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Tea Varieties

The way that tea is processed depends on the type of tea being made. Special tea varieties or cultivars have been hybridised over centuries to create specific characteristics that are used to produce particular Tea types. As soon as tea is picked it starts to undergo oxidation, turning from green to brown. This is known as withering. The level of oxidation depends on the type of tea being produced. Other processes include rolling, firing, baking, tossing, mixing, air drying and fixing. All these processes contribute to the unique appearance, aroma and flavours of the finished tea.

White Tea

White Tea is made from young leaves and buds that have undergone little or no oxidation. Most Chinese white tea is consumed locally and is often served with food in southern China. For this reason many in the West believe that White Tea is rare and expensive. Although the finest grades can be costly, good quality White Tea is readily available in China. It can be a very good value choice for your everyday tea.   

Green TeaChinese Green Tea

Green Tea is a lightly-oxidised tea. Oxidation is prevented by applying heat by dry cooking in pans soon after the tea is picked. This tea is processed within one day of harvesting.

Yellow Tea

Yellow Chinese TeaYellow Tea is a rare and expensive tea, similar to Green Tea, with an extra processing step called ‘Men Huang’, which consists of covering the leaves so that they develop a yellow hue.

This was a high-quality ‘tribute tea’ served at the Imperial court, hence, perhaps its name, yellow being the colour of the emperor’s robes.

Jasmine Tea

Yellow Chinese Tea

Jasmine Tea is made by mixing White, Green or even Oolong Tea with the flowers of the Jasmine plant (Jasminum Sambac) to create a light, fragrant Tea that is most commonly drunk with food in Chinese restaurants.The best quality Jasmine Teas are made by infusing high grade White Tea such as Silver Needle (Yin Zhen) with fresh Jasmine blossoms, although cheaper variants are made using Jasmine extract or even artificial flavourings.

Oolong Tea

Dan Cong Oolong Chinese TeaOolong (from Wu Long meaning black dragon) is a semi-oxidised tea somewhere between Green Tea and Black Tea. The oxidation process takes 2 - 3 days. Then the tea is roasted. Oolong tea can be lightly oxidised, such as Pouchong from Taiwan, or heavily fermented, like Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao). Each style has its own characteristics and appeal.

Black TeaBlack Chinese Tea

For Black Tea, the tea leaves are allowed to completely oxidise. The Chinese call it Red Tea because the actual tea liquid is red. Westerners call it Black Tea because the tea leaves used to brew it are usually black.

Puerh Tea

Compressed Puerh Chinese TeaPuerh Tea can be ‘raw’ or ‘cooked’: Raw Puerh (also called Green Puerh or Shen Puerh) is produced from special tea leaves from the Yunnan Da Ye varietal. It is steamed with little or no oxidation at all. The liquor produced by young, raw Puerh can be a little astringent. However, with proper aging, Raw Puerh’s flavor improves greatly and surpasses that of the cooked version.

Cooked Puerh (also called Ripe Puerh, Shou Puerh or Black Puerh) is processed with an extra post-fermentation step which accelerates the aging process in order to imitate the taste and fragrance of an aged Raw Puerh Tea. Cooked Puerh is ready for drinking immediately, although some will benefit from further ageing.