Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's Tea Time. All the Time.

I drink a lot of tea. Like a LOT. Like a LOT.

So I was really quite baffled to learn last week, that green, white and black tea is all processed from the same plant.

White, green, oolong, and black tea are all derived from the leaves and buds of camellia sinensisthe difference is in how they are processed

White Tea is minimally processed and not oxidized. It retains natural antioxidants, and does not develop much flavor, color, or caffeine. It's very light and often fruity.

Green Tea has a minimal amount of oxidation. This process brings out more flavor, and allows caffeine to develop, but this reduces the natural antioxidants. It's often quite grassy or earthy tasting.

Oolong Tea is partially fermented, and often is shaken or "bruised" which releases additional flavors. It has somewhat more caffeine and less antioxidants than green tea and can range in color from dark green to black.

Black Tea is fully fermented. This blackens the leaves and causes the formation of caffeine and tannins*. Generally black tea contains the most caffeine and the most robust flavor, but the least antioxidants.

Other types of tea, such as Rooibos, come from other plants (aspalathus linearis). Processed like black tea, Rooibos (red tea) retains its anti-oxidants and lacks caffeine. It has a sweet, malty flavor.

There's today's chemistry lesson. It's always good to know what you're ingesting!

*tannins are what stains your cup. Staining can be diminished by adding sugar or milk to your tea.

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