Truths about how your tea is made
Tea Truth: tea comes second only to water as the most consumed drink in the world. This ancient drink has been appreciated in myriad cultures for thousands of years. Archeological evidence tells us tea was first cultivated in China more than 6000 years ago. That same Chinese tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is still grown today and made into tea all over the world.
To learn more about the History of Tea, watch this fascinating video from Ted Ed.
It’s worth noting that not all teas are created equal – not to suggest any one variety is better than the other. What’s so intriguing is that from this one plant, so many types of tea can be crafted. Green, white, oolong and black tea are all produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub; what’s different is what happens after harvest.
The first part of the process is the same across all types of tea. When the leaves come into the factory from harvest, they are withered, which means they are spread out to dry, reducing the water content in the leaves.
For green tea, the leaves are steamed in a process that halts oxidisation so the leaves retain their green colour and fresh, delicate flavour. Nerada steams its green tea leaves to create a delicate flavour. No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilisers are used in the cultivation of Nerada’s Organics Green Tea (insert link to shop here). It is also Fairtrade certified.
For white tea, the leaves and buds are picked earlier in the growing phase, when the buds remain closed and the leaves are young and tender. Once picked, the leaves are gently dried, also with the intention to halt oxidisation. The provenance of white tea’s name is the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds. When brewed, white tea takes on a pale yellow hue.
Oolong tea is initially processed similarly to black tea, but isn’t allowed to oxidize for as long. Once the desired oxidation level is reached, the leaves are steamed, similar to green tea, to halt the oxidation process.
For black tea, the leaves go through the withering process, which means they are spread out to dry, reducing the water content. After this, many tea producers break up the leaves so their potent enzymes are released, then they’re shredded and fed through a CTC (cut, tear and curl) or Rotovane machine to release the juices that contain the tea flavour. The broken leaves then go through oxidisation, then the drying process where all the moisture is evaporated and the leaf turns a dark brown or black and production is complete.
No matter what colour or flavour of tea you choose, each tea variety comes with its own time-honoured production methods, making it one of the most loved drinks in the world.