Category: Other

There are two misconceptions about tea that are pet hates of mine:
(1) White tea is just tea that has milk in it.
(2) Green tea is a super healthy version of tea that is good for you, unlike “normal” tea.

I could talk through these two separately but actually I think I may as well talk through them both together as they both boil down to more or less the same thing: there are different types of tea but they all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis.  Every time I think I’ve found every type, I come across a new one, but these types include:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • Pu Erh
  • Black

So, what are all these types?  Well, I’ll go through them in order.

  • White tea is where the young leaves and/or buds are picked, steamed and dried.  This tea has the highest level of nutrients.  It has a much milder and much less bitter flavour than other types of tea.  White tea is rarely drunk with milk in it.
  • Yellow tea is one of the rarest types of tea produced from buds and leaves.  They are rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Green tea is made from leaves that are panfried or steamed, then rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Oolong tea (sometimes known as blue tea) is not fully fermented, it is bruised by shaking, briefly oxidised and then panfried/dried.
  • Pu Erh tea goes through a natural fermentation process before being dried.
  • Black tea is rolled, fully oxidised and then fried/dried.  This has the lowest level of nutrients, although some of the research papers I’ve looked at suggest that the difference in the level of nutrients between types isn’t that big (although it’s really not my area of research but if you want a list of references for interesting papers, do ask).

So, incase you’ve got to the end of that and wondered how that answers the question at all.  White tea is not black tea with milk in it, it’s tea made from the same plant but made in a different way and using young leaves and/or buds instead of older leaves.  Also, although Green tea does have a higher level of nutrients and other Good Things than Black tea, White tea has even more (and in my opinion tends to tastes better!) and there isn’t anything particularly magical about Green tea, all types of tea come from the same plant.


Decaffeinating tea

If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ll have had times (for me pretty much every late afternoon/evening) where you really want a nice cup of tea but if you have too much caffeine you know you won’t sleep that night.  However, if you’re a fan of more unusual loose teas, you may, like me, find the selection of decaffeinated teas that you can find in the shops a little bit too restrictive.  I mean, just because you don’t want the caffeine doesn’t mean you don’t want a particular cup of tea.

So, what about decaffeinating the tea you already have?  Well, it turns out it’s surprisingly easy, which is good news for those of us that sometimes (or always!) want less caffeine in our tea.  This is probably a good time to point out that decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free, but it is much lower in caffeine.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Pour on the water.
2. Wait for approximately 20-60 seconds (the advise varies and probably depends on the tea).
3. Pour off that water and pour new water on, in the process you will should get rid of about 80% of the caffeine.

If you want more information on this I suggest looking at:
* Wikipedia
*  Heaven of Tea
* Wise geek
* Tea time garden

Tea timer

Twinings tea timerI have always loved sand timers, I don’t know why, there’s just always been something about them that’s really appealed to me.  I’m also forever putting my tea in my mug or teapot and then a while later realising I was part way through making a cup of tea and having no idea when I put the tea in.  So when I saw this tea timer in the Twinings Tea Shop in Strand I got very excited, which resulted in it being bought for me as a present :).

The white sand timer is for white tea, the black sand is for black tea and the green sand is for both green tea and infusions.  The times are generally very good but some teas need a shorter or longer times so it’s generally worth checking for each tea, although the times seem to be right for most teas.  I’ve only found one tea so far that’s noticeably different from the time this tea timer gives and that was a white tea with a particularly short brewing time.