All over the world many people choose tea as their favorite drink. Whether green tea, china tea or black tea, water is the only thing we drink more of. There are over a thousand varieties of different teas from more than thirty countries, which means there are flavors and characters for everyone’s palate. It would take a lifetime to explore the varied tastes, scents and colors of all the tea in the world.
Camellia sinensis is the plant that both green and black tea comes from, but the varying flavors come from the method of treating the leaves once they’re picked. With green tea the drying process is a relatively simple process, and for black tea the leaves are oxidised before being dried. The oxidation process gives a higher caffeine level as well as a stronger taste, and means the tea can also be stored dry for several years and retain flavor. Most of the tea drunk in the West is black tea, and is most likely the type you drink everyday.
The area or province where the tea is grown usually determines the name of the tea. Flavor is affected by differences in soil, climate and landscape, giving teas from different regions distinct characters. The Chinese have been growing and drinking tea for more than five thousand years, and a large part of the world’s tea is still grown in China. Now you can buy varieties of tea from Nepal, Turkey and South America as well as more well-known tea producing countries like India and Africa. Below is a sample of some of the more famous black teas:
The best known china tea is probably Lapsang Souchong. Lapsang is dried over pine wood fires and retains a singular smoky taste from the process. Another well known tea is Yunnan, which is grown in the south of China. It’s rich and malty taste goes well with milk. Keemun takes great care and skill to produce – the leaves are dried without breaking. The tea has a rich tan color and a slightly nutty flavor.
Assam is the most famous Indian tea, a strong tea with a malty and full bodied taste. ‘Breakfast’ tea is often Assam, as it’s a good choice to wake you up in the morning. From the foothills of the Himalayas comes Darjeeling, often called the ‘champagne’ of teas – it has a delicate taste. Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka is known for having a clean and bright flavor. Tea can be grown all year round because of the unique climate in Sri Lanka.
Countries like Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe now produce around a third of the world’s tea. Teas from Kenya are described as bright and colorful, and have a pleasant taste. Africa has been growing tea for only around a hundred years, but because of the good climate and new technology, produces tea of such consistent quality that African tea is added to many of the most popular blends today.
Corinne Waldon is an experienced author who writes articles about tea for The Tea Spot.