Tea is the most popular beverage in the world, second only to water. The Chinese have been drinking tea for nearly 5000 years and the Japanese developed an intricate tea ceremony to celebrate this delicious healthy beverage.
The term ‘tea’ has historically referred to a beverage brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, including green and black teas. Over time tea has come to mean any drink of herbs, fruits, nuts, flowers and leaves that are prepared by steeping in hot water.
There are over 10,000 varieties of loose leaf teas and an endless combination of healthy herbal infusions, providing a multitude of flavorful aromatic brews to please every palate.
Loose Leaf Tea Types
A rare tea produced in the far northeastern provinces of China, white tea is made from the unopened bud of the leaves and is lightly processed by steaming and drying. White tea brews a pale yellow-green cup with a slightly sweet flavor.
To retain their original flavor and color, green teas are steamed, dried in a wok or roasted immediately after being plucked from the bush. There are several types of green teas, each have a different flavor, but all share a fresh springtime aroma. The flavor is light and somewhat grassy with a touch of sweetness, and brews a pale yellow-green liquor.
Oolong teas are partially processed and range in flavor somewhere between the delicacy of green tea and the depth of black tea. Greener oolongs brew a very pale amber-green liquor and with an aroma similar to hyacinth or narcissus blossoms. Darker oolongs brew a pale amber liquor with a light fruity character. Both varieties benefit from multiple infusions.
Most black tea is produced in India and Sri Lanka, accounting for more than 90 percent of all the tea sold in the West. The varieties and manufacture of black tea vary greatly from country to country, but black teas are always the most processed of all the teas. Black tea is more strongly flavored than green tea, ranging from full bodied and smoky to bold and malty.
Herbal Blends (also Infusions, Tisanes or Botanicals)
Herbal blends have been consumed throughout the world even longer than traditional teas and are typically recognized for their healthy caffeine-free qualities. Herbals are made from a variety of herbs, leaves, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, flowers, roots or bark from plants. Some of the most well-known ingredients are chamomile flower, dandelion root, peppermint leaf, and spearmint leaf.
Rooibos (also Rositea, Red Tea or Red Bush)
Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is a refreshing caffeine-free beverage made from the leaves of the rooibos plant. The people of South Africa have consumed this “red tea” for centuries, and it is becoming increasingly popular all over the world due to its many health benefits. Rooibos has a unique sweet flavor unlike any other tea.
Yerba Maté (or Maté)
Yerba maté (yer-bah mah-tay) is rich in vitamins and minerals and provides numerous antioxidants making it a true power drink. Yerba Maté is a good substitute for coffee because it energizes without causing the jitters associated with coffee. Yerba maté comes in green and roasted varieties, and has a smooth flavor similar to green tea.