All of us have different eating and drinking habits. That depends on our culture and the environment in which we are raised and brought up. This eating habit is which charges our body and act as energy boosters in our life. Tea is one of the energy boosters which is being used from ancient times throughout the world. Tea literally opens your eyes, when you are laying back down on your office seat and feeling lethargic.
Let’s talk about tea shall we?
We Indians cannot imagine a life without tea. The time when we get up in the morning, all of us have a refreshing cup of tea. Not just Indians, even Chinese are hardcore tea drinkers and believe that it is the tea that keeps them healthy and strong. If we move to the western part, English can’t imagine a life without a restorative cup of tea.
Well, you won’t even believe this, but tea is one of the only sources of the super- fantastic L-Theanine. What this chemical does is cross the blood brain barrier and gets your alpha waves flowing and keeps you active.
Types of tea
Did you know that all six types of tea come from one plant?
Did you know there were six types of tea?
Yes. White, yellow, green, black, oolong and pu’erh all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant.
The only part of the tea bush used is the top two leaves and the bud. The process of “controlled oxidation” is the key to making thousands of different teas.
White tea is minimally processed and not oxidized, meaning it retains the natural antioxidants, but does not develop as much flavor, color, or caffeine.
One of the strongest teas of the world is, pu’erh. Pu’erh tea is also the finest and most expensive teas in the world. It’s plucked, withered, dried and left to rot. Yes, rot!!!
This tea undergoes additional ripening/fermentation and microorganisms work on the tea, changing it chemically in a similar fashion to aging cheeses. Traditionally this is accomplished over years in controlled climate conditions (10-15 years being ideal).
Yellow tea is a rare and expensive variety of tea. It is produced similarly to green tea, but with an added step of being steamed under a damp cloth after oxidation, giving the leaves a slightly yellow coloring.
Oolong tea is a very uncommon tea and very less people are aware about it. Although no other category of tea offers more diversity of flavor, complexity, and body than oolongs. The oolong tea requires a partial fermentation, and often an additional shaking/bruising step in order to release the additional flavors. This process gives distinct flowery & earthy flavors to the oolong tea. The colour of Oolong can range from dark green to black. Darker oolongs may have buttery or smoky tastes to them. Moreover, Oolong tea has somewhat more caffeine and less antioxidant than green tea.
Black tea is the most common and popular tea among the vast majority of population. This tea undergoes full fermentation which blackens the leaves and causes the formation of caffeine and tannins. It generally possesses the most robust flavor and highest level of caffeine, but the least antioxidants.
Green tea is considered as one of the world’s healthiest beverage. Green tea undergoes a minimal amount of oxidation as the process of oxidation is halted by additional pan-frying (Chinese teas) or steaming (Japanese) steps. The additional processing brings out more flavors, and allows for caffeine to develop, at the cost of a reduction in antioxidants.
Have you ever wondered how tea leaves get from garden into your tea cup? Before you read further, mind it, the process is not easy. Tea professionals often spend years to understand just one style of tea production, so we certainly can’t cover all of the nuances and varieties in one class. Let’s explore the journey of your cup of tea.
Tea processing is the method in which the leaves from the tea plant Camellia sinensis are transformed into the dried leaves for brewing tea. The various categories of tea are differentiated on the basis of processing which they undergo. The process involves different manners and degree of oxidation of the leaves, stopping the oxidation, forming the tea and drying it. Once the processing is done, a tea may be blended with other teas or different variety of flavors in order to obtain the final blend.
The process of tea production begins once the tea leaves have been plucked. After the tea leaves have been plucked, the leaves are first taken to a tea factory to be processed. These factories are usually very close to the tea gardens, so the leaves stay as fresh as possible. Generally, there are only 24 hours between the moment the tea leaves are plucked and the minute they’re packed up.
These 24 hours is very crucial for the leaves as it tends to decide the destiny of the tea that whether they will be black, green or in-between? Caffeinated or decaffeinated? There’s no more important time in a tea leaf’s life!
All the teas whether black, green and white teas, all start off pretty much the same but the magic that happens during the tea production process transforms them.
Tea production falls into one of two styles Orthodox and Non-orthodox or CTC (‘Crush-Tear-Curl’) method, and includes six basic processing steps. These steps can be adjusted depending on the style of tea being produced.
THE ORTHODOX METHOD
This is the most commonly used method and the tea leaves go through seven steps in this process.
Step 1:- PLUCKING
The leaves are harvested by hand, usually ranging between just the unopened bud to the top three leaves and the bud, depending on the tea being created. After plucking, the leaves are sorted for uniformity and any stems, twigs, broken leaves, etc. are removed.
Step 2:- WEIGHING
Once a basket is full, tea pluckers take the tea leaves to be inspected and weighed to make sure only the highest quality, undamaged tea leaves are chosen to be processed.
Step 3:- TRANSPORTING
These newly plucked tea leaves are transported directly from tea garden to on-site production facility. Proper inspection, sorting and processing of the leaves is done.
This is the first stage of proper processing wherein the leaves are laid out to wilt and wither for several hours in order to reduce their moisture content to 60-70%. This is done by laying out the tea leaves in big troughs on a wire mesh. This step prepares the tea leaves for the next process.
The softened tea leaves are rolled, pressed or twisted to break the cell walls of the leaf, wringing out the juices inside. This exposes enzymes and essential oils in the leaf to oxygen in the air – the start of oxidation. In the past, tea leaves were rolled by hand. Today, most factories place them on a rolling machine, which rotates horizontally on a rolling table.
Step 6:- OXIDATION
After rolling, the leaves are laid out to rest for several hours, allowing oxidation to take place. The process of oxidation changes the leaves’ color from green to beige, to a rich, deep brown. Leaves color is the indication of how oxidized the tea is and what its flavor will be like. Less oxidation means lighter tea and vice-versa.
Step 7:- DRYING OR FIRING
This process involves passing the leaves through hot air dryers. This further reduces their water content to about 3%, leaving them ready to be sorted and packed.
THE CTC METHOD
The second way of making tea is called the ‘Cut, Tear and Curl’, also known as CTC tea method. All five steps of Orthodox processing are performed, but much more rapidly and in a limited fashion. CTC was invented specifically for the black tea industry, in an effort to save time and money.
Steaming/Roasting → Cooling → 1st Rolling → 1st Drying (110°C/70°C) → Final Rolling→ Final Drying (120°C/80°C)
“The process of steaming halts the oxidation process and gives light fresh flavour and delicate colour to the tea.”
Green Bud → Withering (72 hrs) → Drying (110°C/65°C)
Withering → 1st Rolling → Oxidizing/Fermenting → Drying (110°C/65°C)
“Black tea is the most common tea used and there are two ways of making it: the ‘orthodox’ method and the ‘CTC’ method as discussed.”
RECIPE BEHIND THAT PERFECT SIP
The taste of tea varies from country to country. In some countries, they like it black, some like it with a dash of honey, some like a blend and others like it masala, the perfect comfort chai.
The method of preparation too varies from place to place. Some add milk, additives, lemon etc while some like to have it with absolutely plain!!! Although the preparation varies, there are some steps which are common all around the world.
Boiling the water and then brewing the tea is the most common method which is common universally. This is done to bring out the essence of the tea leaves, so that we can enjoy the pure aroma along with the taste. One thing which we should consider before brewing is the type of tea used. Different types of tea have different ideal brewing temperatures and steeping times that will yield the best flavor out of that specific tea.
|White||160 to 190 degrees F||2 to 5 minutes|
|Green||160 to 180 degrees F||1 to 3 minutes|
|Oolong||185 to 205 degrees F||2 to 6 minutes|
|Black||200 to 212 degrees F||3 to 5 minutes|
|Herbal||200 to 212 degrees F||5 to 7 minutes|
Making a tea doesn’t requires us to do a Phd but there are some rules which should be followed in order to make that perfect cup of tea.
The proper equipment is very important in the steeping process. When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room.
Fresh water is the best option when it comes to making a perfect cup of tea. This is because when water boils, oxygen is released and the flavours are released with it. Hard water and soft water doesn’t bring the proper flavor in the tea.
What type of tea are you planning to brew? Green tea leaves, for example, are more delicate and fresh than black tea leaves, so they can be steeped at a lower temperature and don’t need to be steeped as long.
Use boiling water when preparing Black, dark Oolong and Herbal teas as they can take the burn, and even require it in order to break down the leaf and release the flavor and antioxidants.
However, it’s important to use cooler water when steeping more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas.
You should be very careful when it comes steep the tea. If you steep tea for too little time, your tea can be weak and watery. If you over steep your tea, you could risk a mouthful of bitterness and astringency.
The rule of thumb is 3-5 minutes for most black teas, depending on your preference for strength. Dark Oolong and White teas will taste best when steeped for 3-5 minutes. For green teas, steeping is required for only 2 minutes or maximum 3 minutes.
Now comes some final points to remember!!!
To make the perfect cup of tea, there is one more prerequisite: good tea. Buy the best that is within your budget. Keep it fresh, too; don’t stockpile tea. Enjoy your fresh tea within 6 months of purchase. The perfect cup is out there… just brew it.
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One Reply to “People/Process/Recipe Behind That Perfect Sip”
What an awesome way to explain this-now I know evnrtyhieg!