Tea has become such a broadly accepted term for brewed leaf or herbal matter. For many, our journey stops here. For the tea enthusiasts, there are thousands of years steeped in history. How tea has developed over time by different cultures, creating the huge array of teas that we have available today.
We want to take you on a journey to explore how a little more knowledge enriches the flavour profile of the tea you drink. We hope by the end of this article you drink your favourite tea with a new appreciation, or are inspired to try something new!
What is the difference between black tea & Herbal Tea
“Tea” technically only comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and includes four types; Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong Tea and White Tea. “Herbal tea” or “Tisanes” on the other hand, are infusions made from anything other than the leaves of the tea plant.
Herbal teas can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds, fruits and roots. Herbal teas have been used across cultures for many years as a form of herbal medicine, a method to extract the active constituents of plants for health and healing.
Tea and herbal teas are generally made by pouring boiling water (or near-to-boiling water for green, oolong and white tea) over the plant parts, letting them steep for a few minutes, straining and serving. While all “teas” come from the one Camellia sinensis plant, they all exhibit different qualities that have been determined by the way the tea leaves have been processed. The tea making process may involve a full oxidation (or fermentation) of the tea leaf, partial oxidation or no oxidation before it is dried and it is this that will determine the colour, flavour and characteristics of the tea.
What are the four basic types of tea?
White tea is derived from the young new leaves from the tea plant in early spring. They are young leaves that contain no chlorophyll and still have silvery white “hairs”, indicating new growth - hence the name “white” tea. The tightly rolled buds of the white tea are immediately fired or steamed after letting them wither (air dry) for a period of time so that they do not go through any oxidation. The Byron Bay Tea Company White tea is Pai Mu Tan- a light and refreshing tea that has sweet floral and nutty aromas to complement the smooth yet mild flavour, making this an enjoyable refreshment any time of the day. It has the highest level of antioxidants and the lowest amount of caffeine out of all the teas.
The processing of green tea is similar to white tea in that it does not go through any oxidation. After the leaves are plucked, they are sometimes laid out to dry. Then in order to neutralise the enzymes, thus preventing oxidation, the leaves are steamed or pan-fried. Next, the leaves are rolled up in various ways and tightness before further drying takes place. Organic Sencha Green is a large-leafed green tea and has a beautiful light green colour when steeped. It is light and refreshing with a brisk taste. We always recommend using near-to-boiling water to brew green tea to avoid any bitterness.
Green Tea Varieties
For those of you who don’t particularly like the taste of green tea but would like to experience the health benefits, some of our other green teas in our range that have been blended with other natural ingredients may be of interest, including-:
Jasmine - Green tea scented with Jasmine flowers.
Buddha’s Tears - These are hand-rolled green tea leaves that have been scented with Jasmine flowers.
Energy - Green tea and berries.
The processing of black tea requires a full oxidation of the leaves. After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out to dry for up to 24 hours. The leaves are then rolled in order to crack up the surface so that oxygen will react with enzymes and begin the oxidation process. The leaves are left to completely oxidise, thus turning the leaves to a deep black colour and for further drying to take place. Black tea naturally has a more robust and full-bodied flavour, is the highest in caffeine out of all the teas and can also be taken with milk. Our English Breakfast is a blend of two black teas from different regions - Assam and Ceylon. A high-grown Ceylon tea gives this blend a full flavour and a low-grown Assam gives it strength creating a perfect, robust brew to start your day!
Some other black teas in our range include-:
Earl Grey - This classically scented black tea has been blended with natural Bergamot Oil to produce a light, refreshing citrus flavour. A traditional afternoon tea with a twist.
Chai - This unique Chai blend is a fusion of traditions, combining Ceylon black tea with traditional Indian spices and some locally grown Australian ingredients. Aniseed Myrtle gives this chai an extra zing and roasted Wattleseed creates a rich and malty flavour.
Oolong Tea - The processing of Oolong tea is the most difficult as it is partially oxidised and somewhere in between green tea and black tea. After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out to dry for up to 24 hours. The leaves are then tossed into baskets in order to bruise the edges of the leaves. This bruising only causes the leaves to partially oxidise because only a portion of the enzymes is exposed to air. The leaves are then steamed in order to neutralise the enzymes and stop any oxidation before further drying takes place.
Our Oolong tea is Tie Guan Yin or Iron Goddess which is probably the best known Chinese high-grade Oolongs. A light, semi-fermented, whole-leaf tea that is low in caffeine, high in antioxidants and particularly beneficial around meal times. Revered in Asia for weight loss, this has a fresh, earthy flavour that carries a lingering aroma, as well as subtle undertones of florals and fruits.