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After years of being a die-hard coffee drinker, I find myself more frequently enjoying tea these days than coffee. I still drink coffee when I’m away from the house but for the most part, at home I drink tea. Not tea brewed from tea bags but tea brewed from loose tea.

Personally, I wouldn’t thank you for bag tea, which is why I don’t usually order tea when I’m out anywhere. I’ve become quite attached to the richness and variety of the flavours of tea that are out there.

Tea bags have a reputation for being lessor quality tea, which explains why I never acquired a taste for it when I was younger. My mother drank it on a regular basis and tried to get us kids into it but I just couldn’t see the draw.

There are decaffeinated teas on the market. Having learned that the United States has approved both the use of carbon dioxide and ethyl acetate in the process of removing caffeine from black tea, I’ll have the caffeine thank you very much.

I’ve discovered that seeking out tea shoppes can be rather fun. Each tea shoppe has its’ own unique flavoured blends of tea in addition to the many kinds of tea available. Exploring the various blends is an adventure which never ends. I have to admit to having formed some favourites. Teaopia is a shoppe in the mall east of me. I rather enjoy their Dublin Creme black tea blend and their Creamy Nut oolong tea.

The Dublin Creme is my breakfast tea of choice. The blend is full bodied with the black tea and the added zip of coffee beans to start my day with, the creamy flavour lets me drink the tea my favourite way, clear. (no milk or sugar)

The Creamy Nut oolong is a tea I enjoy later in the day, usually when I need that 3pm pickup or am getting a bit of an urge to snack. The gentler flavour of the oolong combines with apple, caramel bits, almond pieces and mallow flavour to provide me with a sense of having something sweet without it being sweet.

I’ve also ordered tea online from the Tea Shop in Ottawa. (site is not online at the time of this writing) They send out samples of another type of tea along with your order which is really neat. That allows me to try something different and then decide if I like it.

Another site I’ve been recently exploring but haven’t yet place an order is Adagio Teas.  The shipping will be a bit more because they are a US based company but that would be no big deal if I really like their blends. The Adagio Teas site is fun to explore even without ordering. I may want to try out their custom blending feature, looks like fun.

Types of Tea

True tea originates from one type of evergreen bush, the Camellia Sinensis. Other teas are created from other sources like herbs but are not truly tea.  Where the tea bush is grown, time of year when the harvest takes place and the processing determines the types and flavour of the tea. The most common countries for growing tea is China, India, Japan and Sri Lanka.

The time of harvest and the processing methods determines the four major types of tea; white, green, oolong and black.

White Tea

White tea is picked before the leaf buds fully open and are still covered with fine silky hairs.  Only the top leaf and bud are picked from the tree. The buds are sun dried to produce some of the rarest and most expensive tea available. White tea is said to have three times more antioxidants than green or black tea.

I was given some white tea as a gift a few years ago. I very much enjoyed it, finding it to be a very mild tasting tea but refreshing. Another tea I’d be inclined to drink during the day rather than as a breakfast tea.

Green Tea

After the tea leaves are plucked and sorted, they are either steamed or pan fired. Green tea does not go through the oxidation (fermentation) process. Green tea does have less caffeine than black tea. The leaves are often rolled into different shapes before drying. Once the leaves are shaped, they are dried and packaged. This process retains many of the polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids that are associated with the health benefits of drinking green tea. Green tea also has HGCG; the most powerful antioxidant known. and can only be found in green tea.

I drink a lot of green tea, at any time of the day or night.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea falls somewhere between green tea and black tea in the amount of time the tea leaves are allowed to oxidize for less time than black.   The leaves can range from being almost black to dark green depending on when oxidation is stopped.  The longer the leaves are oxidized the closer to black tea they will become. Formosa Oolong is an Amber Oolong with a rich amber cup that is a little toasty tasting.) Se Chung leaves are not allowed to oxidize as long, so the leaves have a dark green appearance and produce a light yellow cup with hints of sweetness.

Black Tea

This is the most commonly found tea. This tea goes through the most processing. Black tea is allowed to oxidize which “ripens” the tea and creates a deep, rich, robust flavor with uniqueness based on the tea grower’s knowledge and skill. Once the leaves are picked they are left out in the sun to become slightly wilted.  The leaves are then rolled to break open their tissue.  The inner chemicals react with the air and begin to ferment.  During the fermentation, the leaves darken and change from green to red and finally to black.  After the fermenting is complete, the leaves are dried and them packaged.

As you can see, there is much to know about tea. Just for fun, I’ve started another blog called Tea Facts Galore to explore the world of tea. This article will appear over there at some point. Join me and enjoy.

Drop me a note, let me know your tea likes, dislikes or questions. Here or at the new blog.