WHITE, GREEN, OOLONG... WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
DID YOU KNOW? All tea comes from one plant, the Camellia Senesis. How the leaves are processed after picking determines what category of tea it falls into. Let's talk a little about each group.
White teas, generally comprised of the young, top buds of the tea plant, undergo minimal processing - they are simply picked and withered in the sun. White teas are up for experimentation when making a pot: using a hotter water generally brings out a brighter, bolder cup, whereas a cooler water tends to produce a mild, distinctly floral aroma and flavor. It's easy to identify with white teas: they're rare, sometimes misunderstood, mellow yet complex... yes, it's like looking right into your soul.
Most green teas come from China and Japan - of which there are over 1,500 different varieties! Two common types are those that are steamed vs pan fired. Steamed greens, like Japanese Senchas, tend to become astringent in too hot of water. Pan fired Greens, like the iconic Chinese Dragon's Well, thrive in A little hotter water. green teas can take on a range of tasting notes from mildly vegetal to smooth and nutty to straight up grass being spit out of a lawn mower.
Oolong in Mandarin translates to wulong which translates to black dragon which translates to freaking awesome. Anyway. Oolongs are a category of tea found right in-between greens and blacks on the oxidization scale. they can be steeped multiple times, because after a partial oxidation they are twisted or rolled. each time you steep your oolong tea the leaves continue to unfurl, leaving you with a similar but decidedly different complex cup.
The Chinese refer to black teas as red teas because of the color of liquor they produce. An error in translation has had Westerners referring to the wrong color ever since. Haha, oops. black teas are highly oxidized and thus take a hotter water and longer steeping time to bring out their bold, robust flavors. However, they generally do not resteep well because of these same facts. With notes ranging from nutty, malty, stonefruit, tobacco, earthy, molasses, hops, chocolate and more... no wonder it's currently the most popular tea type in the US of A.
Chai is bold and beautiful. Did you know that the word chai in India means 'tea' so when we say 'chai tea' we're actually being pretty redundant. doesn't stop us though! anyway, chai is usually comprised of a bold black tea like assam and blended with a multitude of spices. think ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, clove... and traditionally steeped in a combination of water, milk and sugar.
Puerh's (pronounced Poo-ar) defining characteristic is that it's fermented, not simply oxidized like all other tea. Hailing from the Yunnan Province of China, These aged teas tend to take on a rich, earthy aroma and flavor.There are two types of puerh: Raw (Sheng) and Ripe (Shou), the former being aged for years, and the latter given a faster aging process which can be completed in just months. Puerhs can be loose or shaped into squares, nests or bricks (which, fun fact, used to be used as currency).
Tisanes (a French word meaning herbal infusion) are concoctions of plants, herbs, flowers and spices to create a tea-like drink that's packed with flavor. naturally caffeine free because they in fact contain no actual tea. a perfect night time ritual.