When it comes to tea, there is an infinite amount to learn. When I began getting serious about tea drinking, I realized I was in a jungle and I had to learn what is tea. The fun starts with deciding what type you want to drink! If you become like me, you will grow to love the process of brewing tea from start to sipping the last drop! Because there is so much to learn, we want to start with some of the basics.
You are going to learn what is tea, how to prepare it, where you should start, and more.
This post is all about what is tea and five quick facts to get your started!
What is tea, and where does it come from?
Tea is a perennial evergreen. All tea comes from the same plant, camellia Sinensis, and it originated in China.It has a rich history across many cultures. We are living in a fantastic time as tea is accessible worldwide. Some significant tea producers include China, India, and Sri. Lanka, Taiwan, and Japan. Although these are not the only areas of the world you can purchase tea, some of these countries produce the best you can get.
Tea has many chemical components released upon steeping, influencing the final product you have in your cup! For that reason, there is undoubtedly importance to how tea is brewed, whether it be loose tea or an old fashion tea bag. Although there is room for experimenting, I always suggest following instructions from the creator when getting started for the best results.
How Many Varieties Of Tea Are There?
Tea is vast, comparable to coffee or even wine. There are six main styles, each with unique qualities and characteristics depending on where they are produced. The six main styles are; green, yellow, white, oolong (or Wulong), black (or red), and dark (or Pu’erh) tea.
Since all tea comes from the same plant, the largest differentiator between the styles is how long it is oxidized for. The longer a tea is oxidized the darker it is with bolder, in your face flavor. Green tea is the least oxidized tea, while dark tea is the most.
You will have subtle or very noticeable differences within each tea style. For example, green Tea from Japan will have very different aromas, appearance, and tasting notes from green tea produced in China. However, green tea from two different farms in Japan may have the same appearance but very subtle changes in aroma and taste. Those subtle differences may determine whether you like one tea over the other. For example, a Sencha green tea from one farm may have sweet and ocean-like notes, whereas another may be very umami, with slightly roasted notes.
Also, from one style of tea to another, there will be various characteristics associated with that tea to consider. White tea tends to be fruity, floral, and sweet, while most black teas may have confectionary, roasted, or earthy notes. This is why the question, “what is tea”, is something I love to talk about. It is pleasantly complicated!
How Do You Prepare Tea?
What is tea is half the battle.The significant aspect of tea is that with so many styles, there are many ways to prepare it. You, of course, have the traditional tea bags that we all grew up on, but what many tea drinkers incorporate or move to entirely is loose-leaf tea.
When I switched off coffee for tea, I drank a lot of bagged tea. Then, friends of mine gave me my first teapot, which changed everything for me. You can read more about my story with tea. With loose-leaf tea, there are countless amounts of different teaware to brew. Some of those are gaiwans, clay, glass, or ceramic teapots. Occasionally, you can take loose-leaf tea and put it into your tea bags. There is also cold brewing and even making sun tea.
Where Should You Start?
Before diving into the deep abyss that is the world of tea, you want to take it slow. Mainly because it can be an investment if you want to dip deep into tea, as excellent tea and teaware are not necessarily cheap. Many great brands sell high-quality bagged teas. One of my favorites is Rishi! When I was getting started, one of my everyday go-to’s was the classic English Breakfast. It is very versatile and pairs lovely with some cream and honey. Twinings is my number one choice even today!
When you establish what tea you like bagged, it is easy to purchase it as loose-leaf, which finally helped me get into my tea obsession. I had been drinking bagged tea for years, and I decided to go to loose black tea, brewing it myself. As time passed, I became more curious about other teas, and I started ordering more styles; the rest is history. When you are ready for loose, you can invest in a kettle to help you obtain the proper water temperature and a teapot to steep!
Where Can You Find Out More?
Check out my article on favorite teaware to give you an idea of what kinds you can purchase and teas that are best to brew in the pot. If you want to start learning about different teas, I have reviews such as Floating Leaves Muzha Tie Guanyin or African Chai.
Armed with facts to answer what is tea, you are ready to venture on your own! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions I can answer. Remember to keep it simple when starting. As the great tea master Sen no Rikyu said, “Tea is nought but this: first you heat the water, then you make the tea. Then you drink it properly. That is all you need to know.”