Tea 201 – White Tea – Downy Buds

white tea Tea 201   White Tea   Downy Buds

White Tea Leaves

White tea is the youngest harvested buds of the Camellia sinensis plant almost exclusively in the Fujian province of China.  It gets its name from the down white hairs that are found on the leaves.  The liquor itself is the most pale of teas and it is known for its mild taste and fresh scent.

White tea is very delicate.  Because of this fact, you should use filtered water that is brought to a high temperature, but not boiling.  A good rule of thumb (if you don’t have a thermometer to test for 140 to 165ºF) is to bring it to a boil and then let it cool for at least a minute.

White tea was discovered between 960 and 1279 AD during the Song dynasty.  The Chinese discovered that the youngest buds of the tea leaves produced a mild and refreshing taste.  In the beginning, it was tea reserved for the Emperor.  In fact according to legend, the Emperor Hui Zong became so obsessed with this tea that he lost his Empire while in obsessive pursuit of the perfect cup.

White tea went relatively unknown outside of China for years.  The popularity of white tea in the west is only a recent occurrence.  The tea’s popularity grew when health conscious people were finding the health benefits of white teasWhite tea is rare because of the strict rules on harvesting and processing.

There are quite a few varieties of white tea based on several factors.  The Silver Needle is the most sought after.  This tea can only be harvested during a brief window in the early spring right before the tea buds turn into leaves.  Long Life Eyebrow is considered in the lesser member of the white tea variety.  It is harvested after the time period of Silver Needle and White Peony.  Tribute Eyebrow is similar to Long Life but is considered to have a darker appearance.  White Peony is the second highest of quality and is harvested when there is only a bud and two leaves.  Lastly, there is Snowbud which is only harvested when there are only buds and leaves in the early spring.

In the end, you’re going to have to experience them for yourselves in terms of flavor.  If you are interested in potential health benefits here’s a link:

http://www.whitetea.com/benefits-of-white-tea.php

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Tea 201 – Origin – Where Tea is Grown

tea origin by percentage Tea 201   Origin   Where Tea is Grown

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o. Wikipedia.org)

It would not be a proper lesson on tea without sitting down and discussing the origin of tea.  Where is it grown?  More importantly where can it grow?

Let’s start with tea’s origin.  Where did it originally come from?

Originally its natural form was believed to have originated in China.  The most celebrated of teas come from the area of China known as “The Golden Triangle.” This area is found between the mountains of Huang Shan, Mogan Shan, Qi Shan and Tianmu Shan.

In the country of Taiwan, it is well known for its oolong teas.

India has grown in popularity due its Assam teas (which are grown in the Brahmaputra valley) and Darjeeling teas (which is grown in the ex-British hills of the Himalayas).  Darjeeling teas are known as the “Champagne of teas.”

This also spreads into Nepal.  In their side of the Himalayas, they have their own tea that resembles Darjeeling.

Sri Lanka is the source of the famous and fragrant Ceylon tea.  The principle growing regions of this country are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva.

Of course, we can never forget Japan renowned for its green sencha, courser bancha and matcha.

But that’s just the Asian countries.

Tea growing has also made its way to East Africa to the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.   These countries have made a dent in the mark by way of making large quantities of black teas.  However, they have not been able to deliver the same quality of Chinese Yunnan or Indian Darjeeling.

But it does not stop there.  Tea growing has also spread to the Americas to the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and the good old USA.

Tea has spread all over the world and it will continue to do so as it continues to also grow in popularity.

Pretty cool, no?

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Tea 201 – Chinese Black Teas

chinese black Tea 201   Chinese Black Teas

Chinese Black Tea

Black tea, known in China as red tea, is the most common product produced by our favorite Camellia sinensis plant.   It’s the most consume type of tea in the world; however, it is the least popular style in China.  The quality range is also greater than any other tea grown.  It is the Chinese black tea that is known for its highest quality compared to the other mechanically harvested and grown in places like India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

There is a lot of debate among tea scholars as to when black tea was actually invented.  But everyone definitely agrees that tea appeared in the Chinese market by the 16th century.  Obviously for that to happen, the origin of tea production had to have gone back farther.

There are those who argue that black tea was created during the beginning of the Ming Dynasty around 1391.    Tea drinking in general had become accepted in Chinese society but was traded in the form of tightly compressed tea cakes.  These teas were considered worth their weight in gold.  At its peak, the tea trade was very well known for its wealth and corruption.

At the beginning of the Ming dynasty, under the rule of Ming Hong Wu Lian decided to put a halt to the corruption by ordering the end of the production of the tea cakes.  With the production halted, the monasteries that produced tea were stuck with tea and nothing to do with it.   The Wu Yi Shan’s monasteries began attempting to try pan-friend loose leaf green tea.   They were never successful because they could not get the teas to stop oxidizing.  This is typical of black tea.   Thus green tea was created by the time the 16th century rolled around.

Fun history, no?  Are you a fan of black tea, dear readers?

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Tea 201 – Chinese vs Japanese Green Teas

chinese vs japanese greens Tea 201   Chinese vs Japanese Green Teas

Chinese vs Japanese Green Teas

In the beginning there was a plant.  A green plant. Well…Green tea.   Grown in either Japan or China, this plant is harvested the same way but when it comes to the processing, there are differences:

Chinese – these green teas are mainly roasted or oven dried or sometimes steamed.  Other times the methods are combined.  Some examples are Biluochen (roasted then oven), Zhuyeqing (all three methods) or Houkui (simply ovened).

Japanese – is mainly steamed because it allows the tea to maintain its bright green color and more attractive.  There are sometimes that the tea is pan-roasted.

There are also a lot of varieties in the Chinese green teas.  There are about nine different shapes like loose balls (Dragon Pearls), tight balls (Gunpowder), or gently curled (White Monkey Paw).  There are those with flowers and fruits and others have jasmine.  It is also said that Chinese teas are more likely to be hand-processed instead of made in a factory; however that is only speculation.

Japanese green teas only come in two varieties: needles shaped pieces (Sencha and Gyokuro) and powder (Matcha).   There is also a type of green tea (Sencha) that is mixed with roasted rice that is quite popular in Japan.  It is called Genmaicha.  It is said that it goes quite well with stir-fried foods.

There is also the geographic variety between the teas.  In China, green teas are grown in 15 different provinces while Japan is not big enough to have 15 different provinces.

Who would have thought that there would be such a difference in green teas?  Here’s a challenge: the next time you go to buy green tea, try to found out its origin.  Is it Chinese?  Is it Japanese? Then consider and compare the flavors, do you notice a difference?

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Morning Cup #54 – Organic Green Jasmine

MorningCup Morning Cup #54   Organic Green Jasmine

My mug decided on a nice lightly floral Organic Green Jasmine from Hampstead Tea this morning.

This black tea blend has a wonderfully matched black tea with what taste like orange with a hint of pineapple. The aroma contains mostly orange and lemon scents. I think the black tea is a Ceylon, but I have no confirmation of that. Either way, give this one a try.

mc 00054 Morning Cup #54   Organic Green Jasmine

Morning Cup #54

What’s in your cup?

Posted in Bagged Tea, Chinese Tea, Fair Trade, Flavored Tea, Floral Tea, Green Tea, Morning Cup, Organic, Tea, Tea Bags | No Comments »