I may get a little silly here with the description of the different kinds of tea. This is only my humble opinion, but what the heck, enough has been written by everyone else on the subject. They for the most part dutifully stay on the prescribed script.

There are four main types of tea, which are white, green, oolong, and black. However the leaves of each kind of tea all come from the same Camellia sinensis tea plant, it’s the processing of the leaves that determine their “color”. The chart diagrams the process of how tea is made… it may be helpful to know.

White tea is delicate, but it has a nice lingering flavor. I think it has a “back to its roots” appeal. It has an airy aroma that actively infuses with the air above the cup. When I think of an illustration of a cup of tea and little “wispies” are shown coming out of the cup, I think of a white tea. Generally a little fruity by nature, and this may be because the leaves are picked before they fully open and are still covered with tiny fuzzy whitish hairs for which the tea is named. If I were to hold this tea in my mouth I may think of: honey, dried wood, potato, apricot or peach.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of green tea. The flavor can range from the most delicate greenish mountain mist flavor to the most pungent, tasting like fresh cuttings from your lawn mover… very grassy. This one is so fun to explore and seek out its range. These flavors or scenes come to mind: chestnuts, melons, bamboo, vanilla, watercress or sorrel, ocean breeze, pine, and asparagus can be conjured up too. Don’t worry; the palate opens up to it!

Oolong tea could be considered between green and black. A sweet, floral, woody brew that consists of larger leaves. It’s not hard to find fragrant and intriguing tones of fresh flowers and fresh fruit. And hey some folks say it can help you lose weight and decrease wrinkles. Some teas have very brief aftertastes. Others, especially some oolongs, are known for aftertastes that can last for an hour or more. I would attribute some of these flavors: orchids, gardenias, lychee, plums, citrus, roasted barley, just-baked bread, minerals and rocks, clover and cut wildflower stems.

Black tea is the most drank tea in the world. It’s rich, and a mouthful! It has a distinctive earthy, even malty taste. You may want to drink it with milk, honey, sugar or lemon. Frankly it’s an overly processed tea most often… it’s a shame it gets bagged a lot. However if one really wants to do it justice…brew it by the whole leaf! In my chart I refer to what is traditionally called “fermentation”, but a better description is oxidation. During which water evaporates out of the leaf and the leaf absorbs more oxygen from the air. The results are the characteristic dark leaf, the typically more robust and pronounced flavors of black teas. Puerhs are aged black teas from China… very earthy! It’s strong but not bitter. Black tea tastes a bit like earth and mud, a day at the beach, metal, zest, grapes, beer, molasses, anise, jam. The aged teas get even darker, and taste like tar, leather, pecans, raisins, fallen leaves, and old-growth forests, and I have to dare to say Puerh smells like caves, or what I imagine caves to smell like.

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