With Coffee shops springing up all over the place offering everything from Expresso shots to Chocca Mocca Latte, it's easy to forget that this great nation was built on the once mighty cup of Tea! Despite this fact, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a good cup of Tea whilst out and about. This is largely because most Coffee shops now use Barrista equipment that serves water at 92 degrees Celsius, the perfect temperature for Coffee, but far too cold to brew a decent cup of Rosy Lee. The recent trend towards Coffee is largely due to profitability, rather than public demand. Coffee commands a higher price per cup, so commercially it's far more profitable than Tea. Shops are fitted with Coffee Barrista equipment and this equipment is also used for making tea, despite the fact it's not really suited. Thankfully we can all still enjoy a decent cup of Tea in the comfort of our own home, and with so many varieties to choose from, Tea has as least as much to offer as Coffee, if not more:
Produced exclusively in the Hunan, Anhui, and Sichuan Provinces of China, Yellow Tea is really very special. It's only produced in very small quantities. Yellow Tea is first Wok-fired, before being carefully packed into baskets that are surrounded by smouldering coals, and baked for up to a week. The Tea leaves are turned throughout the process. This produces a mellow sweet and smoky Tea that is a must for any true Tea connoisseur.
White tea is sweet and delicate, it's made by selecting only the youngest leaves and buds. These leaves and buds are then simply dried, with no additional processing. The name White Tea is derived from the white hairs on the unopened buds of the Tea plant. White Tea contains more antioxidants than any other type of Tea.
Black tea is more heavily oxidised than other types of Tea and can retain it's flavour for several years. Over ninety percent of Tea consumed in the west is Black Tea, with different methods of drying producing different varieties, including Lapsang souchong, which is dried over a pine fire. This process gives Lapsang souchong it's intense smoky flavour. Ceylon Tea is grown only at high altitudes, this produces a light golden brew which has a distinct flavour and aroma.
Ooolong is a traditional Chinese Tea that is available in a wide range of varieties, some are smokey, others are light and fruity. Oolong Tea is prepared slightly differently to other Tea's, first the leaves are spread out in withering troughs, cool air helps to reduce the water content of the leaves over around 12 hours. Next the leaves are rolled, this gives the leaves a curved appearance and bruising the leaves also triggers a reaction that causes them to oxidize, initiating the change from Green Tea to Black Tea. After the oxidisation process is complete, the tea leaves are pan fried and then baked to prevent further oxidisation from occurring. Oolong Tea is traditionally formed into long curly leaves.
Green Tea is fired and dried before any other processing takes place, this means that since the leaves are already dry before they are rolled and shaped, no oxidisation takes place. Jasmine is often added to Green Tea during the drying process to give it a fragrant aroma and impart flavour.
After processing, all Teas are graded according to size. This grading does not denote the quality of the finished Tea. Smaller grades deliver a far stronger flavour, while larger grades provide a mellow tasting Tea.