The easiest way to sort teas is via their colour—but did you know that the majority of tea is simply the same leaf from the Camellia Sinensis plant oxidised to a different level?
Typical of breakfast teas and often mixed with milk and sugar, black tea is created on the highest side of the spectrum of oxidisation. It, alongside green tea, is the kind we are likely most familiar with here in Ireland. Variations include Assam (also known as Irish Breakfast Tea), Earl Grey, Darjeeling and the smoky and rich Lapsang Souchong which has its tea leaves dried over fires of pine wood. Black tea, as per most, contains caffeine, so try and avoid it too close to bedtime—however it does provide the benefit of alertness and energy, as well as containing antioxidants. An interesting note on black tea—it may inhibit your iron absorption due to the presence of tannins, so be wary if you struggle to keep your levels up!
This tea is also of the same plant as black tea—simply less oxidised. This leads to a milder flavour which can be more sharp than rich. Although the same plant, green tea offers more benefits than black due to the lowered fermentation in processing—it keeps the polyphenols that are lost in black tea, and these offer cardiac health benefits. It also contains caffeine alongside a flavonoid called catechin, and this combination has been shown to help increase the body’s metabolism! There is many variants of green tea, including Sencha (a loose leaf) and Matcha (a finely ground powder). Matcha is the more expensive as it is grown in almost complete darkness, a process which not only increases the caffeine level, but also the level of L-theanine, an incredible amino acid that promotes concentration and offers stress-busting properties.
White tea has its oxidisation process halted very quickly after being picked, and the leaves and bud are plucked while still young. This allows a much more delicate and light flavour than that of green tea or black tea—white tea pairs well with added fruity and floral hints. Although still containing caffeine, it does have a lower level of L-theanine (much lower in comparison to Matcha green tea) but an increase in the level of antioxidants! When it comes to fighting aging and free radicals in the body, white tea has the most benefits.
Red tea is actually not a true tea—it comes from the Aspalathus Linearis plant which is grown solely in South Africa. Also known as Rooibos tea, this nutty and rich brew is naturally caffeine free, preferred by many as it has not undergone the alterations and processing that decaffeinated tea has. It can be taken with milk, similar to black tea, and contains very low levels of tannins—therefore does not have the same effect on iron levels that black tea can have. This also means it cannot be overbrewed, making it a wonderful substitute for creating iced tea. It is rich in a different profile of antioxidants, and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Tisane (Herbal) Tea
Tisanes are infusions which are not true teas, and instead are categorized by what part of the plant they come from. They are caffeine free and can have single ingredients or complex blends. The flavours and benefits are vast and varied, but here are some of our favourites as well as their uses!
Leaf tisanes: Mint; refreshing, soothing, can increase focus and has antispasmodic properties.
Flower tisanes: Chamomile; calming, encourages relaxation.
Bark tisanes: Cinnamon; aromatic, can offer blood sugar balancing benefits.
Root tisanes: Ginger; wonderful for nausea, warming and spicy.
Fruit/berry tisane: Raspberry leaf; vitamin rich, and commonly taken in the final month of pregnancy to promote uterine health.
Seed/spice tisanes: Fennel; ideal digestive support, perfect after meals.
The history of tea spans thousands of years; it is rich, heavy and bold, like a strong cup of Lapsang Souchong tea. Tealeaves have sparked revolutions, forced a leader of colonising into compromising their gold standard, factored into tyrannical drug wars, and contributed to the rise and fall of economies and governments. China and other parts of East Asia have documented the use of tealeaves as far back as 1,500 BC (and they were likely brewed even prior to this) and China remains the largest producer of tea in the world, with a country in South Asia being another — India has been exporting tea in large amounts since its ‘introduction’ to the country.
A whole tapestry of the past is in every cup, and you can find your perfect hot drink in any of our stores or online at Evergreen!