Know Your Chinese Teas

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Legend has it that tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2,737 BC when leaves fell into the water he was boiling. Having originated there more than 4,000 years ago, tea has since had a long and illustrious history in China.

When tea was originally discovered, it was used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, but it has since became a recreational and social drink for people all over the world. There are a number of distinct varieties and processing methods for this powerful plant. 

It is important to note that all types of Chinese teas come from the Camellia Sinensis tree. All other varieties of teas that we enjoy in western culture are known as 'Herbal' or 'Botanical' teas and are not strictly speaking considered to be tea in Chinese culture. 

Here is a brief overview of these different types and how they are each processed: 

Green Tea

Green tea is typically made by drying the young, freshly picked tea leaves so as to retain as many of their natural compounds as possible. This gives the tea a light, astringent flavour and makes it rich in antioxidants. 

 

Red Tea

Chinese red tea is commonly referred to black tea in western cultures. To produce red tea, the leaves go through several processes, including, drying, oxidation, and roasting, which gives the tea its signature black colour.

 

White Tea

White tea is indigenous to the Fujan Provice in China. It is typically made from picking the youngest tea leaves and then baking them before lightly rolling and drying.  White tea is lighter in colour than other types of tea with a subtle, delicate flavour.  

Yellow Tea

Yellow tea is produced by allowing damp tea leaves to dry naturally. It has a distinctive aroma, similar to red tea, but its flavour is closer to green and white teas. Yellow tea is also used to describe the high-quality tea that was served to the emperors, as yellow was the traditional imperial colour.

Ooglong Tea

Oolong tea is partly oxidised tea, made from a blend of green and red teas.

Dark Tea

Dark tea (or black tea) undergoes an actual fermentation process aided by bacteria. The whole process comprises six steps: water removing, first-time rolling, heaping, second rolling, baking, and drying.

It is generally acknowledged that dark tea originated in the 16th century in Anhua City, Hunan Province. 

Puerh Tea

Puerh tea, (also called 'puerh' or 'pu-erh') is a type of dark tea that comes from Yunnan province in China. 

Puerh has an ancient history over of 2,000 years. According to Yunnan government's definition, Puer tea must be tea that is made from a large-leaf variety of a plant growing in a defined area, which is then processed into compressed tea or brick tea with a specified technology.

There are two main kinds of puerh tea; raw puer (also called sheng), and ripe puer (also called shou). 

Sheng Puerh

Raw puerh is similar to a strong green tea which is fermented by being stored over a long period of time. As it ages, it slowly transforms from strong 'green' flavours into more smooth, dark and 'aged' flavours; think wood, incense, dark sugar. Certain types of Sheng puerh can become highly valuable as they age. 

Shou Puerh

Ripe puer is made by taking loose raw puer leaves, and fermenting them in a big pile over a period of weeks. The fermentation turns the tea very dark, and also very smooth, removing all bitterness. Ripe puer tends to have earthy, woody, rich flavours and a very smooth, thick texture. 

Shop our collection of teas & teawares. All the teas that we source are high quality and are free from chemicals in their growing and processing. 

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