Culture

It’s tea time

Mar 27, 2014

Even though tea is  known to be a favorite of the British, it has been an essential part of many oriental cultures for centuries. The benefits of tea on health and beauty are numerous, which is why at Senteurs d’Orient, we offer a selection of tea-based products. There are as many different types of tea as there are different types of connoisseurs. Green, white, black, lapsang, oolong… What sets them appart? What are the particularities between each type? Here are some of the best-known teas and their benefits, as described by The Tea Spot:


Pu’erh

Pu’erh teas are aged and fermented. These aged teas are revered throughout Asia for their medicinal benefits, which range from curing hangovers to reducing cholesterol.

This is a naturally fermented tea and if stored properly, the older the tea, the better the flavor. Pu’erh tea is very smooth in taste, and can be even darker than black tea. Pu’erh tea can be kept for a very long time if stored properly, the longer you keep it the better it tastes and the higher its quality becomes. Very Black teas contain about 60–70 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup. Preparation of Pu’erh requires pure water at boiling point.

Health Benefits: This is an ideal health drink. It can cut through grease and cholesterol, help digestion, warm you, help produce saliva and shake thirst, dispel the effects of alcohol, and refresh one’s mind. Pu’erh tea has also been shown to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the body.

Origins: Grown exclusively in and around the county of Pu’erh in Yunnan Province, China, the leaves are mildly sweet, with an aroma reminiscent of autumn leaves.


Black

Black teas are fully oxidized teas. Black teas brew a liquor from dark brown to reddish brown. They are the most popular type of tea in the Western world. Black teas range from 40 – 60 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup.

Preparation of black teas requires pure water at boiling point (212°F).

Origins: Traditionally from China, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Black Teas from China are divided into two main categories: Northern Chinese (Keemun teas from Anhui province and similar teas such as Golden Monkey) and Southern Chinese, which are the black teas from the Yunnan province. Many teas from China often have poetic names that don’t give any information about the type of tea or the region that it came from, such as Cloud Mist and Fairy Branch.

There are three major tea-producing areas in India: Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri. Black teas are also available from Sikkim, an area bordering Darjeeling.

Ceylon teas come from the island nation now called Sri Lanka. Other loose-leaf black tea producing countries include: Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, Kenya and Australia.


Oolong

Oolong teas are semi–oxidized, which places them mid–way between green and black teas. This gives them the body and complexity of a black tea, with the brightness and freshness of a green tea.

The caffeine content and antioxidant level is also mid–way between that of green and black teas, making them most healthy and palatable. A very favorite and desired tea amongst connoisseurs, all oolongs hail from either China or Taiwan.

Preparation of oolong teas requires pure water at 190–205° F. They may be infused multiple (3–7) times, each steep lasting 1–3 minutes. The caffeine content of oolong teas decreases dramatically from the first to the third brew, about 30–50 mg/cup in first cup, 15–25 in second, and 5–10 in third.

Origins: From lightly oxidized to dark roasted, oolongs can be fragrantly floral to lusciously rich. A special category of minimally oxidized oolong leaves ranges from 6–12% and is known as pouchongs. Taiwan is famous for its many wonderful oolong teas, and deservedly so. Their teas are often named after the particular mountain on which they’re grown. In China, Ti Quan Yin (“Iron Goddess of Mercy”) is one of the most famous oolong teas whose characteristic flavor is produced in the charcoal firing of the leaves. Ti Quan Yin is a variety of tea plant that produces Ti Quan Yin oolong, and was discovered in the Anxi province of China. Other well–known Chinese oolongs include Huang Jin Gui and Bai Hao.


Green

Green tea leaves plucked in the morning are ready to be brewed in a pot the same night. The bypass of oxidation allows green tea to retain most of its natural dark green color, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll and minerals. The taste of green tea is therefore more astringent and subtler than oolong or black tea.

The lack of oxidation is also responsible for the very low caffeine content of green tea (only 1%). Its caffeine effect produces a nearly steady, mild high with no big peaks or plunges. Green tea is therefore the perfect meditative aid: it acts as a mild stimulant, without causing insomnia or nervousness. It refreshes and quiets.

The names of Chinese green teas denote leaf styles and often make reference to the region where the tea is from. The names of Japanese green teas generally end in “cha” (meaning tea). Preparation of green teas requires pure water at 160–190° F. Chinese green teas contain about 30–35 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup, and Japanese green teas contain 25 – 30 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup.

Origins: Traditionally from China and Japan. Chinese green teas include such classics as Lung Ching and Gunpowder, as well as Pi Lo Chun (Green Spring Spiral) and Yunwu (Cloud-and-Mist). Japan produces only green teas, including Gyokuro, Sencha, Bancha, Hojicha (roasted), Genmaicha (tea with roasted corn and rice), Kukicha (roasted twigs) and Matcha (powdered tea that must be whisked.) Green teas can also be flavored and scented. Jasmine is the most popular scented green tea. Other green tea producing countries now exporting include Thailand, Korea and Vietnam.


White

White teas are the least processed of all teas. They release the least amount of caffeine of all teas, generally ranging from 10-15 milligrams per 8 oz cup. White teas are mostly grown in Fujian Province, China.

White teas are often picked when the buds are tightly enclosed in new leaves. This retains a silky, downy quality in the leaves. When you first drink white tea, it seems quite tasteless – as if you were drinking hot water. However, after a while, you’ll become aware of a subtle change in your breath and at the back of your mouth. You will taste a soft, nourishing sweetness and eventually experience a similar sensation down your throat.

Preparation of white teas requires pure water at 150 – 170°F.

Origins: With flavors that are close to the heart of the tea plant, they were the favorite of the famous ’Tea Emperor’ in the 1100’s who was so preoccupied with his love of tea and his pursuit of the perfect cup, that he lost his empire to invading Mongols. White teas have since traditionally been used as a Tribute Tea to the Chinese Emperor. Long popular in China, they are just becoming well-known in America. Recent claims that white tea has less caffeine than green tea are often debatable. Caffeine content is sometimes more dependent on the part of the plant used, rather than on process.


Rooibos

Rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea indigenous to South Africa, also known as red bush tea. Its naturally sweet flavor, lack of bitter tannins, and naturally decaf nature makes it a great tea for the whole family.

It makes a great kids tea, pregnancy tea, tea for lactating moms, and a hydrating tea for all of us that want an antioxidant rich tea without the caffeine jitters. Medical research has suggested numerous health benefits of rooibos including anti-cancer properties, particularly in decreased risk of skin cancer.

Read on if you would like to learn more!