Tea Basics

Tea seems somewhat mystical to the American world, so maybe I can help clear it up.

Types of Tea

There are many types of tea, such as: green, oolong, black, pu’er, and many more.  These names represent the method of preparing the tea leaves when they are harvested.  The most notable differences are the roast and fermentation.  But, don’t let these names limit you, because many teas don’t go by these names.  Some teas are named by origin, such as Ceylon, and some are blends from leaves around the world.

My recommendation: taste different teas and find out what you like.  Every country grows, harvests, prepares, brews, and drinks a little differently.  Try them all!  But, I’m going to focus on Taiwanese tea.

Harvesting Taiwanese Tea

Taiwan typically grows tea high in the mountains, which adds a nice sweetness to the flavor.  They take special care to reduce the bitterness with a complicated drying process.  The leaves are picked in groups of 3 and remain as one large stem, but you might not see it until they expand while brewing.  Because of their delicate methods, one of Taiwan’s specialties is the lighter-style oolong tea grown in the high mountains.

Drinking Taiwanese Tea

A good quality Taiwanese tea can conveniently be added to your coffee mug and soak all day long without making a terrible flavor.  Other styles, like some small leaf teas in China, must be brewed properly, otherwise the flavor turns into an overwhelming bitterness.

Typically, Taiwanese tea is prepared at a table with friends or guests.  It’s brewed in a small pot for about 1 minute and served in small cups.  Tea is continually being brewed by the host and served to the guests.  It’s a great experience and I suggest you try it with your friends.  You can also try it with us and taste some new teas!

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