Historically, of Chinese origin, we all have our own preferences of how to brew our tea. While the English liked it with cream and a little sugar, the Indians gave the beverage their own spicy twist by boiling it with ginger, cardamom, bay leaf, and cinnamon in cow milk. There are numerous kinds of tea to try all over the world. However, in spite of the varied tastes and flavours, all tea comes from the basic tea plant Camellia Sinensis. The difference in the taste is fostered by widely varying growing conditions, processing methods, and brewing techniques. Here is a list of 10 teas you should definitely try if you are a tea lover. Even if you aren’t, here’s hoping the comprehensive list will tempt you to try out at least a few.
White tea – the youngest leaves are picked for this variety. They go through the least amount of processing, and are the freshest kind available as there is no time for oxidation. Brew it in warm water for best results, and drink the fragrant concoction without adding anything else to take away its subtle, mildly sweet flavour.
Oolong tea – the aroma of oolongs is most similar to fresh flowers and fruits.
Served commonly in Chinese restaurants, they are not as strong as black tea nor as subtle as green teas, but are somewhere in between. They undergo partial oxidation when the leaf is being picked from the stem, and retain a slight strength in their body after brewed.
Green tea – the tea leaves are very briefly allowed to wither after being dried, and are heated before being rolled. This lends a tiny bit of oxidation to the leaves and help bring out their natural flavour. They tend to have 10-30% caffeine content in them, and are said to help slimming.
Rose tea - this tisane or herbal tea is made by boiling dried rose leaves with black, green, or white tea, and is considered to have therapeutic as well as health benefits. For best results, consume mildly sweetened with honey. They possess a heavenly aroma.
Camomile tea – this tea is made using the fresh or dried flowers of the camomile plant. It helps reduce stress and can induce a restful sleep if consumed before bed. This tea is very popular in Mexico where it is referred to as manzanilla.
Spearmint tea – This is a herbal tea concocted by boiling spearmint, a species of mint, with the water and straining the mint leaves before soaking and straining the tea. This tea is supposed to help digestion and to calm the nerves during stressful times.
Black tea – the most widely known variety of tea. The leaves are highly oxidised and the caffeine content is the greatest in this kind of tea (50-60%). The tasting notes are bold, robust, and full-bodied. They are rolled and dark brown to black in colour depending on the strength of the tea.
Pu-erh tea – an aged, fermented tea from China. They come in dough like lumps and can be compressed into any shape desired. The caffeine content is drastically reduced in this type of tea, and they taste earthy and mellow. Some connoisseurs like to collect this tea, and currently, the most expensive aged tea is over 30 years old. This has been found to help in digestion, and recent medical research has found that it reduces cholesterol.
Lemon ginger tea – tea flavoured with lemon juice and ginger, your magic cure for sore throat and common cold.
Honey bush tea – known as ‘Heuningbos’ in Afrikaans, Honey bush is a South African plant with vibrant yellow flowers which smell strongly of honey. In some rural districts it used to be common practice to keep a kettle of honey bush tea infusing on the stove ready for drinking while it scented the whole house — unlike your regular tea made from Camellia sinensis, the herbal product does not swiftly spoil as it simmers in the water.
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