The Varieties of Tea - An Introduction

The Varieties of Tea 

The varieties of tea are as diverse as body types.  The flavors of tea differ according to the region where they are grown as well as the distinctive processing techniques developed in different regions and cultures.

As you experiment with different teas be mindful of not only the taste, but also the resulting sensation and overall feeling of wellness in your body.  Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the correct pairing of tea to an individual’s body chemistry can create a state of homeostasis and prevent an overly high acid pH which is linked to certain illnesses including the development of cancers.  


White Tea: Liver Protection

White tea is lightly fermented and considered a treasured Chinese tea. After harvest, white tea is dried slowly by fire, with minimal further processing. White tea, rich in flavonoids, protects the liver and reduces damage to the liver . White tea is also known to reduce fatigue, lung, and digestive disorders.  Recently, Anji White tea has become popular among young Chinese women as a “beauty tea”.  Anji White Tea is made with the early harvest buds like White tea but processed like green teas.  Its health benefits are similarly a combination of those of traditional white and green teas.


Green Tea: Prevent & Heal

Green teas have the longest history and are the most widely produced in China.  The green tea leaves yield a liquor that ranges from clear to golden or amber with a slight green or ochre hue.  Each different Green tea has a slightly different process to give its characteristic appearance and taste, but primarily involves dewatering, rolling, and drying.  Being unfermented, green teas retain polyphenols, catechin, chlorophyll, caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients. These natural green tea compounds have been shown to diminish effects of aging, cancerous cells, and inflammation, and are beneficial to dental health. From a traditional medicine perspective, green tea reduces internal heat, often associated with illness.  Among the best known varieties of green tea include Dragon Well, Sword Green, Maojian, and Gunpowder Green.


Yellow Tea: For Everyone

Yellow tea is a lightly fermented tea.  It is made in a manner similar to green tea, but after the leaves have been rolled or pressed, undergoes retting (smothering the with a damp cloth for a set period of time) which produces enzymes good for resolving indigestion and loss of appetite.  The result is a thick, refreshing infusion that is yellow in leaf and brew.  The characteristics of yellow tea fall between cool green tea and warm black tea, producing a drink suitable for anyone and all seasons.


Oolong Tea: For Weight Loss

Oolong (or Wulong) tea is semi-fermented in what is commonly a five-step process.  Freshly harvested leaves are withered, fermented, dewatered, rolled and dried.  Like black tea, it is the fermentation process which is essential to defining the final tea profile.  Oolong is a popular tea and regional variations in the processing yields interesting distinctions.  One of the most popular style of Oolong include Iron Goddess or Iron Buddha (Tieguanyin) produced in Southern Fujian province.   Other popular variations are found in Norther Fujian, Guangdong, and Taiwan.  In Chinese medicine Oolong tea is used to help reduce fat.  It is also rich in tannins which improve the metabolism.


Black Tea: Warms the Stomach & Protects the Heart

Black tea (which is called Red Tea in Chinese) goes through a multi-step fermentation process in which tea polyphenols are oxidized and condense. The process involves withering, rolling, fermenting, and drying, of which the fermentation is the most important. The fermentation process determines the depth of its auburn color and richness of its taste. Theaflavins are the main functional component in black teas. Medical research has found that drinking black tea helps regulate cholesterol and reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.  From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, black tea is used to warm the stomach for those who always feel cold, a symptom linked to poor circulation.


Dark Tea: Prevent Cold & Reduce Fat

Dark tea (or what Chinese call “Black Tea”) is a variety of post-fermented tea.  The most common variety known is Yunnan Dark Pu-erh.  The process involves putting coarse aged leaves through dewatering, rolling, pile-fermentation, and drying processes.  The fermentation of the tea causes it to undergo complex chemical reactions from microbes, generating beneficial vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, and sugars. Black tea aids digestion and can improve intestinal health. Clinical experiments state, dark tea is formed by the microbial heap process, creating health benefits associated with controlling cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, and weight issues.  Chinese medicine regards dark Pu-erh as a tea that can promote weight loss and soften the arteries.

Tea not only quenches thirst but also improves physical and mental health over a life time.


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