Tea comes from the plant whose Latin name is Camellia sinensis. To be fair, the only true “tea” must come from this plant. And this plant is native to Asia where the first tea was discovered. The very first tea was believed to have been drunk in the Chinese province of Yunnan. It was grown and cultivated there and eventually in Sri Lanka and India. Tea did not make its way into the Western world until the 16th century. It was introduced into Europe by the Dutch.
Tea comes in three major forms. All are delicious, but they are all good for something different. And the different varietes of tea come from how they are processed.
Green Tea – Green teas are processed very quickly after harvest. They are either steamed or cooked to keep them from oxidizing too fast. Green teas include matcha, gunpowder, jasmine pearl, Sencha and Genmaicha. Green tea has a moderate amount of caffeine and is very healthy. Matcha is also used a lot in baking.
Black Tea – Black teas are dried by air or sunlight and oxidized the most, making them black. Black teas that you might know of include pu’erh (which is also fermented), lapsang souchong, Earl Grey, Assam and Darjeeling. Chai tea is also made from black tea. These teas contain the most caffeine and are best for a morning pick-me-up and for cooking and baking.
White Tea – White tea is the least processed tea. Often it is the unopened leaf bud or young leaves that are harvested for white tea. Famous white teas include Silver needle and White Peony. Because white teas are so delicate, they are best enjoyed simply as a refreshing and uplifting beverage.
What is your favorite type of tea? If you are looking for some new blends to try, check out my history themed teas!