The different types of tea
Black or green?
Black tea is the most commonly drunk in the UK, from traditional English Breakfast and Lady Grey to more exotic imports like chai. But green tea is gaining in popularity, not least because of its slimming properties.
Whether your tea is black or green, the leaves still come from the same plant. It’s the cultivation and production methods that are different. Black tea is fermented for around four hours, while green tea is only fermented very briefly (Oolong tea is somewhere between the two). These different production methods don’t affect the antioxidants contained in the tea. Tea’s always healthy, whether it’s green or black. It's also rich in flavonoids, which fight against free radicals in the body. Choosing the perfect tea is all about taste. The only thing to be aware of is that black tea contains a little bit more theine (otherwise known as caffeine).
It's all in the leaves
The quality of tea is determined by the leaves picked from the tea bush. The leaves are taken from every branch of the plant, around the buds. If you take just the bud and the two first tender leaves, the tea is classed as ‘pekoe’ or ‘flowery pekoe’. If the next leaf on the branch is picked, this tea is called ‘souchong pekoe’. Finally, the fourth or fifth leaves are known as ‘souchong’. Thiese leaves are used to make the most common tea.
The Asian origins of tea
There are three main types of tea:
- China: These teas are orangey with a very subtle flavour. Connoisseurs advise against adding milk to ensure you get the most out of the different aromas.
- Ceylon: This is a specialist tea from Sri Lanka, exported by British colonialists in the nineteenth century. It’s one of the richest in terms of antioxidant content.
- Darjeeling: The champagne of teas, Darjeeling comes from the plateaus of Darjeeling in India, at more than 2000m above sea level. Less than 1% of tea drunk around the world comes from this region. Ideally, it should be drunk soon (less than a year) after the leaves are picked.