TERMS TO KNOW ABOUT TEA
OXIDATION is when the tea leaf is bruised or broken so that the juices containing poly-phenol oxidase can react to the oxygen in the air. Usually this is done in an environment with a controlled temperature and humidity. The longer a tea is oxidized the darker it becomes.
WITHERING occurs when the leaves are allowed to sit in warm air causing them to wilt.
SORTING is when tea is separated out into different grades based on on the size of pieces, quantity of leaf buds used and the color of the finished product.
BUDS are young leaf shoots that have not yet opened, they typically have fine hairs that make the dried leaf have a pale grey appearance. Buds must be carefully picked by hand during the spring so are a prized component of tea making.
AGED AND DARK TEAS
Also know as puerh, these teas are usually created by drying freshly picked leaves, then encouraging fermentation. Traditional aged teas ferment slowly and develop their flavors over many years.
Dark teas undergo a faster fermentation process and don’t develop more flavors over time. These teas are often pressed into bricks or other shapes.
Tisanes are steeped beverages made with ingredients that are not from the tea plant. These ingredients are typically harvested and gently dried and include things like: rooibos, flowers, fruits, herbs, and spices.
Tea leaves that are destined to be oolong are sometimes withered, then they are either rolled or crushed and oxidized about 50% before being dried. Green-style oolongs tend to be oxidized less and steamed or pan fired and darker-style oolongs tend to be oxidized more.
White tea is often made from tea buds that have fine white hairs giving the tea a pale grey appearance. The least processed of all the tea varieties, the leaves are sometimes withered, but rarely oxidized. They are dried in the sun or at very low temperatures in hot air chambers.