Everyone is shocked when they learn I am not a coffee drinker. I think that my Colombian heritage does not help much with the shock. It is not that I don’t enjoy coffee, but I am simply quite enamored by tea. When I was a little girl, my Abuelita used to make me tea (actually a “tisane” from chamomile flowers she would buy at the galeria. There was something so special about a beverage made with flowers and sweetened by honey. Now, I am a complete tea addict. I go from inexpensive commercial teas to some pricey ones when I’m feeling indulgent. Either way, there are few pleasures as nice as having a cup of tea to close up an evening. If you’re not a fan of tea, give them a try. I think once you find the flavor profile that fits your palate you will become as much of a fan as I am.
Black: I hate to give genders to my teas, but many people tend to describe black teas as “manly”. I prefer to call them bold and powerful. The leaves of black teas are fermented. In black teas, larger leaves take longer to brew; which is the reason why you very frequently see smaller leaves.
Souchong: Large leaves
Pekoe: Medium leaves
Orange Pekoe: Small leaves (nothing to do with orange taste)
Broken: The smallest and strongest brew. This is the most common.
Flavored/Blends: Blended teas can be flavored with oils, flowers and herbs. This includes your cinnamon teas and even the ever popular (and one of my favorites) Earl Grey (which also happens to fit into the black tea category).
Green: While it’s called green, I’ve noticed the majority are closer to yellow. Unlike black, the leaves are not fermented here. The flavor of green tea is laced with a pleasant bitterness. There are also names for the sizes of the leaves here:
Hyson: Large leaves
Imperial: Medium leaves
Gunpowder: Smallest leaves
Oolong: This one fits right in between black and green tea. The leaves are only partially fermented. Jasmine is a common flavor in Oolong teas. While these are also named by leaf size; just like wine, Oolong teas are marked by appellation (place of origin). Places of origin include Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling.
If you’re going to talk about tea, you will need to learn and understand some basic terms. Let’s get started:
Aroma: The simplest of the terms, think of this as the tea’s smell.
Astringency: This is often confused for bitterness. This is more of a feeling of dryness which can be pleasant and refreshing.
Body: How does the tea feel on your tongue. Is it light or silky?
Tomorrow’s post will be on tea flavor profiles…stay tuned.