Did you know all teas are grown from the same plant? Matcha, Oolong, Earl Grey- all begin with the leaves of the Camelia sinensis. But its the way those leaves are treated; be it fried, dried, steamed, toasted, or withered that give each tea a distinctive personality.
A quick rundown on how tea is categorized:
Black and Oolong (sometimes called wulong) teas are made by leaving picked leaves out to dry in the sun, where they go through their “withering stage,” meaning a chemical reaction takes place when the leaves interact with the sun, causing them to oxidize. Black teas soak up the rays until turning a brownish black, while oolongs only stay out long enough to ferment partially.
Green teas are not left in the sun to oxidize like black or oolong. Freshly picked leaves are subsequently steamed or fried in a pan- keeping them from fermenting. The subtle differences in the way the leaves are rolled, flattened, and dried gives way to many different varieties(including our faves- matcha and sencha). Green tea is the only type of tea containing the antioxidant EGCG- which is said to do all kinds of things from preventing cancer and heart disease, to helping with weight loss, and freshening breath.
White tea, the rarest and least processed type of tea, has a very delicate flavor and aroma. This subtle tea is made from young leaves, picked very early in the season while the buds and still closed and covered in teeny, tiny silvery white hairs.