How the leaves are processed will determine their final classification as black, green, and oolong teas. The main difference between the many tea varieties is how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing.
- Much oxygen produces dark-colored black teas.
- Little oxygen results in green tea.
- Unprocessed leaves are called white tea.
Undergoes a full fermentation process composed of four basic steps - withering, rolling, fermenting, and firing (or drying). First, the plucked leaves are spread out to wither. The withered leaves are then rolled, in order to release the chemicals within the leaf that are essential to its final color and flavor. The rolled leaves are spread out once more to absorb oxygen (oxidize), causing the leaves to turn from green to coppery red. Finally, the oxidized leaves are fired in order to arrest fermentation, turning the leaf black and giving it the recognizable tea scent.
is often referred to as "unfermented" tea. The freshly picked leaves are allowed to dry, then are heat-treated to stop any fermentation (also referred to as oxidation). In China, traditional hand-making methods are still employed in many places, particularly in the manufacture of the finest green teas you'll find offered here.
is generally referred to as "semi-fermented" tea and is principally manufactured in China and Taiwan (often called Formosa, its old Dutch name). For the manufacture of oolongs, the leaves are wilted in direct sunlight, then shaken in bamboo baskets to lightly bruise the edges. Next, the leaves are spread out to dry until the surface of the leaf turns slightly yellow. Oolongs are always whole leaf teas, never broken by rolling. The least fermented of oolong teas, almost green in appearance, is called Pouchong.
is produced on a very limited scale in China and India. It is the least processed of its many varieties. The new tea buds are plucked before they open and simply allowed to dry. The curled-up buds have a silvery appearance and produce a pale and very delicate cup of tea. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual white teas.
is created when the additional flavorings are mixed with the leaf as a final stage before the tea is packed. For Jasmine tea, whole jasmine blossoms are added to green or oolong tea. Fruit-flavored teas are generally made by combining a fruit's essential oils with black tea from China or Sri Lanka. We invite you to view photos and descriptions of individual flavored teas.