Said to be the most popular drink in the world, tea has played a part in civilization since the beginning. For many of us, nothing hits the spot like a cup’a tea. All tea lovers have that special, favourite steep… at least until their new favourite is discovered. The enormous diversity in tea accounts for it being prevalent around the world. Whether you love a strong Earl Grey, a creamy matcha, or rich oolong infusion bursting with flavour, there is no end to choices when it comes to tea.
But did you know that black, green, white, and oolong teas all originate from the same plant?
That plant is called Camellia Sinensis. From the picking of the leaves to their steeping, the treatment of the Camellia Sinensis leaves determines the type of tea those leaves will become.
Let’s take a closer look at this versatile Camellia Sinensis plant, and the different sorts of tea that stem from its leaves.
Black Tea makes up a whopping 75% of the world’s tea consumption. Stronger in taste and caffeine ratio, black tea also has a few health benefits. Some of those include the presence of antioxidants, the lowering of inflammation and cholesterol, and the decreased risk of diabetes and obesity. Not too shabby if you’re looking for a healthier caffeine fix!
Tea leaves are hand-picked then withered, allowing the moisture to quit the leaves so they’re in prime condition to be processed. The duration of time the fresh green leaves are exposed to the air is known as oxidization. To turn the leaves black they must be fully oxidized, meaning they are exposed for the maximum amount of time. This prolonged oxidization ensures the largest possible amount of caffeine. In fact, one cup of black tea can have up to 50mg of caffeine (twice the amount found in most green teas).
After full oxidization, the tea leaves are then fired to dehydrate before manufacturing and distribution. This time-honored process yielding black tea from Camellia Sinensis is similar to the fabrication of green tea.
Green tea, well known for its healthy reputation, holds runner-up as the second most popular tea in the world. Green tea differs from black tea in that green tea leaves experience no oxidization. After picking, the leaves are immediately fired, protecting them from increased air exposure. The prompt firing of the leaves results in the nutrients staying captured in the leaf, rather than diminishing when subjected to oxidization.
The approximate caffeine content in a cup of green tea is 25 mg. Having been studied for a connection to the prevention of cancer, the ability to aid in weight loss and prevent obesity is one of the most marketed benefits of green tea. For centuries, the advantages that come with drinking green tea have been celebrated in China, India and parts of Europe. Widespread enthusiasm for green tea is more recent in North America, but tea lovers are discovering lots of reasons to appreciate a beautiful steep of green tea.
White Tea is fashioned from young Camellia Sinensis leaves and buds, producing a delicate taste with naturally low caffeine levels (approximately 15-20 mg of caffeine per cup). Why call it white tea? This name is due to the white fuzz that grows on the baby leaves early in the season. These most delicate leaves are specially selected for the making of white tea. If you’ve ever brewed a loose leaf of white tea yourself, you may have noticed a particular dustiness to the blend, and that is from the fuzz that has been dried on the leaves.
White tea is expensive compared to its sister teas, however it has the super-power of giving an extensive variety of flavours. The processing of white tea leaves can make the difference in whether they display a woody or fruity distinction.
White tea is also a shining choice when feeling under the weather, thanks to its healthy benefits of immunity boosting, helping you fight disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Oolong Tea wins last place in popularity, at 2% of the world’s tea consumption, despite its refreshing flavour and specific health benefits. The leaves issue from the same Camellia Sinensis plant and are picked at equal maturity as black and green tea leaves. The difference comes in at how long they oxidize, which is somewhere in between the oxidization timing for green and black tea leaves.
Although black, green, white and oolong tea all start with the same plant, the array of flavours, potency, and potential is immeasurable!
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