuate even most exquisite meals. Aromatic oolong harmoniously combines the freshness of green tea with the depth and richness of red tea — it is like all the jewels of the tea world placed into one box.