Tea is the name given to a lot of brew, but real tea is derived from the buds and leaves of an evergreen plant from the Camellia family of plants, the Camellia sinesis, bush, or the Camellia assamica, tree. Climate, soil, altitude, when and how the tea is plucked, processed and stored influence the taste and quality of tea. There are five basic categories of teas: black, oolong, green, white and scented. There are many different varieties within each category. It is the processing method of tea that produces the different types of teas. There are about 3,000 varieties of teas. A few nations produce most of the finest teas available – India, China, Japan, and Sri Lanka. Tea is also grown in Africa and South America.
Types of tea
Green tea is not fermented, but rather steamed as with Japanese style green tea or fired as with Chinese style green tea.
Oolong tea is a semi-fermented. a process that includes withering, bruised by shaking, brief fermenting, panfrying/drying.
Black tea is fully fermented, a process that includes, withering, rolling, fully fermenting, and firing/drying. The methods and varieties differ from region to region.
White Tea -there appears to be a few definitions regarding white tea but most definitions agree the tea is not fermented or rolled, but the leaves are harvested before the buds have fully opened and allowed to dry in natural sun, others include the tea buds and very young leaves which are steamed or fired before dry. A lighter flavor than green, oolong and black teas. The young buds and leaves are still covered by fine white hairs, hence the name, white tea.
Scented teas have the aroma of an additional ingredient, which is added during the final drying stage. Some teas are laid out next to or above a scented item, like a Jasmine or bergamot flower to absorb the scent of the additional ingredient.
Flavored teas have other ingredients added to the tea, such as a fruit or flower, to create a flavor.
Blended teas are a mix of teas, with or without additional ingredients. Some of the most popular blended tea is Irish Breakfast which is typically a blends of different Assam teas or English Breakfast, a blend of Assam, Ceylon or Kenya teas.
Herbal infusions are commonly called tea, because the brewing or steeping process is similar, but only leaves from the Camellia plant family are truly “tea”. Herbal infusions are usually from leaves, flowers, fruit, spices and roots of aromatic or medicinal plants. Such as peppermint, rosehips, and chamomile. The name, often used, for these brews are “tisane.” But “tea” is widely accepted.