Do all teas come from the same plant?

Do all teas come from the same plant?

Do all teas come from the same plant?

People often ask, "Does all tea come from the same plant?" Well, the answer is yes. The scientific name of the tea plant is Camellia Sinensis. Different categories of tea, like green tea, black tea, white tea, and oolong tea, come from the same plant. There are various factors that differentiate one tea from another. The differences are majorly or minorly observed in taste, aroma, and flavour. But before diving deep into this, let’s have a glimpse at the origin of tea.

The Origin of Tea: Tea first originated in China in 2750 BC. According to legend, an Emperor named Shen Nung was sitting in the shade of wild tea trees one day. He was boiling water to drink while a tea leaf got into the water and brewed. The Emperor drank the water and was impressed with the flavour and aroma of the herb. This is how the first tea is made. He later discovered the significant benefits of tea herbs and urged the natives of his kingdom to start a tea plantation.

The History: Primarily, tea has been consumed for its medicinal properties. It took almost 3000 years for tea to gain popularity in the Chinese community. In the 17th century, tea became very popular in China. The Britishers tested tea in the 17th century and started to appreciate this beverage for its benefits and taste. Tea was brought to India in the 19th century by the British. Initially, the reason to start the tea plantation in India was to counter the Chinese monopoly in the tea market. Later on, tea plantations gained importance and significance all over the world.

Tea enthusiasts frequently ask: If all teas come from the same plant, how does tea diversify? Well, the differences in the harvesting process—atmosphere, rainfall, soil condition, plantation, preservation, and withering—are the key factors for determining which kind of tea is going to be formed. Let’s explore what kinds of teas there are and how they are processed.

Green Tea: Green tea is often famous for its multiple health benefits and antioxidant properties. The tea has numerous benefits, from weight loss and immunity boosting to regulating heart health. Freshness is the USP of green tea. It comes from the drying process. Green tea leaves are unoxidized and pan fried. After the leaves are plucked, the unrolled, unoxidized leaves undergo the dry heat or pan-frying method.

After the initial heat, the leaves are rolled and shaped. Lack of oxidation is the reason for its leaves' ability to remain green.

Black Tea: The origins of black tea can be traced back to China. In the beginning, China had a monopoly on green tea. Even today, the majority of the Chinese population consumes green tea. In ancient China, the Chinese tea merchant used to face challenges while exporting green tea to neighbouring countries. Green tea is delicate by nature and can easily go bad due to an imbalance in temperature. In order to combat this problem, the Chinese merchants started roasting the leaves. The leaves were kept in the air to get oxidized. The oxidation process turned it black. Also, the oxidation process helps to reduce the bitterness and bless the leaves with sweetness. Isn’t it interesting?

White Tea: White tea is the least processed of the tea varieties. It is considered to be the most delicate form of tea. The buds and unfurled leaves are handpicked and dried naturally. The leaves have withered in the low temperatures for days. Sometimes, it withers under the moonlight so that broad sunlight doesn’t burn the leaves.

White tea is primarily consumed for its aroma, taste, and anti-oxidant health properties. The harvesting process might seem simple but is not at all easy. The white tea harvest needs extra care, a delicate handling process, and above all, fine craftsmanship.

Yellow Tea: If you are a true tea enthusiast and looking for a rare quality of tea, then you should definitely try yellow tea. It is the rarest of all types of tea and needs extra hard work, dedication, and pure craftsmanship to produce. The manufacturing process of yellow tea undergoes a similar process to that of green tea. But it is the wrapping process that gives the tea leaves a yellowish colour.

After the panning process, the tea leaves are wrapped in wet paper or cloth for some days. The tea leaves absorb the mellow flavour without a grassy odour as a result of the mild oxidation process. While brewing, the tea leaves transform into a mighty golden nectar.

Oolong Tea: Only 2–3% of the entire tea production is oolong tea. The manufacturing process of this tea stands between green tea and black tea. Unlike green tea, oolong tea is partially oxidized. In the process of making this tea, the tea leaves are slightly bruised and kept in sunlight to get partially oxidized. Due to this partial oxidation process, the tea becomes darker in colour. The more it is oxidized, the more it gets dark.

Dark Tea: People frequently confuse dark tea with black tea. But that is not correct. The manufacturing process of dark tea is closer to green tea than black tea.

But how does it get that dark colour? Initially, it follows a similar process as green tea manufacturing, then undergoes the fermentation process for a long time. Sometimes the tea leaves are fermented for years.

Pu-erh is one of the most common dark teas. This tea originated around 2000 years ago in the ancient Chinese province of Yunnan. Though the ideal temperature and climate are the initial factors for harvesting this kind of tea, the magic is in the fermentation, which makes it darker in flavour.

These are the six major types of tea, which are vastly manufactured around the globe. Words always get outnumbered while the discussion starts on tea and its diverse world. 

Tea is a delicate herb that needs utmost care and a gentle touch. Although climate, rainfall, and temperature are important factors for tea plantations, the post-plucking process determines taste, colour, and flavour. The discussion can be concluded as follows: though Camellia Sinensis is the mother of all teas, the craftsmanship of the tea harvester shapes the nature of the tea.