All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which has pretty and delicate white flowers and is mostly found in Central and Southeast Asia. This single plant has different varieties, and it is from these varieties that the many varying types of tea are harvested, each one unique in flavour, colour, and aroma, and with the ability to survive in a range of environments.



Where does Tea Have Its ‘Roots’?

Tea was first discovered in China in 2700 BCE as a medicinal drink, derived from boiling fresh leaves in water. It was only in the 3rd century CE, it became a beverage to consume daily, and so began its cultivation and processing in 350 CE. The first consignment of tea taken to Europe was by the Dutch East India Company in 1610, followed by the English East India Company taking tea to London in 1669. Tea growing became ubiquitous in Russian Georgia, Sumatra, and Iran and then in non-Asian countries such as Africa, Brazil, Argentina, South America (Peru) and Australia (Queensland)

It was in 1824 that tea plants were discovered at the foothills along the common borders of Burma and Assam, India. Tea was introduced to India by the British in 1836 and to Sri Lanka in 1867.


Let’s Talk Tea

There are several types of ‘true’ teas – each one has its own unique taste, flavour, colour, and benefits. These varying characteristics can be attributed to the harvesting and processing methods.


  • White Tea

The least processed of all tea varieties, this tea consists of unopened leaves with white hairs. These leaves are left out to wither and dry overnight and during this process of drying air circulates around them. Once they are dried as much as needed, they are then packaged.


  • Green Tea

The process of drying is similar to White tea, but in order for the leaves to retain their green colour, they undergo a de-enzyme process. This is simply a process of heating the leaves to prevent oxidation, followed by ‘firing’ the leaves to remove any excess moisture.



  • Yellow Tea

This too follows a similar process to Green tea (de-enzyme). After this process, the tea leaves are put in piles, under damp cloths, which helps to retain their aroma, while removing the grassy flavour, specific to Green tea. Once the maximum ageing is reached, the leaves are ‘fired’ to prevent further ageing.  


  • Black Tea

This is the most oxidized of all teas. While the initial process is the same, in addition, the leaves are rolled such that individual cells break inside the leaves. After this they are left out to enhance the oxidation process, while the leaves are turned regularly, exposing each leaf to air. This additional oxidation results in the dark and deep colour and robust flavour of black tea.



  • Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is somewhere between Black and Green tea in terms of flavour. The processing is similar to that used for Green and Black teas, however, the leaves are left out for a minimum of eight hours, before being rolled. The greenest leaves are then ‘fired’, while the leaves that have turned dark would be rolled a few more times. Once they reach the required level of oxidation, these leaves are ‘fired’ and dried to be packaged.


  •  Pu-erh Tea

The processing of this tea is similar to that of green tea. The leaves are withered and heated briefly in large pans, after which they undergo two rounds of rolling before being dried. The major difference is the use of fermentation. Fermentation uses external organisms to change the flavour and appearance of the leaf, and this process gives Pu-erh tea its loamy and dark liquor-type flavour. This tea is sold in the form of cakes.

Irrespective of the type of tea one prefers the best thing about tea is that each one offers a unique experience. Tea lovers revel in the gloriousness of this exhilarating beverage, relax in its aura, and savour the distinct tastes of each. What’s more, is that every type of tea comes loaded with health benefits. Tea is not a fad – it is a way of life!



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