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Chinese Tea Facts

Chinese Tea… Some of us drink Chinese tea for its health benefits, others drink tea just because it tastes great, many Chinese drink and give tea as a gift as part of their culture – a long standing Chinese tradition of giving something simple but precious to business clients or friends…

Chinese Tea Facts and Types Of  Tea …

When infusing quality tea the greatest influence on its final taste, is the water you use, for generations Chinese Tea Masters have considered a mountain spring to be the perfect water source to bring out the true flavour and fragrance hidden in quality tea, this belief is still held today,

You will often find traditional tea houses in China or Taiwan located next to a spring or stream.

As well as water, the seasons have a significant impact, with Spring picked tea being the most sought after, Autumn or summer tea a close secound.

The altitude and weather conditions the tea is grown in, as well as soil type, will also have an noticeable impact on tea quality and influence the flavours and the final price of high grade tea,

Along with each individual Tea Masters processing methods … all these factors combined have an impact on the tea grade and quality.

China’s history of tea dates back to the Han Dynasty when tea was used as a medicine, tea evolved from a medicine to be used at social occasions during the Tang Dynasty possibly earlier.

There is a well documented proud history of tea production or ” Tea Culture ”  throughout China, Taiwan, and spreading out to Japan, Korea and surrounding countries … in each country or region a tea ceremony displaying a genuine reverence for tea has evolved and is securely embedded into their cultural base.

Types Of Tea…

There are numerous sub-varieties of Chinese tea, most of them are native to a specific region within China, but in general terms Chinese tea is divided into 6 categories.

Chinese Green Tea
Oolong Tea
Pu-erh Tea
White Tea
Black Tea
Herbal or Scented Tea

Chinese Tea, can be defined by its method of processing

Non fermented…
Non-fermented Chinese teas are known as green teas, white teas and yellow teas (true yellow teas, due to their complex processing are now quite rare). this category will include some Tie-Guan-Yin teas this is a popular delicate tea that in can be difficult to store for long periods, delicate tea’s are best stored in your fridge this will help maintain the colour and flavour of the tea. Leaves are picked, then dried. The leaves may be steamed, flattened, twisted or rolled into small balls which are often flavoured with Jasmine flowers to accentuate the tea’s fragrance and flavour. Fujian region in Southern China is famous for Jasmine tea… The non fermentation process permits very little oxidization of the leaves and retains the natural taste and nutrients in the leaves.

Fermented teas (Black Tea) are known as Red Teas in China, such as our Wild Black Tea grown on a remote plateau in Yunnan, or our Lapsang Souchong a high mountain tea with a unique flavour due to its final process of being smoked over a brush wood fire. Lapsang Souchong is considered the one of first black teas in the world. The general flavour of black teas is developed by keeping the tea leaves warm and moist for several hours (similar to composting) the leaves turn a rich dark black as the chemicals produced start to break the leaves down, the tea leaves are then dried by a variety of methods; dependent on the Tea Masters back ground and the local area he works from, the choices made at this stage dramatically affects the taste and tea grade.

Semi fermented…
These are the Oolong teas, such as the famous Da-hong-pao (emperor’s red robe tea) from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian some will call this tea “robe tea” this is a dark rich tea with an amazing unique flavour, well worth the hype and accolades it receives… this is also a popular gift tea or reserved for special guests. We stock several types of Oolong including Da-hong-pao and Tie-Guan-Yin a light tea with green tea qualities and very popular in its home region of Fujian. Oolongs are processed in a similar manner as the fermented teas, but the time of oxidization is adjusted with in a wide range  to create a tea variety that covers a diverse taste range from green to almost black teas. If I had to limit myself to only one tea type, it would be Oolong  Tea.

Post fermented…
Pu-Erh tea from Yunnan province, We stock several types including Wild Plantation Tea picked from old trees, as well as Bo-hai Royal (2004) historically this Pu-erh was used by the Royal family it has a soft rich flavour and good for general health-specifically your stomach, or Yi-Wu Mountain Pu-erh (2004) a traditional style of tea dating back 5,000 years. Pu-erh Tea after processing is often compressed and stored, sometimes for several years before it is available for purchase. (some say the longer the better but 1 to 30 years is usual for collectible Pu-erh) This natural aging has a mellowing effect and is better for your health… plus aging adds complexity to the flavour.

Choosing Chinese Tea…

At first,  choosing the best tea for you to buy can seem daunting and a little confusing due to the many categories and sub-categories of tea available but the simple approach works best, buy a small selection of tea that suits your taste and budget… not the tea an expert or tea connoisseur says is the best this year…Let your own personal tastes and budget dictate what tea you buy.

Most good online tea stores will help you choose the best tea by offering extensive descriptions this makes buying tea a simple process you don’t require vast amounts of knowledge to find and buy tea online.

Simply use the Tea Store descriptions as a starting point buy a small amount of the tea that interests you… Experience will quickly tell you what types of tea suit you the best.

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