In China, tea plants (Camellia sinensis) are subdivided into six different types: white, yellow, light green, green, red and black. In the West, green tea and light green tea are not distinguished: both are grouped as green tea. Green tea, in essence, is ‘unoxidised’ where no chemical change occurs because the tea leaves are prevented from fermenting.
Within the six types of tea there are many different varieties and grades. Chinese tea culture categorises tea in terms of the kind of leaf and the way the tea is prepared.
Like any other plant, the tea plant is influenced by many environmental factors. Where, how, how high, hot or cold the conditions are will affect the tea plant. Similar to grape vines in viticulture, terroir plays a key part in the development of flavour of the leaves. The clever not-so-little tea plant adjusts itself to its local soil and climate which then affects flavour. China has hundreds of types of tea plants although only 100 of these are regularly drunk- no other country has as many!
Sunshine, hot climate and fertile soil is the key to growing fruitful tea plants. They should also not be grown too near each other as they then tend to fight for soil and light. Every year tea farmers cut the plants three times to remove branches and force the plant to grow sideways. This encourages more branches and more leaves and allows farmers to pick more easily.
Picking of the Tea Leaves
In China, at harvest time the leaves are plucked by hand as there are different quality leaves on every single plant. Hand picking is very delicate and a monotonous process. Other countries use machinery but this process cannot identify and separate the different leaves and can only produce a tea of average quality.
In general, some Chinese green teas are extremely expensive while others not so much, even for the same kind of tea. The quality and price of the leaves is also dependent on the time of day the tea is picked. The best quality tea is picked at first light until 7.00am and also at sunset when the suns heat is not that strong. The seasons also affect the tea quality, spring produces the best leaves and as the months progress the quality falls.
Traditionally, and it is good practice, to not pick leaves during the autumn and winter months to let the plants revitalise. The best tea leaves are always the smallest and most delicate ones at the tip of the shoot. These make very expensive teas.
Processing Green Tea
To achieve top quality organic yield the top two leaves and the bud of the camellia sinensis plant are picked. Once carefully harvested, the leaves are then withered in net-covered frames to reduce their moisture. The leaves are then rolled between two metal plates, which break up the cells and releases their sap – giving organic green tea its unique colour and aroma.
Once rolled, the tea leaves are heated to stop the natural fermentation process. Chinese Green tea is typically pan roasted in giant woks. It’s this step that enables organic green tea leaves to retain their natural green colour, and gives them their flowery, tart taste. This is also the process that distinguishes organic green tea from organic black tea. Organic black tea is left to ferment completely, and organic oolong tea is allowed to ferment partially.
The final step in organic green tea production is the drying of the leaves. They’re placed on heated rotating discs, or in wooden drums to be dried by hot air. The leaves are ready when their moisture levels have reduced to three or four per cent.
Organic Green Teas
Here at Pure Tea we specialise in teas that are 100% organic. We are proud to offer some of the very finest organic teas including Organic Japanese and Organic Chinese Green teas and many more. All of our teas have been personally selected by our tea taster and being certified organic, you won’t find any pesticides or other synthetic additives. It allows you, as our customers to have complete trust in us to offer you delicious organic tea!
All of our organic teas come pure and are never blended or contain any artificial preservatives or flavourings. Our knowledgeable tea taster regularly monitors our teas for consistency, assessing flavour, aroma, colour in the cup and appearance of the leaves. You can be confident that your cup of teas from pure Tea will be first rate!
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