There are hundreds of different types of Chinese tea. The origins of tea in Chinese culture can be traced back over 5,000 years. Throughout history it has been used for medicinal purposes. Even in today’s culture we still see this. It’s commonly consumed after meals to aid in digestion, ingested to ease respiratory illnesses, and used as a type of toxin cleanser for the body. While all Chinese tea comes from the same source, the Camilla Sinensis, there are multiple varieties. Chinese tea can be broken up in to four distinct categories.
White tea has a mild, somewhat floral flavor. Chinese white tea gets its name from the milky like color of the leaves. This tea is made by picking the leaves of the plant while they are still young, before any buds on the plant bloom. When it comes to purported health benefits, white tea is supposed to be the most potent. You can find white tea blends in most health food stores, but you may be hard pressed to find a good selection in your regular grocery store. White tea is often blended with flowers, such as rose, to add more flavors. The flavor of white tea is mild enough that it can easily be blended with other floras without taking away from the flavor qualities.
Green Chinese Tea
Green Chinese tea is among the most popular type of Chinese tea available now. For green tea, the leaves are picked at maturity, but they aren’t fermented before processing. The plain leaf is dried, and the tea is made. Green tea is also known for some purported health benefits. It has been used for everything from weight loss to skin care. Its light fragrance also makes it popular as a base for many perfumes and lotions. Green tea is easily found at most grocery retailers, and some companies are now making it already brewed and bottled. Some Chinese green tea types are great when brewed for iced tea as well.
Black tea is the most popular form of tea in the West. Sometimes this is referred to as red tea because of the color. In the West, most tea’s labeled as red tea are actually blended with something else. Chinese black tea has a very strong flavor, and is a preferred drink for breakfasts. Black tea itself has several different categories. A black and green mix of tea will give a smoother flavor with the same caffeine bite. This is most often referred to as Oolong tea. Mild black tea can also be found in a few varieties.
When traditional Chinese tea is mixed with the petals of certain flowers, it’s called a scented tea. Some flowers have a wonderful flavor, and are perfect for this. Some examples are rose tea- a blend of white tea with rose petals, and jasmine tea- green tea with jasmine flowers. Some teas can be made with the blooms only. A good example of this is the Numi Flowering Teas. These are served in a clear glass tea pot. A large bloom that hasn’t completely opened is placed in the bottom of the tea pot. Hot water is added, and as the bloom steeps, the flower opens. The result is tea that is just as much art as it is a beverage. Many people will make this, and have some other form of Chinese tea in the cups to give it a stronger flavor.
Finding Chinese Tea
It’s easy to buy Chinese tea. You can find it in most retail grocery stores, health food stores, and many online stores. You can choose tea already blended and in bags for easy brewing, or loose tea leaves to use with a tea ball or strainer. If you decide to purchase Chinese tea online, be sure you trust the site so you don’t end up with poor quality.