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Tea 101: Classification

Tea 101: Tea Classification

If you are new to the world of tea, it may be hard for you to tell the difference between various teas. Thus, it is a good idea to learn the classification of tea in your first Tea 101 class.

While all teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, there are five major tea categories. They differ in terms of the degree of oxidation, a process in tea production where tea undergoes enzymatic oxidation.

Without further ado, let’s introduce you to these five members of the tea family.

White Tea: essentially unprocessed tea

White tea is simply plucked and allowed to wither dry under the sun. The finest white teas, including Silver Spring Needle and Harvest Moon, are known for their unique outlook: the young tea buds are covered by fine white hairs.

Most white teas produce pale green or light yellow liquor and offer you a delicate and floral taste.

We have selected some of the most popular and representative white teas in our Estate Reserve Collection, including:

  • Harvest Moon from Yunnan, China

  • Aged Honey Peony from Fujian, China

  • Alpine Bloom from Almora, India

  • Silver Spring Needle from Yunnan, China

Green Tea: non-oxidized

By heating and steaming the leaf, the green tea does not go through the oxidation process. As a result, it is able to retain its green color, as if it was just picked from the tea tree.

Most green teas have a delicate and refreshing taste. Our Dragonwell Dew produced in Zhejiang Province in China is a representative of green tea. This specific cultivar was chosen for having a smooth mouthfeel with slight nutty sweetness, which contrasts many Dragonwells that possess prominent grassy flavors.

Oolong Tea: semi-oxidized

Oolong tea is partially oxidized, which gives it a distinctive taste and aroma. The degree of oxidation ranges from 10 - 80%. It nicely combines the delicateness of green tea and the mellowness of black tea.

Oolong tea is one of the most time-consuming teas to create as it includes all five basic steps of tea production, with rolling and oxidizing done separately.

Some of the representative oolong teas in our Estate Reserve Collection include:

  • Yunnan Gold from Yunnan, China

  • Dark Forest from Guangxi Zhuang, China

Black Tea: fully oxidized

Black tea is fully oxidized, which tends to have a dark red hue with a sweet aroma of malt sugar. The finest one will give you a bright floral flavor.

Black tea is probably the most popular type of tea, especially in the USA. It is grown and processed in various places across the world. Our black teas mostly focus on growing regions in China and India.

Some of the most popular kinds of black tea in our collection include:

  • Quimen Gongfu from Anhui, China

  • Eternal Temple from Darjeeling, India

  • Orthodox Assam from Assam, India

Dark Tea: post-fermented

Of all five tea categories, dark tea is the only truly fermented one that goes through a microorganism-induced fermentation rather than just enzymatic oxidation.

The most common and famous type of dark tea is known as Pu-erh. It comes in Sheng Pu-erh and Shou Pu-erh varieties. Our 2015 Mountainside Shou from Yunnan, China will present you with the experience of charming robust energies that Pu-erh tea is renowned for.


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