How To Choose Your Chinese Tea
There are many different types of teas to choose from that are offered on the market today. Some consumers purchase tea based solely on it's flavor profile, while others are searching for some kind of healing property that will either improve their health or help a certain ailment. When buying tea online it is important to understand the terminology used when describing certain types of teas and how they are made. For instance, many novice tea drinkers will expect their tea to be in a bag or pouch but this is only one of the ways that it is sold. By understanding the many different terms regarding each type of tea that is being sold, the consumer will have a better understanding how that particular tea was grown, handled, and made as well as the price ranges.
Forms Of Chinese Tea
The most common type is the tea pouch which is what many find in the supermarket. Normally this is the least potent of teas, however there are some companies that do produce a substantial product. In fact bagged tea is the least desired types to buy for the experienced tea drinker. This type of product is usually manufactured by a machine and it's potency has been reduced due to the process of breaking down the leaves to a powder. The flavors are minimal as the potency of any kind medicinal aid. Loose leaf tea is presumed to be the second most common type of tea. A first time buyer will notice the difference in the aroma of loose leaf tea and bagged tea.
Loose leaf shares similar properties as ground coffee such as the robust aromas and the pungent flavors. The tea brick or cake is the most ancient forms of tea and the most pungent and flavorful due to the long fermentation process it under goes, some Pu-erh cakes are aged for 15 years. Only the highly skilled tea producers will make this ancient form due to it's complexity. The skilled producers will gather whole tea leaves and compress them into the molds that are then aged. The most common form available for retail is a small dome shape designed for an individual cup of tea. Although tea bricks are less common today, consumers will recognize this type mainly by the term Pu-erh. Black, green, and post fermented teas are main types found available today and the brick or cake form can be used for beverages or eaten as a food.
Types Of Teas And Their Health Benefits
Anyone new to Chinese tea may find all the selections confusing as well as the different reports regarding tea's health benefits, such as can tea really cure cancer or reduce stress? Camellia sinensis is the species of plant that all teas in China are made from and the differences come from the processing and the amount of fermentation the leaves under go if any at all. This is what determines white, green, black and so on. When a consumer is searching for an herbal tea they should take note that this type of tea is not technically a tea at all, instead they come from different plant sources and do not contain any leaves from the camellia plant. However, herbal teas or rooibos teas do offer many health benefits as well.
Black tea is the most common type of tea found in the masses and many consumers will mainly identify to this type of tea. This can be found in supermarkets and is ideally sold as rose or red tea blend. The majority of tea drinkers will make the ever popular sun tea from this type. Black tea has a dark earthy tone and is a popular alternative to drinking coffee, containing about one-third of the caffeine when compared to a regular cup of coffee. Other names of teas that fall in the black category are earl grey, breakfast tea, morning thunder, etc., all these names are reference to the full fermentation of black tea along with other flavors in the blend. When drank on a daily basis, black tea can reduce the risk of a stoke and reduce the "bad" cholesterol levels that can lead to a heart attack. It can also aid as at tool for weight loss but the most significant research that was found was how this type of tea increases blood flow to the brain helping mental alertness. Use as an astringent for oily skin as it helps reduce common break outs of pimples on the face and body.
White tea is light in taste and contains the least amount of caffeine. White tea is known for it's healthy dose of anti-oxidants and improving the skin's complexion. There are many high end skin care companies that market their best products because of them containing white tea. Anti-oxidants have been associated with the prevention of certain types of cancers as well as it's anti-aging properties.
It is similar to the process of making green tea, yet tastes white tea. It is also known a as a higher quality tea and it gets the name from how the leaves are partially dried to yellow-green. It has a less grassy flavor than green tea and drinkers will note the subtle flowery and sweet aroma. There has not been much research done on it's health benefits, however since it is harvested from very young leaves, it is presumed that anti-oxidants found in the yellow tea are more potent. So if yellow tea is available for purchase, this may help regulate the blood sugar levels, mental alertness, and cardiovascular function.
Green tea is considered one of the finest teas in Asian countries especially for how it is processed. The leaves are primarily picked the first of the spring from the sweetest and newest buds of the plant. Green tea is not fermented which lends this tea it's sweet floral tones. This slimming tea helps maintain cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range, are good for skin and teeth, and can be used as part of your diet to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. In Chinese medicine it is known for it's cooling effect on inflammation.
Also known as wulong or black dragon tea. Oolong tea is considered one of the more complicated teas to produce on the market. It requires skill and many years of experience of making this type of tea in order to orchestrate the enormous range of flavors, aromas, and colors. The fermentation greatly ranges when making this tea and those who are familiar with oolong tea will agree. Oolong tea is popularly known for it's detox characteristics, curing a headache, and aiding indigestion primarily after a greasy or fatty meal. In the West, it has gotten notable recognition for it's weight suppressant abilities as well as helping the respiratory system.
The process of making post-fermented tea is much like crafting an aged wine. The tea is fermented in two different stages, once to dry out the leaves and a second time to age the fermented leaves further. By doing this the flavor profile results in a smooth taste and rich dark color.
Researches are finding that by doubling the fermentation process, this tea can produce powerful phytochemicals, or chemicals that are found in plants that can have an impact to certain diseases and conditions like cancer, arthritis, cholesterol levels, and stabilizing metabolism. In China, post-fermented tea is considered as a medicinal aid due to it's incredible healthy attributes.
East Versus West
The East has been utilizing teas as a form of medicine for centuries and they believe in the art of prevention rather than prolonged cures. In the West, we tend to break a whole down into smaller parts and then isolate certain nutrients that are then synthesized and market the extracted result. If this sounds complicated, it should because in the end, breaking apart the whole of a natural remedy it's purpose or potency also breaks down. The side effects of new age medicine has impacted the health risks more rather than actually treating the issue. So the West has leaned on the ancient Eastern methods of healing in the hopes of creating a more efficient end result. In the study of modern science in the Western world, researchers have begun taking a closer look inside the healing effects of the different types of teas. They now believe that certain kinds of teas and tinctures of the tea plants actually promote healthier lifestyles as well as prevent many common ailments that prescriptions drugs are failing at.
Drinking tea is a true form of art. As the producers of fine tea take great passion in their products, so should the consumer when they purchase and store their tea. For beginners who are just learning about the basic types of tea it is best to try the whole tea products first, then as your palette progresses, venture onto the more complex flavor profiles of the Oolongs and so on. The best teas are the ones you like drinking most and by trying new blends and different types of tea will only enhance the overall joy of the journey to incredible flavors.