The Many Teas Of China
You may be familiar with the Chinese saying, “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” Even though tea is listed last, it is still obvious how important the tea is for the Chinese.
Thousands of Chinese tea varieties exist. These are usually classified by processing, quality, preparation methods, and so on. However, when considering tea in terms of quality, there are in fact eight classes of Chinese tea. These consist of black tea, green, white, oolong, yellow, red, flower, and compressed tea.
Let’s examine at these classes one by one.
The Chinese black tea creates a full-bodied amber when brewed. Also, this type of Chinese tea undergoes withering, left to ferment for a substantial time, and then roasted. The leaves of this variety become thoroughly oxidized after processing.
Green tea is considered the most natural type of Chinese tea. It is usually picked, naturally dried and fried briefly to rid it of its grassy aroma. Unlike the other types, green tea is not put through the fermentation process.
According to some experts, green tea has the highest medicinal value and the lowest caffeine content of all Chinese tea varieties. The aroma of this type of Chinese tea range from medium to high, and the flavor is usually classified as light to medium. Today, about 50 percent of China’s tea is green tea.
This variety of Chinese tea is often considered as a subclass of green tea. It may be due to the fact that it is only withered and then roasted. Much like green tea, white tea evaded the fermentation process. Also, it is low in caffeine.
This variety of Chinese tea is halfway between green tea and black tea in the sense that it is partially fermented. The Chinese also call it “Qing Cha” and its typical leaves are green in the middle with red on the edges as an effect of the process to soften the tea leaves.
Oolong tea leaves are essentially withered and spread before undergoing a brief fermentation process. Then, the leaves are fried, rolled, and roasted.
As one may guess, yellow tea has yellow leaves and a yellow tea color. According to some tea experts, this type of Chinese tea is a rare class of Chinese tea. The flavor of yellow tea is typically mild and refreshing.
Much like the name suggests, this type of Chinese tea has red leaves and red tea color. This color is strongly activated during the fermentation process. Red tea is classified as having a low aroma and medium flavor and is now divided into three subclasses: Small Species Red Tea, Ted Tea Bits, and Kung Fu Red Tea.
The flower tea is a unique type of Chinese tea. It divides into flower tea and scented tea. The flower tea is based on a simple concept that dried flowers are used, with little processing, to make tea. The scented tea, in contrast, uses green tea and red tea as a base and mixes with a scent of flowers. In general, this category has light to medium flavor and medium to strong aroma.
Compressed tea is the final type of Chinese tea. This class uses black tea as its base. It is then steamed and compressed into cakes, columns, bricks, and other various shapes. Compressed tea has all the traits of black tea. It can be stored for years or even decades.
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