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Every Tea, One Plant.

Yes, you read that right. All teas come from one single plant - The Camellia Sinensis. Are you wondering how a simple tree can give green, black, oolong, white tea etc.? Well, it’s really simple. It all comes down to the plucking and processing of tea leaves.

Green tea is the least processed tea out of the lot. It is plucked just before sun rise, so that it does not wither too much. This helps maintain its moisture. It goes through some amount of processing - steaming, withering, pan-frying or roasting - to ensure that the flavors are locked in and the leaves retain their freshness for long.

The other teas - oolong, white and black tea are created by oxidizing the tea leaves. The amount of oxidation will define what tea the leaf will produce. White tea has the minimum oxidation while black tea is fully oxidized. Oxidation changed the flavor of tea leaves. That’s why green tea has a fresh vegetal aroma whereas black tea is more brisk and robust.

Interesting, isn’t it, how one plant can give a range of flavors - from grassy to floral, fruity and astringent? Apart from the processing, flavors are also impacted by the region and climate that the plants go in. The beautiful tea leaves are hygroscopic. They can absorb the flavor of the environment in which they grow. For example, the Darjeeling Second Flush carries a muscatel flavor since it is picked after the first rains have hit the estates. The rains bring out a fruity-tartness in the air, giving this tea a wine-like flavor. On the other hand, Pi Lo Chun, a green tea from China has the flavor of apricots and peaches because the estates are surrounded by these fruit-bearing plants. Most teas from Japan carry a vegetal flavor laced with seaweed owing to the climatic conditions in Japan.

Over the years tea and its versatility has inspired several poets and artists. It is said that this beverage can awaken the soul and stir your senses. Try a cup, and experience the enchantment yourself.

Priti Chaturvedi

Social Media Blogger. Tea enthusiast since the age of 10.