Knowing about different tea types is the first step to start exploring “The world full of Flavor”.
In the past, most of the tea types in Vietnam is green tea. And because we dont have much kind back then, so people only know about these typical types such as Thai Nguyen tea, Lotus tea, Oolong tea…. However, we have got a lot more of tea types theseday. Many people have misunderstood or have wrong compare about them because they don’t know about their specimen. So we are here to show you how to classify them and help you prepare the knowledge before entering Tea world.
Oxidant level and classify tea types :
There are thousands of tea types in the world, but each one of them are made of one kind and only – tea tree Camellia sinensis. All the tea product is different due to different shape and chemical composition after processing.
5 steps to make the tea :
- Harvest: including buds, leaves and basic process.
- Wither: wither and soften the leaves.
- Crush: crush the leaves until cells is broken.
- Oxidant: we will discuss about this topic clearly later.
- Dry: make it into expected shape and dry.
Not all the tea types must go through this process. Some steps can be eliminated or must be done time to time.
The most important step is oxidant process. This is the key to classify tea types. Oxidant is a process that enzyme inside the leaves interact with Oxygen in the air when the leaf’s cell are all destroyed. The producer can make the process goes faster by chopping, cutting or crushing the tea leaves or make it slow by let it oxidant naturaly.
Tea’s flavor shaped by this proces. Depends on the oxidant level, tea are devided into 3 main types : Green tea (none oxidant), Black tea (fully oxidant) and Oolong tea (partly oxidant).
Most of the tea types in Vietnam are made of Green tea, especially Thai Nguyen green tea, Ha Giang Snow tea, Ancient tea…
Green tea are made by 4 steps: pick, wither, crush and then dry. To not let it be oxidant, right after the tea leaves are picked, the producer quickly wither it. And they immediately stop the oxidant process by stir-fried or steam it. The high temparature would kill enzymes that lives inside the tea’s cell.
Some types are added flavor/flower flavor and really famous in the South such as Jasmine tea, Lotus tea, Pandan Ginseng tea….(named after a flower’s name)
Cao Son Oolong is the most typical kind of Olong in Vietnam, that’s why people usually misunderstand that Olong is a kind of tea. It’s actually a group of tea (just like green tea or black tea). Oolong tea is include any types that has oxidant level from 8% to 80%. Moreover, oxidant level are shown by it’s color from golden to dark brown.
Oolong took longest time to make. It’s need to go through all 5 steps was mentioned above. Especially the oxidant step, it must be redo over and over again. After each crushing time, the tea leaves were let sitted, and crushes and sitted… Just like that for hours (or few day).
This process would help to keep all the smell and flavor remain. These flavor and smell are much complicate than green tea. The tea has a mild bitter flavor, rich taste of flower or fruit. Due to it’s rich taste, it especially suitable for a tea beginner.
Besides the famous Cao Son Oolong, you can also find some other special kind such as Ti Guan Yin, …
Ginseng Oolong Tea is mixed with other herbal such as ginseng power, liquorice….
Black tea must also go through 5 basic steps, but it’s completely oxidant. Every steps is continously done in 1 day. The tea has light brown to dark red color. Somes can have strongest flavor.
Not many people in Vietnam knows about black tea because it’s not so popular. But black tea is popular in Europe, India and usually in tea bag. It can be mixed with milk also.
Fresh Green Tea
The most traditional kind in Vietnam. Without going through any process, the tea is bitter, less flavor and use to be a refresher.
An unique kind in Japan. Can be used as an ingredients to make cake or drink. Matcha is made of buds that hidden in shadow before picked, then vacuum dried and crush into powder.
White tea is nearly not go through any process. It just simply picked and be put under the sun to naturally dry. But if the weather is not sunny, producer will dry it, but in very low heat. So, white tea are not curly like other kinds. Even though the dried-process can take few days, but all the cell are still remain. White tea has mild and light green color, elegant flavor. This tea is not popular in Vietnam.
Pu-erh tea is a whole new different art. Firstly, it was made just like green tea. But before the tea leaves dried, they press it into a different shape to keep in stock before use. Pu-erh tea will go through fermented process, not oxidant.
The process can be from few months to few years, depends on the individual kind.
They says that Pu-erh tea can be keep the longer the better. It has dark red color, erathly flavor.
In Vietnam, there are a lot of dried tea but not actually TEA because it was not made of Camellia Sinensis. They would just made to be a refresher such as Voi Tea, Vang Tea and Hibiscus Tea
Mixed Herbal Tea
It’s a mixture between herbals leaf and tea. It both have tea flavor (cafein, bitterness, good smell) and flavor of herbals such as lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, peppermint…etc… This this a trend that keeps growing right now, especially they can be put in tea bag for easier fushion. Tra Viet herbal tea is also this type.