The Colours of Tea

Green, black, white, smoked, semi-oxidised or flavoured tea: they all come from the same tree, the Camellia sinensis (literally "Camellia of China"), also known as the tea tree.

It is how the tea leaves are processed that determines the colour and type of tea produced and it is only the way they are processed and picked that can change their qualities.

Les couleurs du thé

Different stages:

1

Withering
Exposure to the sun for fifteen or so hours, to dry out and remove any moisture from the leaves. After picking, one tea leaf contains 75% moisture. This is reduced to 68% after the withering process.

2

Rolling
To make the tea leaves less bulky, the withered leaves are rolled in a machine. During this process the tea produced is tasteless as it is not yet concentrated.

3

Oxidation
This stage concerns only black and Oolong teas. The leaves are spread out in a humid room, between 25 to 30°C, for 30 to 90 minutes. Air must not be allowed to circulate in this room. The length of oxidation will depend on the quality of the leaves, the season, the region and the intensity of the desired colour.

4

Drying
The leaves are dried in hot air. This stage is essential as it is this process that allows the tea to keep for long periods. The tea should not be too dry, otherwise it will lose its body, the leaves are then dried in hot air.

Rooibos

Rooibos is not actually a tea as it is not derived from camellia sinensis (or tea tree). It therefore contains no theine. It comes from a shrub belonging to the same family as acacias, which grows exclusively in South Africa’s Cedarberg mountains, located to the north of the town Cape of Good Hope. Attempts have been made to cultivate rooibos in other countries with similar climates, but without success. It seems that the shrub requires a very specific climate and kind of sun to grow.

Rooibos

Mate

Mate s a plant that originates from Latin America where it is known as "Yerba Mate". This plant has been used for thousands of years by the people of Paraguay and Argentina who consume its leaves in the form of a herbal tea to ensure vitality and longevity. Mate is traditionally drunk in a calabash with a filtering pipe known as a bombilla, which allows the mate to be consumed with removing the leaves from the herbal tea. Mate has a strong social significance in some Latin American countries. Traditionally, the calabash is passed from hand to hand, because drinking mate is first and foremost an experience for sharing.

Mate
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