There are many different types of tea in the world, but they all came from a species of evergreen tree called Camellia Sinensis, also known as the “tea plant”. Taiwan’s tea plants usually grow in the mountainous regions with their cool and misty climates.
All the tea we see are the products of different fermentation to attain varying levels of oxidation. Through fermentation, the original rich deep green leaves become reddish-brown. The longer the fermentation, the darker the color is.
There are six main types of teas:
Green tea: it has no fermentation, and is quite similar to modern Japanese sencha 煎茶. Green tea has different shapes, such as flat, curled, or fine twists.
Yellow tea: the tea color changes while steaming the green leaves and becomes yellow tea, and only a small quantity is produced.
White tea: produced mostly in the Fujian province of China; it is the least processed tea but has a slight natural oxidation.
Oolong tea: produced mainly in the Fujian province of China and Taiwan; the process is quite complicated and time consuming. There are light fermented, semi-fermented and heavy fermented Oolong. Light fermented Oolong has smaller, shiny, deep-green pellet shapes while heavily fermented Oolong has long, dark, and twisted shapes.
Puer tea: this is considered post-fermentation tea, and it has many health benefits, such as probiotic properties, which aid the digestive system. Most of the Puer tea is shaped like a brick and aged for many years. In Taiwan, you can see raw Puer in the market, which ages naturally and does not go through the fermentation process.
The Art of Making Tea Read the following instructions on how to properly make a cup of Chinese tea and see the video below for a demonstration.
Bring freshly drawn cold tap water, or filtered water, to a bubbling boil.
Pour the hot water in and over the teacup and/or teapot to warm it.
Fill the teapot to 1/4 of the teapot if is Oolong; if it is Green tea then you should fill to around 1/5 of the teapot.
For Oolong tea, pour the boiling water at a temperature of 212℉. If you are drinking Green tea, let the boiling water cool down to 177℉ before you pour.
Pour the hot (but not boiling) water over the tea in the teapot. Let it stand for one minute. This is the first infusion. Pour out the first infusion immediately. Let the second infusion stand about one minute. Extend the time for one-minute following each infusion. If you prefer stronger tea, let it stand 3-5 minutes.
If using a teacup, let the tea steep for three minutes. Skip steps No.7 - No.8 if using a teacup only.
Put the teacups in a bowl, warming the cups with hot water.
After infusion, rotate the teapot along the edges of the bowl or use a towel to remove the water from the bottom of the teapot, then pour the tea into the tea vessel or back and forth between two teacups.
If using two teacups, pour the tea into the narrow teacup first, observe the color, smell the aroma, then put the rounder cup on top of the narrow cup, turn it over, and drink from the rounder cup.
Smell the empty narrow cup.
** If it is just for your daily intake, you can omit No. 9 and No. 10**
The Art of Drinking Tea Temperature of the Water: Bring freshly drawn cold tap water, or filtered water, to a bubbling boil. Move it off the stove and set it aside for a few seconds. Pour the hot water in and over the teacup and/or teapot to warm it. For Green tea, it is better to let it cool down to 177℉; for Oolong tea, it is be best to bring it to the the boiling point of 212℉.
Amount of tea: Use approximately one teaspoon of tea per 5 ½ ounce cup, depending on personal preference. You can use more leaves for stronger tea. To allow the leaves maximum expansion, fill a smaller teapot only half full of tea, fill larger pots up to one third full of tea.
Time: As discussed above, pour the hot (but not boiling) water over the tea. This first infusion is a “moist infusion”, it allows the tea to expand but it tastes a little bitter. Most of the tea drinkers do not drink it, and just pour it out immediately. Let the second infusion stand about one minute, extending the time one-minute more for each following infusion. If using a cup, let the tea stand for three minutes. Use time, not the color your tea, to gauge when the tea is ready - a lightly colored tea can still be very strong.
Tasting: Put the teacups in a bowl; warming the cups with hot water. After infusing the tea, rotate the teapot along the edges of the bowl, (or use a towel) to remove the water on the bottom of the teapot. To serve tea, you may pour the tea into a tea vessel (like a creamer), let the leaves settle, and then serve; or you may pour the tea back and forth among the cups to insure the same strength among the cups. Observe the color of the liquor, smell the aroma before you drink it, and smell the empty cup after you drink it. About every 10cc, inhale the smell of the tea and slosh the liquor around in your mouth. Let the tea make contact with your palate, and inhale its aroma through your nasal passages. When drinking tea, savor the time, let the act of drinking the tea gently demonstrate the feeling of each molecule and the vastness of infinity.
Health Benefits In ancient China, tea was used as a medicine to purge poisons from a patient’s system. It was not until the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) when Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea, that tea became a popular social drink. In The Classic of Tea, Lu Yu also mentioned tea as an effective treatment for many chronic diseases.
Tea Talks (茶譚) by Chang Qing (張慶) broke down the compounds in tea, indicating it contains Phytochemicals of Carotenoids (beta carotene), Flavonols (putin), and Polyphenols (tea tannis). Polyphenols may act as an antioxidant to prevent disease. These natural substances inhibit esophageal cancer as well as other types of tumors and can lower the risk of heart disease by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract. This also speeds up the metabolism and strengthens the immune system. Tea also contains fluoride, which can strengthen bones, teeth, and enamel.
The light body tea is has about 0% to 15% fermentation, which contains almost all of the Vitamin C, B1, and B12 in the tea. The medium body is about 30% to 50% fermentation, it has half as much caffeine as black tea, and only a quarter as much caffeine as drip coffee. Full body tea is around 75% to 85% fermentation, which is nearly as strong as black tea. *please note: this is not intended to provide medical advice.
Storage Generally speaking, dried loose leaves tend to stay fresh longer, and can be stored up to six months. Store the tea in a cool and dry place, preferably well ventilated. Tea absorbs other odors easily, so it must be kept in an airtight container, a metal box with a double lid is best, or a glass bottle with a tight cover. If the tea gets damp you can spread it out in a baking pan and bake it in the oven at a temperature around 170℉, stir it often, and when you smell the aroma of the tea, you can remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Never drink tea left overnight in the pot. Tea contains about 1% of protein, which will cause mildew overnight.
Never drink tea when taking medications. Tea tannins may increase or decrease the effects of the medicines, such as sleeping pills and pain relievers.
Never drink strong tea on an empty stomach. Except Puer tea. Drinking strong tea on an empty stomach can cause indigestion; drink light tea before eating. After eating, drink stronger tea to help your digestion and to remove the excess fat in your stomach.
*please note: this is not intended to provide medical advice.