There are only 6 types of tea in the world: white, green, yellow, Oolongblack and the dark teas or post-fermented teas. The differences between each have to do with the methods of manufacture to which their leaves are subjected, but they all come from the same plant: the Camellia sinensis.
Although there is some confusion as to the types of tea that exist, the reality is that only what comes from the plant Camellia sinensis can be called tea.
The rest of the drinks created from the infusion of leaves, flowers or fruits with hot water are, in fact, infusions.
See also Difference between tea and infusion.
1. White tea
It is made from tender shoots of Camellia sinensis. These buds are covered with a thin layer of silvery whitish hairs, hence the name of this type of tea. It is the least processed type of tea, as the shoots only go through a brief process of wilting and drying.
Although white tea is grown in various parts of the world, the most popular varieties are from China, such as Silver Needles (silver needle) and the Pai Mutan o Yes Mudan.
2. Green tea
Along with black tea, it is the most popular type of tea in the world. China and Japan are the main producers.
Green tea goes through a process of dressing, fixing and drying. In this case, oxidation is avoided, which allows it to retain its characteristic green color.
However, it is normal for light browning to occur in some Chinese varieties, in which the oxidation is done in a special wok and they are lightly sautéed over the fire.
Dragonwell is one of the most popular and best quality Chinese varieties on the market.
When green tea is sprayed, it is called a mash.
3. You are yellow
Its manufacturing process is similar to that of green tea. After fixation, the tea is grouped in batches and stored in a humid environment to stimulate the oxidation of chlorophyll, which gives the leaves a yellowish hue. When the desired color is reached, the drying process is stopped.
However, it is a little-known tea on the market, as the process of harvesting and production is artisanal, which makes it a high-priced product.
Some varieties of yellow tea are the Huang Tang, made in Zhejiang Province of China and the Meng Ding Huangyanof Sichuan Province.
4. Te Oolong
This type of tea, whose name means “black dragon” in Chinese, has a complex production process that involves rolling the leaves and long days of wilting.
After wilting, comes the oxidation, which is carried out in two phases: cold, leaving the leaves in bamboo baskets that will spend 24 hours in a refrigerator, and then at room temperature. The fixation is done in wok, with the method of Chinese green teas.
Oolong leaves are characterized by their curl. When the leaves have been rolled up, they are kneaded into machines to proceed to unroll them and start a new cycle of rolling, kneading and unrolling.
When it is determined that the ideal rolling point for this variety of tea has been reached, the leaves are inspected and left to dry in the open air.
This type of tea is also known as “blue tea”, however, the name is incorrect, as neither the threads nor the color of the infusion have such shades.
China and Taiwan are two of the most prestigious Oolong producers in the world. The most popular varieties are From Hong Pao, Tu Kuan Ying (both from China) and the Don Fang Mei Rena Taiwanese Oolong that is characterized by its leaves being bitten by a kind of locust that initiates a process of natural oxidation in tea.
5. Black tea
Along with green tea, it is the most popular type of tea in the world. Its manufacturing process involves wilting, winding and oxidation. When the tea master the factory decides that the leaves have reached the desired brown or dark tone, stopping oxidation.
The most popular varieties of black tea are Darjeeling (India) i English Breakfast (mixture of black teas from Sri Lanka and India).
6. Dark teas
These are the teas that have gone through a fermentation process. Of all these, the best known is the Pu-erhso it is very common for it to be associated with a category of tea in itself.
In this sense, it is important to know that it is only said Pu-erh to a type of tea that is grown and produced in the region of the same name, located in Yunnan Province, China.
The leaves go through a process of wilting and fixation similar to that of green tea. Then comes the curling of the leaves and drying at room temperature to end an exclusive process of this type of tea: fermentation.
In this process, what is sought is the activation of certain bacteria that give this tea very characteristic notes. Fermentation can take a few days, which is usual for more commercial presentations (Pu-erh cooked), while other fermentations can take months or years (Pu-erh crude).
Here, as in the world of wine, the longer the aging of the wine Pu-erhthe greater its value in the market and the more marked will be its organoleptic characteristics.
See also Types of beer.
Tea type processing
In general, tea goes through a series of processes that will depend on the type you want to obtain. The main ones are:
- Marxity: it causes a process of dehydration to make the leaf more malleable, but in addition, internal changes are generated, such as an increase in caffeine concentration and a degradation of chlorophyll, which decreases the aroma a pasture.
- Coiled mayors: The leaves roll to break their internal structure and facilitate oxidation. This process can be manual or with a winding machine.
- Oxidation: The leaves are exposed to the action of oxygen to cause the reaction of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase and antioxidants present in tea. This results in a process of browning or darkening of the leaves, which will stop depending on the type of tea you want to obtain.
- Fixation: oxidation stops with heat, in some cases subjecting the leaves to hot air at 100 degrees.
- Dried: The wires are exposed to room temperature. In black tea, drying is done with fixation.
- Fermentation: a step that is only carried out with the Dark teasand consists of an activation of yeast and bacteria that, depending on the type of tea, can last from a couple of days to years.
Camellia sinensis is the scientific name for the tea tree, a perennial shrub that can grow in tropical or subtropical regions and in the wild can reach 15 meters in height. However, for cultivation and harvesting purposes, it is pruned to 1.5 meters.
The tea tree comes from China, where it has been cultivated for 5000 years and where it was first considered an exclusive drink of the emperors. Many centuries later, its consumption and cultivation not only spread to the rest of the world, but permeated different strata of society.
See also Difference between cocoa and cocoa