For tea lovers, Chinese teas are at the top of everyone’s list. The art of drinking tea has been practiced for thousands of years in China and the methods that are used to process tea are inherited from ancient Chinese traditions. As part of this long tradition, tea is a daily part of people’s lives in China.
The classification of Chinese teas is based upon the initial processing method at harvest, while the types of tea are determined by subsequent processing.
If you aren’t sure which tea to buy, here is some useful information regarding the processing methods and types of Chinese teas.
Methods of processing tea
Non-fermented tea simply means that the leaves are picked, dried, and packed, which makes them retain quite a bit of their original flavor. The leaves can be later steamed, flattened, rolled into balls, or even twisted to squeeze out both the fragrance and the flavor of the tea.
To further develop the flavor of the tea, the leaves are kept warm and moist for several hours, which causes them to turn black as chemicals in the leaves break down. The warm, moist leaves are next dried, graded, and packed. Longer fermentation also releases more caffeine. Green tea, which is non-fermented, has one-third of the caffeine as compared to black tea.
This process of semi-fermentation is similar to fermented teas; however, oxidation times are adjusted to bring out a particular taste. In general, these tea leaves are tender green in color with red edges and a subtle fragrant aroma, making them very unique.
As the name suggests, this type of tea is stored and compressed for years in cool-dry cellars before packaging. Processing involves fixation, rolling, and piling after the fresh leaves are picked to bring out more complex flavors before storage.
Types of Chinese tea
Green tea is the oldest and most famous of the Chinese teas. This tea is non-fermented and its leaves are simply picked and dried. Traditional green teas have a pale color and a sharp flavor, and are primarily produced in the provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Anhui. Green teas have many health benefits.
Oolong tea or blue tea are semi-fermented teas and possesses unique characteristics. The degree of oxidation of this tea falls between green and black, and is determined by the drying procedure. The bright yellowish color of this tea comes with a fresh flavor and a long-lasting perfume-like aftertaste. It is commonly used for weight loss. Oolong tea is primarily produced in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, and in Taiwan.
Yellow tea is a non-fermented tea that is produced by a natural drying process. It possesses a distinctive smell and a flavor that is close to white and green teas. The most popular yellow tea is produced in Hunan Province and is called Junshan Yinzhen.
White tea is known as a unique product in China because of its mellow and mild flavor. This is a non-fermented tea and has similar characteristics to green and yellow teas. White tea is mainly produced in Fujian Province, and the most popular brands of white tea are Silver Needle, White Peony, and White Eyebrow.
Black Tea is a fermented tea that has a delicious aromatic taste and a deep reddish color. Black tea is the second most popular Chinese tea, after green tea. The favorite brand of black tea is Keemun, and it is produced mainly in the provinces of Qimen, Yingde, and Yunan.
This traditional class of tea is post-fermented from black, green, or oolong tea. It is a dark tea that has a smooth, mellow, and distinctively earthy flavor. Pu’er tea originated in Yunan Province, where it is still produced. There are two types of Pu’er — raw or green Pu’er and Shu Pu’er, which is ripened.
Will you be enjoying more Chinese tea after learning more about it? Feel free to share your favorite tea with friends and family!
Jennifer Gebhart is a passionate blogger, tea lover, and health enthusiast. She enjoys learning about tea and reading articles about various health topics. She also likes drinking tea from Teaola because of the many benefits that it offers.