Tea Basics

By pouring hot water over leaves and buds from the tea bush Camellia sinensis you make the drink called tea. The Chinese have been drinking tea for at least 2,000 years. Since then it has became a very popular drink that has spread around the world. Since tea is a beverage with such a long history, it is not known when, how and who first discovered tea drinking. Historians also argue whether the tea bush originates from China or India.

The Tea Bush Camellia sinensis

All types of tea are made from the tea bush Camellia sinensis. This bush is actually a tree that can reach 20 meters in height when growing in the wild. However, when it is cultivated it is rarely allowed to grow any higher than 1.5 meter high, since the pickers need to be able to reach the leaves.

Its flowers look like those of the cherry tree, they are white and pink. The leaves are leathery, shiny and dark green. It is most often the young tender leaves that are used for tea production.

The Camellia sinensis likes a hot climate with a mean temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius. Since it is sensitive to cold the winters must also be mild.

Different Types of Tea

Tea can be categorized into six main groups: green tea, oolong, black tea, white tea, yellow tea and dark tea. The main thing that separates them is the oxidation process during production. This is where black tea gets its dark red colour.

The three main tea categories are the following:

  • Green tea is unoxidized. In the beginning it was used as a medicine and it is still regarded as a healthy drink. It has been mentioned often in the press because of this, and science has proven it to be good for your health. But the other types of tea are good healthy alternatives for those who don’t like like green tea.
  • Oolong tea is semi-oxidized. The colour is orange to red, depending on the level of oxidation.
  • Black tea is oxidized. The tea leaves go through the full oxidation process which changes the character of the tea leaves. The colour darkens and the taste becomes less astringent.