Welcome to the Tea Intersection

by Zachery A. Bowersock

photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Whether you are partial to the brew or not, it is inconceivable to imagine mankind to be where we are today without tea. From the cultural and economical ties to eastern Asia, to the trade and commerce in western Europe, Tea has driven mankind to many great discoveries and developments, such as the discovery of America and the strainer, all thanks to tea. It is no surprise that the beverage is the most popular drink in the world, second only to water.

So why switch your daily routine from coffee to tea? While tea does not commonly have as much caffeine as coffee, tea is rich in vitamins and amino acids. Today, there are so many types of tea available to the people of the world that it can be confusing for those who are not as experienced with the beverage. This article will help you in finding the tea that is perfect for you.

Tea comes in various different types, depending on the toast of the tea leaves. White tea for instance is not toasted, and while it is considered caffeine free, it is also the richest type of tea with vitamins and amino acids. The darker the toast of the tea leaves, the richer the tea is with caffeine but the lower the content of amino acids and vitamins. The exception to this rule is Tisane, a category of tea that is not derived from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. We will delve further into Tisane’s shortly.

White Tea: The Canvas to the World of Tea
White tea is simply the tea leaf bud that is plucked before it is able to go further into photosynthesis. This type of tea is very light, with floral flavors and aromas that are present in some types of green tea, but only as minor flavors that are typically overshadowed by the green tea’s grass like, green flavors that are the most atypical. White tea is very rich in amino acids, and is considered by some to be the most counter carcinogenic type of tea in the world. This type of tea is great hot, but can make many great iced tea recipes. For instance, try adding some pomegranate juice to a batch of iced white tea, and for extra flavor, add some muddled mint leaves for a refreshing springtime drink.

Green Tea, Going Hulk on Your Taste buds
Green Tea is considered the most commonly consumed type of tea in the world, particularly popular in eastern Asian countries. These leaves of tea are young tea buds that are harvested and undergo a very minor toasting process, used to dehydrate the leaves for proper storage. These teas are very rich in antioxidants as well, but also has caffeine to boost ones energy levels. Typically, these teas have a grassy flavor to them, but many have more complex flavors that are very pronounce in the beverage. For instance, Gunpowder green tea has a smokey flavor to the tea, and teas like Macha green tea are high in caffeine and very pronounce in flavors that may seem malty to some brewers.

Oolong Tea, Not A Stretch From Green Tea
Oolong tea is the in between level of toast between green tea and black tea. While it is lower in amino acids in comparison to green tea, and it is lower in caffeine in comparison to black tea, the flavor of this tea is very complex and rich in layers of flavor. It has many of the herbal and floral flavors of green tea, yet notes of toast and tannins are present in each cup. These teas are great hot, but make great infusions into savory dishes. A personal favorite recipe of the author is to infuse oolong tea into white or brown rice, with or without a stem of lavender.

Black Tea, To Brighten Your Day
Black tea is considered to have the lowest level of vitamins, amino acids, and antiodixants (this is relative to the previous teas, this tea does still have them present!), it makes up for this with the highest levels of caffeine. The tea leaves are toasted until they turn dark brown, and are then left to finish toasting either in the tea toaster or left out in the sun to bake to its final level. These teas are great to have by themselves, or they are great as flavored teas. Steeping an orange peel with your tea is a great way to infuse your hot brew with whatever flavor you may desire, from hazelnuts to rose petels, your imagination can really go wild with this tea.

Tisane, the Pepsi to Tea’s Coke
Tisane’s are a broad topic, as they are able to be anything that is not from the tea plant. Camomile tea is a great example of a tisane, but another common tisane is rooibos tea, also known as African Red Bush Tea. These teas are automatically caffeine free, but there are some available with caffeine. These teas are very herbal, and have very rich pronounced flavors.


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