The Family Of Teas
True teas are made from the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis.
Lightly oxidized. Harvested leaves are placed in the sun to wither on rounded bamboo trays. Eventually the fresh leaves are dried and then hand sorted for stalks and impurities.
Covered. Harvested leaves are quickly steamed to denature their enzymes, then covered to allow the aromas of the heated leaves to be re-absorbed into the leaves themselves.
Unoxidized. Chinese greens are gently pan-fried to stop their oxidation process while fresh leaves are quickly steamed in Japan.
Semi-oxidized. The harvest of oolong teas ranges from 15%-70% oxidation. Fresh leaves may be roasted over open fire, tumble dried to bring out floral qualities or baked in bamboo baskets.
Fully oxidized. Fresh leaves are gently rolled and placed on flat screens to wither. A deep enzymatic oxidation of the freed polyphenols brings out caramel and tannic flavors. The leaves are then quickly dried at high heat.
Oxidized, fermented, and aged. Damp leaves are placed in the hot sun to wither in the manner of a green or black tea. They are then pile fermented and aged in either dry or humidity-controlled conditions for a time ranging from 4 months to many years.
Not a true tea, herbal teas (or tisanes) are made from plants other than Camellia Sinensis and are therefore generally free of Caffeine. Usually herbs, roots, and flowers with beneficial qualities and enticing aromas are chosen.