How do you start a tea-rrific day? Yes, you guessed it right. With a steaming hot cup of tea. Mornings would be way too gloomy without this. In fact, there are very many communities who consider tea to be an integral part of their breakfast. While all tea is deduced from the same plant, the camellia sinesis, these communities are eclectic in the way they like it. Even members of the same family may differ in their choices of tea, depending on the origin, aroma, texture, taste etc.
Broadly speaking, there can be two kinds of tea, namely oxidized and un-oxidized. There are a great many variations within these categories, some of which are mentioned here:
It’s the most delicate kind of all kinds and undergoes very minimal processing. Conventionally cultivated in China, it could only be picked when baihao, a white down appeared on the shoots. These tender shoots are allowed to wither and then dry off to eradicate any possibilities for oxidation. White tea is capable of evoking the most intricate and sophisticated aromas and textures that are closer to the earthier elements like asparagus, almonds, and bamboos. Silver needle is one of its kinds!
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We all see actresses KareenaKapoor and ShraddhaKapoor sipping green tea for endorsements, but we know so little about its compositions. Well, since it’s un-oxidized, they are able to retain their essential color. To limit all possibilities of oxidation, the leaves undergo a heat process and this is done in various countries variously. The Chinese green tea is by far the most renowned, which leads to the emanation of a wide spectrum of flavors including citrus and smoky. Dragon’s well and Pl Lo chun are famous Chinese varieties, while the Japanese ones include Sencha, Houjicha, Matcha.
These are semi-oxidized. Originating in China, they have been cultivated in China and Taiwan for a long time. Different tea estates have their own ways of making oolong tea, but the basic process remains the same- picking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and then they are fired. The procedure is itself very tedious and complicated. The famous varieties include Dong ding and Tai Guan Yin.
The most famously known variety of tea in the world, and are fully oxidized. Indian regions like Assam, Nilgiri, Sri Lanka as well as Darjeeling cultivate some fine black tea. Although everything is becoming largely mechanized, the most famous ones are done by hand in their entirety. This particular type entails the “long standing” trend popularized by the British to generate “blends”. Famous Chinese varieties include Yunnan, Keemun and LapsangSouchong while the Darjeeling and Assam teas of India are pretty famous.
This consist of large tea leaves and the best kinds have a light dusting of mold. The process of cultivating them and compressing them into different shapes is time-consuming, following which they are fermented using bacteria and microflora. The tea’s flavor profile is largely dependent on the time it’s been aged for not unlike wine.
A lot can happen over a cup of tea! Any story in India is totally incomplete without “chai” because it is the answer to every major problem in life. So grab a cup and sing “I like big cups and I cannot lie!”
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