food and beverage underground

Time For Tea

Tea, Hot that is! This beverage refers to the beverage and the plant. The beverage is made by steeping the leaves in hot water for a few seconds to a few minutes according to the type of tea used. All tea comes from the same plant,
Camellia sinensis, not including herbal teas. Herbal teas are made from dried flowers and herbs, and are not actually tea.

Both types of teas can be brewed loose or tea bags. Teas have different characteristics due to its terrior (wine speak for climate, soil, season, and care). The flavor is developed by fermentation (oxidation), drying, and the blending of the teas themselves to create the different styles. Oxidation occurs when the tea plant is either crushed, bruised or broken so the leaves are exposed to air. The three main varieties of camellia sinensis are the India, or Assam, the China and the Hyprid. India tea is large leafed, grows well in lower altitudes, and China tea is small leafed and grows in higher altitudes. Hyprid teas is a blend of both China and India teas. There are hundreds of types of tea, but can be grouped into these categories;

Black Tea – generally is a strong tea that is heavily oxidized and fermented to create a dark, and very complex tea. This process diminishes all of the vegetal qualities of the tea leaf, replacing with a dark amber, to black elixir that compare to coffee. The leaves are broken up to allow the surface is open to air, and fully oxidized they turn black, hence the name. Examples are Darjeeling and Ceylon.

Green Tea – is very popular in Asian countries, and is gaining ground in the states. The leaves are allowed to mature after being hand picked, and a short pan fired or steamed to halt the oxidation. This gives the tea its natural vegetal flavor, slight sweetness and its greenish to yellow color, with a nose from grassy to floral. Green tea is not oxidized, being close to white tea, but the difference is Green tea uses rolled leaves and not the buds. It is low in caffeine and high in antioxidants like black tea.

Oolong Tea – dates back to over 400 years in China. The oolong tea is allowed to oxidize partially, making a complex, dark tea that is between green and black tea. This slight oxidization can vary on the variety, and a color from greenish yellow to dark amber. By only bruising the leaves, not allowing the leaves to be broken so that only slight oxidation occurs makes this tea the most difficult to process.

White Tea – is made of immature silver colored dried buds of the plant. White tea is picked and processed before they ripen so that the characteristics are very subtle. By not oxidizing at all, and allowed to dry is called withering. White tea has less caffeine, and a very pale color. White tea produces a healthy, light, and airy tea. White tea is the rarest and the least processed.

Brewing Loose Tea makes a better cup because the tea is keep whole, while bags contain broken up pieces allowing flavors to degrade.

Proper Tea times and Temperatures

Tea typeTimeTemp
White 7 – 10 min 200 F
Green 3 – 4 min 180 F
Oolong 4 – 5 min 190 F
Black 5 min 210 F
Herbal 5 min 210 F
From Tea to Coffee

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