There are many different factors and processing steps that go into producing the finished tea we all enjoy. Here we briefly summarise
Leaf to Cup
All tea comes from the evergreen plant Camellia Sinensis. There are two main varieties, the camellia sinensis (var sinensis) and the Camellia Sinensis (var assamica.) The variety sinensis is a smaller leaf variety and grows well in cool misty climates in South East Asia. The Assamica variety is a slightly larger variety and thrives in the tropical regions of India, Sri Lanka and Africa.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT FLAVOUR
Similarly to wine tea has it’s own character and the flavours and aromas of finished tea can be affected by the different conditions in each region. These changing factors are know as Terroir (teh-wah) and include altitude, soil, local ecosystem and climate.
PRODUCING DIFFERENT TEAS
The process of tea production involves several steps, each of equal importance in the art of making tea. Not all teas go through the same processes, for example white tea has minimal processing whereas some Oolong teas require a skilled and rigorous oxidation process to extract the complex flavours. There are two main processing methods Orthodox and CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl). Orthodox is hand processed and minimally mechanised processing, which aims to preserve as much as the whole leaf as possible. CTC is fully mechanised and chops the tea into tiny grains which is used mainly for the tea bag market.
The world of tea grading can be a confusing one. There are a number of grading systems worldwide and they can vary from country to country. One mistake people make is in thinking that a higher graded leaf will be of better quality, this is not always the case and refers only to the size and shape of the leaf. Gradings include SFTGFOP (Special Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) a classification in the British/Indian Grading system and Extra choicest and Top Fancy for Green and Oolong tea. Tea for the tea bag market is graded as Fannings or Dust.