Tea is an age-old beverage, a natural timeout, a pick-me-up, and the solution to the majority of life’s problems – if tea can’t fix it, it’s serious! This epic brew starts its life as bright green leaves on either the Camellia sinenis, native to China, or the Camellia assamica, native to Assam in India. Similar to those pretty Camellias in your grandma’s garden, these hardy evergreen shrubs thrive in warm, wet places around the globe. To delve into teas crazy history and journey around the world, check out our history section here.
Although we sip many varieties, all traditional tea (think white, green, black) comes from one of these two Camellia varieties. It all comes down to how the leaves are processed that makes the difference. We’ve broken the steps down for you here, from pick to sip…
1. Picking This is a damn delicate state of affairs and is mostly done by women due to their superior dexterity. Girl power!
2. Withering The picked leaves are laid out to wither. This gets ’em nice and supple for the next part of the process without cracking or splitting the leaf. White tea, the least processed of all varieties, exits the game here.
3. Rolling The withered leaves are rolled, twisted or rubbed by machine or hand. This helps to break cells which then release enzymes in the leaf, leading us onto the next step…
4. Oxidisation The leaves are laid out and the broken cells and enzymes absorb oxygen which browns the leaf and dramatically changes how the tea ends up tasting. This is the exact same process that turns your cut apple brown when you leave it out on the bench.
5. Drying/frying/steaming To stop the oxidation at the desired point (guru tea masters rely on a 6th sense to know exactly when) heat is applied which deactivates the oxidizing enzymes, further dries the leaf, and locks in the aromas. Green tea undergoes this process after rolling to prevent oxidisation. This is why the leaves stay green!
Viola! There you have it, tea my friends! It’s often then blended with various other ingredients (fruits, herbs, flowers) to add flavours that compliment the tea base. It’s then on you to follow the brewing guide here, sit back, relax and enjoy.