In the world of tea, there are countless varieties, flavors, blends, and production methods. The type of tea you prefer and how you like to drink it can be as individual as your taste in music or fashion. But did you know that the average person only knows about 20% of what there is to know about teas? Check out these 5 things you probably don’t know about teas but should.
The teas you drink every day are processed leaves from the same Camellia Sinensis plant.
Green tea is oxidized, or fermented when it’s steamed and dried. White teas are only made from the youngest buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant, so they have a very distinct flavor. Black teas are oxidized and fermented, which gives them their dark color. Oolong teas are partially oxidized and partially fermented. Pu-erh teas are fermented the longest, giving them their unique, earthy flavor.
Different types of tea have different quantities of key amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Some also contain caffeine.
Oolong tea contains the most amino acids, followed by green, black, pu-erh and white tea. Amino acids give you energy and are responsible for improving mood, cognitive function and the nervous system. All teas contain varying amounts of vitamins and minerals. White tea has the most vitamin B, vitamin C and magnesium, followed by green, oolong and black teas. Vitamin B is essential for your metabolism and a healthy immune system, while vitamin C fights infections. Both oolong and black teas contain caffeine in significant amounts, while green and white teas do not.
White and green teas are both produced with very few steps, contrary to oolong, black and pu-erh teas.
Oolong and pu-erh teas are both fermented, which adds a distinct flavor, increases health benefits and gives them a darker color. Oolong teas are partially oxidized, making them light brown. Pu-erhs are fermented for a very long time, giving a unique flavor and rich brown color. Unlike all of those teas, white and green teas are not oxidized or fermented in any way and are the most basic teas.
Black, oolong and pu-erh teas all require fermentation to produce their unique flavor profiles.
Fermentation is a natural and necessary process that involves bacteria, yeast and fungi. For these types of teas to taste the way they do, an environment has to be created where these microbes can thrive. Fermentation allows microbes to eat the natural sugars in the tea leaves to create new compounds, including umami, which gives teas their distinct taste.
Finally, iced teas are just hot tea that is chilled before serving for additional refreshment on a hot day.
Cold-brewing tea is a very simple process: You put the tea leaves in water, let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, then strain it and add whatever you want to it. Iced teas are just hot teas that are chilled before serving, so they have the same amount of caffeine as hot teas. So there you have it: five things you probably don’t know about teas but should! If you’re a tea aficionado who already knows all of this, then congratulations! If you’re still learning about the world of teas, don’t worry — there’s always more to learn! Keep reading, tasting and discovering new teas.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out www.michiganteas.com and grab some white teas and enjoy a cup with me! Remember, “Tea is more than just a beverage, It’s an experience!”
-Photos by Melissa Plendory, Mixing Tea newsletter.