Tea Processing Methods
All pure leaf tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. The differences between teas lie in their processing methods, handcrafted preparations, and the altitude, soil and micro-climate where they are grown.
Black Tea: First, the newly plucked leaves are laid out on racks to dry and wither, slowly losing moisture until their essential character is deeply concentrated. The withered leaves are rolled and twisted, liberating the juices, and then left to ferment (oxidize), a process that gives the leaves their rich color and flavor. Finally, they are heat-dried to arrest oxidation and preserve the tea at the height of its quality.
Oolong Tea: A process of semi-oxidation places Oolong tea midway between green and black tea, with a graceful balance that preserves a hint of the bright, grassy-floral quality found in green tea, yet retains the medium bodied, deeper-toned character of a black tea. Typically, Oolongs are processed very delicately to create this subtle balance: The leaves are wilted, bruised slightly, then tumbled and dried until the desired level of oxidation is achieved.
Green Tea: The freshly plucked leaves and buds forego the withering/oxidization (fermentation) treatment typically used in the development of black tea. Instead, they are lightly scalded or steamed to prevent fermentation and immediately rolled and dried to preserve their delicate color and fresh, light flavor .
Flowering Tea: Flowering teas are handcrafted by artisans who hand-sew individual tea leaves together into rosette-shaped bundles that reveal their true beauty when they unfurl in the cup. Although expensive in the way of all true fine craftsmanship, the individual tea flowers can be re-used several times.
White Tea: Like green tea, white tea undergoes no fermentation (oxidization) and is thus preserved in its most natural state. The leaves are picked as terminal buds, before they are fully open and are typically covered with a downy, white fur, which gives white tea its appearance. A higher concentration of antioxidant-rich polyphenols are present in the terminal buds of the tea plant, contributing to the health benefits of white tea.
Herbal Blends: Herbal blends, also known as "tisanes," contain no tea leaves ( camellia sinensis ) and are derived from one or more of the following sources: herbs, roots, spices, fruit, and flowers. Most herbal blends are caffeine-free unless there has been a specified use of an herbal stimulant (such as guarana).