What’s Your Cup of Tea?
How you make your tea has as much to do with the flavor and overall experience of the tea as the variety of tea you start with. And since this is “Tea Week” at Green-Lemonade, we wanted to start by giving a brief introduction to the most common varieties of tea and the best way to brew each.
Tea is a product of the Camellia sinensis plant and the variety of tea is determined by the level of processing it undergoes as described below. The most common varieties of tea, as outlined below, include black, green, oolong, white and herbal, but keep in mind that there are a number of different blends within each variety as well.
And before you brew your perfect cup, it’s important to note that while sometimes less convenient and more expensive, loose leaf tea is usually more flavorful and fresh than the bagged variety found in boxes at the grocery. Investing in a nice tea infuser, brew basket, or some paper filters will get you on your way to making the most of your tea.
Common Varieties of Tea:
Black Tea – Black tea requires the most processing, undergoing a full oxidation process that produces stronger more robust tea with the most caffeine content of all varieties. Some of the most common blends of black tea that you may have already tried include Earl Grey and English Breakfast. Black tea should be brewed using freshly boiled water (212 degrees) and steeped for 3-4 minutes.
Green Tea – Green tea known for its health benefits because of its high concentration of antioxidant power in the form of polyphenols. More delicate than black, green tea is dried, not “fermented,” and is often described as having a light, green, or even slightly grassy taste. Because of it’s delicate nature, when brewing green tea it’s important to note that the water should not reach a full boil (around 180 degrees) and it should only be steeped for about 1-2 minutes. For more scientific information about green tea check out this article.
Oolong Tea – Oolong tea falls somewhere in-between black and green teas on the oxidation scale. Oolong tea should be brewed using water heated to just below boiling and steeped for 2-3 minutes.
White Tea – White tea is the least processed of all tea. For white tea, the tea buds are plucked very early and then dried. This tea is therefore the most delicate and has a much lighter, slightly sweet, flavor without the “grassy” undertones of green tea. White tea should be brewed with water with a temperature at just below boiling and should be steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Herbal Tea – Not necessarily a true “tea” as I’ve listed here, herbal tea does not come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Herbal tea is the result of an herbal infusion created by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried flowers, dried fruit or herbs and letting it steep for 5-7 minutes. As you can imagine, there are countless blends of herbal teas, check out this list or make your own.