The Colours of Tea by LINDA GARSON photography by CORY KNIBUTAT
There are over 3,000 varieties of Tea. It is the most widely consumed drink across the world after water. One of my hopes and predictions - for 2014 in Calgary, is that we’ll gain a better understanding, and therefore a great appreciation of quality tea. As a tea junkie myself, I’m thrilled to see new tea shops springing up in our city,
White, green, black and oolong tea are all from the leaves and buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant, with differences arising from the growing conditions of soil, altitude and climate, as well as how they are processed.
Green Tea is most popular in China and Japan. The leaves are allowed to wither slightly after being picked, then oxidation is stopped by heating; pan-frying in China and steaming in Japan. When brewed at a lower temperature with less steeping time, green tea will develop caffeine but only 10-30% of that in coffee.
Oolong is slightly more oxidised than green tea, and usually the tea of choice for connoisseurs. It often goes through an additional process of shaking or bruising that releases distinctive flowery flavours. Oolong tea is often perceived as a slimming tea as it is thought to raise the metabolism.
Black Tea leaves are allowed to wither and are fully oxidised, losing moisture and absorbing oxygen. This blackens the leaves and develops caffeine and tannin, but also reduces antioxidants. When brewed correctly, black tea will have a robust flavour and higher caffeine content, around 50-65% of that in coffee.
offering us choices to take home and make ourselves as well as enjoying in the store.
White Tea can only be harvested a few weeks each year as it’s the young shoots of the plant. It is minimally processed, and not oxidized. This means it retains, and so is generally higher in, antioxidants and when steeped for a short time, doesn’t develop as much colour or caffeine.
Many thanks to The Tea Factory on 4th Street SW, for their teas, patience, knowledge and kind assistance with the photography for this article.
Rooibos is from the plant Aspalathus linearis and is traditional in South Africa. It is sometimes called ‘red tea’ or ‘red bush’. Rooibos is oxidised and prepared like black tea, but contains no caffeine. It has a full, smooth and slightly sweet flavour and is attributed with aiding digestion, some allergies and nervous tension.
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