I have experienced this type of tea both on my own time and in my studies, but it’s not a favorite type for Ms. Tea. I have a feeling that I will spend more time with these great brews in the future as I find the process of creating dark teas fascinating. It is also the only type which has a fermentation process included in the creation of the tea. It’s also the only type of tea which can be collected and stored to become better over time just like a fine bottle of wine.
A large component of this category are Pu-erh teas and they come in all forms and shapes. Normally seen as little cakes or bird’s nests they have their own way of being brewed.
Some call it an ‘acquired’ taste, but several times I was able to prepare the most amazing tasting cup of tea. This tea benefits from multiple infusions similar to Oolongs and it is also advisable to use a Yixing clay tea pot to get the best results. Normally the first infusion or even infusions gets discarded to wash the tea and to wake up the leaves. I have also seen some exact opposite reports claiming that the first, unwashed infusion is the best and the purest. Some teas can give more than 30 infusions! I have read stories from tea houses that people gave up drinking but the tea leaves would still give flavor even after 30+ infusions!
This type of tea is still fairly rare and is treated like gold in our family. Almost completely unknown to the western world just a few years ago it is now gaining more popularity and more types are making it into the stores.
What makes Yellow teas different than Green teas is an additional step in the processing called sweltering. The leaves get a nice cozy wrap, normally some sort of cloth, which gives them the unique yellow color. The result is a tea which is more mellow and less vegetal that some of the green teas. It has an amazing rounded and balanced fruit flavor with an amazing mouth feel. There are very few true yellow tea masters left who know the process of making this kind of tea so there is the risk that this art might disappear.
Green Teas are becoming more and more popular in the world and the varieties seem endless.
Almost every tea producing country is now producing a special green tea and the market is growing more and more. Green teas are more processed than white teas and have some oxidation in the processing.
After a withering process, leaves are fired to stop the oxidation and to retain the green color in the leaf. There are two main processes to accomplish this and it results in different types of green tea. Most green teas in China are pan fired before they are further processed. Green teas in Japan are steamed, very similar to what we do in the kitchen with broccoli and spinach. The result is a different texture and flavor.
Now this is not an attempt of hidden product placement, it is more an attempt to pay tribute and respect to the one tea company which ignited my tea passion and put me onto the road I am on right now (no worries – I am not getting any commission for writing this…).
The company I am referring to is tea retailer Twinings. When I was living in Germany, I was well before the point when I started my tea journey. Yes I admit, I was a tea bag dunker and certainly the shelves of supermarkets are full of all kinds of tea bag boxes. It was convenient and quick and I did not have anything to compare it to anyway as back then there was no ‘ loose leaf aisle’ for high quality teas.
Tasting tea is primarily based on three sensory elements: how we experience the tea on our taste buds and in our mouths, how the aroma enters our nose and how we experience the tea visually with our eyes. Rinse and Repeat.
During my studies one additional element came to my mind, which we seem to take for granted: sound. Most of you will say: what kind of nonsense, you cannot hear tea, tea does not speak to us.
Let’s Start With Some Tea Basics: My visit to Limuru, Kenya
What better way to introduce tea to you is then to show you. I had the tremendous opportunity a few weeks ago to visit the Limuru region just north of Nairobi, Kenya. My goal was to visit the Maraba tea factory, which specialized in CTC (Crush Tear Curl) Black Tea production. It’s basically what you find in tea bags and blends.
Even though tea bag tea is not my favorite, I got inspired by tea legend Mr. James Norwood Pratt, who said that we cannot snub tea bags and tea bag drinkers as a large number of people around the world use tea bags. They like it and it is convenient. I believe that describing this type of tea processing is a good starting point many of you are familiar with and we can only go up from here. In the coming months I will show you WHY loose leaf tea is better and tastier.