Tea comes in many varieties. And, flavored teas, which are some of the most popular teas, are made from every variety of tea that can be produced. The most important aspect in obtaining a delicious flavored tea is the quality of the tea base Kefir Grains.
Teas are grown in thousands of tea gardens throughout the world, and some are better than others. Simply put, the best tea gardens are those that pay careful attention to the details that go into growing various types of tea. And, the best tea comes from the best tea gardens.
Varieties of tea differ primarily in how they’re harvested and produced. All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the variations in harvesting and processing the tea gives this one plant many different flavors.
Black tea, which is the most commonly consumed tea in the Western world, is fermented tea. The tea leaves are plucked, dried and then fermented to turn them a deep red. (This is why black tea is called red tea in most of Asia.) Black tea is a very healthy beverage. However, the fermentation process that black tea undergoes changes the anti-oxidant levels in the tea leaves, and reduces some of their health benefits, particularly when you compare them to other tea varieties.
Green tea is left unfermented. The leaves are withered and dried and then graded and packaged. This simple processing leaves green tea in a very natural state. The leaves brew up to a green or pale amber color and have a very natural, sometimes grassy, flavor. Green tea has been revered for its health benefits.
Because green tea undergoes so little processing, the tea’s anti-oxidants are left in their natural state. These anti-oxidants have been shown to be effective at preventing serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer and at slowing down the aging process.
White tea is also unfermented, so it has the same anti-oxidants and health benefits of green tea. However, white tea is different from green tea because it is harvested so early. White tea leaves are harvested only in early spring, before the buds have even opened, and while they are still covered in a fine white hair. This early harvest gives the tea a very light, sweet and delicate flavor. White tea is harvested just once a year, making it the rarest of all teas.
Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea, somewhere between a green and black tea. The fermentation time varies from country to country, but is significantly shorter than the fermentation period of black teas. Oolong teas also retain a large percentage of their natural anti-oxidants, making them a very healthy tea, as well. In particular, oolong tea is thought to be a very effective weight loss supplement.
Each of these teas has different processing requirements, but all must come from a carefully tended tea garden.
The first work of the tea gardener’s year begins in February or March, when the tea plants are pruned. The time of pruning, as well as the time of the first plucking, varies by climate.
The first harvest begins as the tea plants are ready. The best tea gardens still pluck the leaves by hand, so that they can choose only the leaves that are truly ready for processing. The leaves are withered first, sometimes in the sun, and sometimes in sheds, depending upon the area. White teas are often withered right in the fields.