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The Brew Journal


Getting to Know - Teas and Tisanes

Welcome to part two of our Getting to Know series! Today, we talk briefly about the history of tea, what tea is and the tea types.

Where did tea come from?

Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water? Tea has been around for thousands of years and plays great significance in many world cultures. There are many legends about how tea was discovered, but no concrete historical evidence. However, we can agree that tea did originate from China. You can watch one of my favourite videos about the history of tea from TED-Ed:

What is tea?

All tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen plant that grows in parts of the world such as India, China, Sri Lanka and Japan. There are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis - Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and Camellia sinensis var. assamica. Both variants produce teas of very different tastes.

Teas can be made from any part of the tea plant. Most of the tea we drink today comes from the leaves of the plant, however, the buds and twigs can also be brewed for a delicious cup.

What are the types of tea?

To be completely accurate, there are only 6 types of pure teas - white, yellow, green, oolong, black and post-fermented tea. What makes each tea different is the way the leaves are processed. We can categorise each tea type based on their levels of oxidation and the process of which they are made (as seen in infographic). Over 3,000 varieties of teas can be made from just these 6 types of teas!

What about herbal teas?

Herbal teas, or tisanes, are not true teas in the sense that they do not contain any part of the Camellia sinensis plant. Popular tisanes such as peppermint, chamomile and rooibos are infusions made with herbs and plants. Many are touted for their therapeutic properties and have been used by traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Common uses for tisanes include remedies for insomnia, detoxification and the treating of cold and flu symptoms. All tisanes, excluding yerba mate, are also caffeine-free, which make them the perfect beverage to sip on all day.

In the next few blog posts, we'll explore each type of tea in more detail and hopefully, you'll have a greater appreciation for this versatile plant!


Till next time,