Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Whether you drink tea with milk or without and whether you choose black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal tea or another variety, tea remains the first choice for a refreshing hot drink. Tea is not only a tasty, hydrating beverage – it also has physical and mental health benefits, such as protecting against cardiovascular diseases and dementia.
Many people see tea as an all-purpose drink, ideal for consuming alone or with meals. Tea is also a social drink, ideal for drinking with friends when you want to have a chat. In fact, in the UK, many people believe that most problems can be eased at least a little with a cup of tea! There is much debate over how to prepare a proper cup of tea, including whether to serve it from a teapot, whether to add milk and how much sugar, if any, should be added. This article will explore some of the most popular teas and discuss the ideal methods of preparing them.
Black tea is the most popular type of tea in the UK. The tea leaves used in the preparation of this type of tea experience a long process of oxidation after all the water content has been removed. Black teas are very dark and retain a slight reddish colour once milk is added. These also contain one of the highest levels of caffeine.
The process involved with preparing green tea includes dehydration, drying and the rolling of the leaves. Green teas are not fermented so their nutrients are retained, making green tea a highly beneficial drink. This tea is light green in colour and has a light, refreshing taste with a sharpness lacking in black teas. It is unusual to add milk to green tea and this tea is nearly always served alone without milk.
White tea is a delicate tea that is picked when the leaves are still closed and in a bud-shaped. The leaves are dehydrated but not fermented or subject to an oxidation process. The tea is called “white tea” because this is the colour of the young buds that are used to create the tea. White tea is very mild in flavour and does not need milk.
Red tea is made from leaves which undergo dehydration and drying process followed by a long fermentation process. The fermenting of red tea takes longer than fermenting of black tea to perfect the flavours. Red tea leaves are then put through a ripening process of up to a decade. This long preparation process ensures that red tea is very rich in flavour and rusty in colour.
Oolong tea or blue tea
Oolong tea, sometimes called blue tea, is a delicate tea with a floral aroma. This soft tea is created by a short oxidation process which creates its signature gentle scent and flavour. This esteemed tea is a favourite in China with tea shops always serving this as a highly popular variety.
Preparing the tea for drinking
In order to prepare your tea, firstly the tea leaves should be placed in a special tea kettle with enough space for them to move around freely. The purest water possible should be used because the salt content of water can affect the flavours of the tea. Ideally tea should be made with mineral water in order to keep the water at a high level of purity.
The water should be heated up but rarely boiled. The temperature of the water depends on the type of tea being brewed with the hottest water allowed for black tea and read tea, which should be 90 to 100 degrees C. Oolong tea should use water from 85 to 90 degrees C, white tea from 75 to 80 degrees C and green tea the lowest temperature at 65 to 85 degrees C.
The longer you leave the tea to brew, the stronger the flavour. A brewing time which is too long makes tea taste harsh due to the released tannins. White tea should be brewed the shortest time for 1-2 minutes, while black and red tea can take up to 3 minutes. It is always best to avoid adding sugar to tea as this obstructs the flavours.