Guide is developed by The SmartFactory (http://www.smartfactory.ca), a division of INBOX Solutions (http://inboxinternational.com)


Tea that has not been fermented is called GREEN TEA. Tea steeped from green tea leaves is jade green to yellow-green in color, and gives off the fragrance of fresh vegetables. Examples of green tea are "Dragon Well" (Lung-ching) and "Green Snail Spring" (Pi-lo-chun).

Tea is made from the young, tender leaves of the tea tree. The differences among the many kinds of tea available are based on the particular methods used to process the leaves. The key to the whole process is the roasting and fermentation. Through fermentation, the originally deep green leaves become reddish-brown in color. The longer the fermentation, the darker the color. Depending on the length of the roasting and degree of fermentation, the fragrance can range from floral, to fruity, to malts.

Green teas have a grassy, broth, astringent flavor. Green teas are more widely consumed in Asia. However, with the release of a number of studies on the health benefits of drinking green tea, sales of green tea are growing in the U.S. at over 30%. Green tea is made by first steaming or pan-frying the fresh leaves to prevent the oxidation process that produces black tea. Next the leaves are rolled and then the tea is fired to dry the leaves.

The Chinese call tea that undergoes full fermentation RED TEA (hung-cha); in the West it is known as BLACK TEA. Tea made from black tea leaves is reddish-brown in color and has a malt-like aroma.

Black tea is currently the most popular in the world, enjoyed mainly as iced tea. Recent studies have shown that black tea provides equal health benefits as its green cousin. All tea leaves are green when harvested. Some are processed green - others are allowed to oxidize. Oxidation and firing turns the leaf black. (Firing - The tea leaf is exposed to high temperature over fire or commercial ovens). After firing the tea is sorted by sifting the leaf with various size screens.

BLACK TEA is the most widely consumed teas; black teas are full-flavored and characterized by a tannic, woody astringency with subtle, flowery nuances. To make black tea, the leaves are picked and withered for one to two days and then rolled (rolling helps to release the enzymes needed for the next step). Next the leaves are oxidized, which develops the characteristic black tea flavor and changes the color of the leaves from green to brown or black. Finally the tea is fired in hot pans or ovens to stop oxidation and the dry leaves.

OOLONG TEA is a partially-fermented tea. This tea is unique to China and Taiwan is one of its most representative areas of production.

Oolong tea comes in three degrees of fermentation: lightly fermented, moderately fermented and fully fermented. The identifying features of lightly fermented Oolong tea, such as Paochung, are a full aroma, clarity, and a golden color.

Moderately fermented types such as "Iron Buddha" (Tie Kuan Yin), and "Frozen Peak" (Dong Ding), have a brown color, a full "mature" flavor that appeals more to the sense of taste than that of smell, and a vaguely sweet aftertaste. Tea infused from moderately to heavily fermented tea leaves like "White Tip" Oolong (Oriental Beauty) has a red-orange color and a fruity aroma.

The fresh leaves are withered for one to two days and the leaves are then rolled to release enzymes (needed for the next step). Then the tea leaves are allowed to oxidize although for a shorter period than for black tea and the process is stopped before it is completed. The tea is fired (heated) to prevent further oxidation and to dry the tea. Oolong teas can vary significantly in flavor depending on when the oxidization process is interrupted having more of a green tea character if interrupted early in the process and more black tea character the longer oxidation continues.

White tea is produced in a different way to all other teas. The leaves come from special varietals bushes and are not processed but are dried in the sun. Only special leaves are selected, the ideal is two leaves wrapped around a new shoot. After drying the leaves are again selected and sorted by hand.

White tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. The tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds, which turns white when the tea is dried. While Chinese tea drinkers have been hip to white tea's benefits since the Ming Dynasty, until recently it was virtually unknown outside of Asia. Not anymore. Today, everyone from chefs to medical researchers is praising white teas delicate flavor and purported health benefits. White tea contains more polyphenols, the powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than any other type of tea.

White tea is especially potent in that it is has three times as many antioxidant polyphones as green or black tea, and has been shown to be 100% more effective in mopping up free radicals that cause skin to sag. Some of the worlds top cosmetic companies are becoming very interested in white tea for skin creams and the result is that high grade white tea is becoming even rarer than before.

A delicate flower blooms inside this ball tea just before tiny flowers slowly cascade upward like Champagne bubbles. The flowers add their enlivening fragrance and strong taste to this delectably smooth green tea. Our Ball offers one of the most artful spectacles in tea. This blooming tea has an original shape of a tiny ball and when put in boiling water a bouquet of tea leaves and flower. The aromas of both flowers and tea leaves are very well preserved and these exceptional teas develop a wonderful flavor and create at the same time a beautiful "table decoration".

Once dropped into a glass of hot water, this ball tea unveils a broad flower followed by the sudden eruption of a flower plume, which is an actually flower sewn together end to end. The golden liquor yields a full-bodied flavor intensified by the large medicinal bloom. Let the blooming tea brew for at least 8 minutes, a longer brewing time will not spoil the tea, on the contrary, the flavor will rather improve. One piece of blooming tea can be used twice with approximately 5 to 6 dl water each time.

Blooming teas are also known as artistic teas, flowering teas or as simply as art teas. It's made by artisans in China. The Blooming teas are made from the finest full length AA grade green or white tea leaves, finely cut and hand sewn with natural flowers. The tea is blended 3 times with the freshest bloomed jasmine to produce the beautiful aroma unique to jasmine. Hand-tied with silver needles (a kind of white tea) or long green tea leaves and dried around a flower center that "blooms" - just put one at the bottom of a pot, then add hot water and enjoy the show.

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