If you are living in the northern United States right now, you have probably had your fill of cold weather, ice and snow. Yes, it’s been pretty tough outside. But one great way to warm up after spending some time shoveling or walking in the cold is to have a cup of hot tea.
But when the kettle is on the boil and it’s time to reach into the cabinet for a tea bag, what type of tea do you choose? How much do you know about the different types of tea? About their tastes, origins and health benefits?
To find out more, take our short pop quiz, then find the answers and more great tea-related information in this excerpt from Colleen Patrick Goundreau’s book, “Color Me Vegan.”
1. True or false?
All tea comes from the same plant. The only difference is in the way the leaves are processed after harvesting.
2. What type of tea presents the most natural form of tea processed for consumption?
A.) White Tea
B.) Green tea
C.) Black tea
D.) Oolong tea
3. What type of oolong tea tends to have the darker roast and fruitier nature?
A.) Chinese oolong tea
B.) Taiwanese oolong tea
4. What type of tea generally has the highest caffeine content?
A.) Green tea
B.) Black tea
C.) Oolong tea
D.) All teas have the same caffeine content
5. True or false?
Tea and tisane are interchangeable terms for the same drink?
(see answers below)
[Answers: 1.) True, 2.) A, White Tea 3.) Chinese oolong 4.) C, Black tea] 5.) False
More on Tea from “Color Me Vegan”
Evidence about tea’s healthful properties is strong. Because the first people to study the relationship between tea and health were the Chinese and Japanese, they focused on the type of tea that they drink: green. Green tea indeed deserves its lofty reputation, but evidence is mounting that black and other color teas are just as healthful.
The thing to know about the different types of tea is that they call come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub or small tree indigenous to China but also grown in other parts of the world, including South America, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia.
The difference in teas just has to do with what they do to the leaves.
White tea represents the most natural form of teas processed for consumption. Steamed instead of air-dried to stop the oxidation process (which naturally begins occurring once the leaves are picked), white teas are plucked from the downy premature leaves of the white tea varietal and also include some buds. Picked just before the buds have opened, the tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds. Based on Western medical findings, white teas are reputed to be higher in antioxidants than green teas, and they’re extremely low in caffeine.
The next grade is green tea. Green teas have been pan -ired or steamed to retain their color and nutrients, and indeed, green teas have been found to be rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Reputed to increase concentration and prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and many types of cancer, green tea can taste sweet, nutty, buttery, smoky, marshy or floral, depending on the location and time of year the tea was picked.
Next you’ve got your oolong teas, which have been semi-oxidized and roasted, containing medium levels of caffeine. Clay teapots—called yixing (ee-SHING) teapots—and other accoutrements were developed by the Chinese and Taiwanese especially for these aromatic and complex teas. Chinese oolongs generally tend to have a darker roast and fruitier nature than Taiwanese oolongs, which are generally greener, with a more floral aroma.
Black teas are fully oxidized through an intense rolling or tearing process. They’re higher in caffeine content than greens and whites, but still moderate compared to coffee. Black teas are called red teas in China because the tea, when brewed, has red colored liquid. Black teas were not widely produced in China until the early 19th century.
I would be negligent if I didn’t mention a special type of tea you may not have heard of. It’s called pu-erh (poo-AIR). Pu-erh teas are aged for a number of years under humid conditions. They have an early aroma and a full-bodied flavor, increasing as they age. Pu-erhs come in many forms: loose leaf, compressed into any number of sizes, aged in baskets, bamboo stalks, aged in citrus rinds, and many other forms. Many Chinese drink this tea daily, multiple times a day, to reduce cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and aid digestion.
We tend to call anything “tea” that is made from leaves and steeped in a bag.Technically, however, if it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, it’s not “tea.” In other words, if dried flowers, herbs, seeds or roots (peppermint, camomile, rooibos, for instance) are infused in water, it’s what’s called a “tisane” and not a “tea.”
In Color Me Vegan, author and vegan extraordinaire Colleen Patrick-Goudreau brings an edible rainbow of plant-based cuisine to your kitchen table with 150 flavorful recipes designed to boost your health and perk up your palate.
With color as the guiding principle behind each section, Colleen shows vegetarians, vegans, and everyone in between exactly how phytonutrients—the most powerful, pigmented antioxidants on earth, found in everything from select fruits and vegetables, to grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—can be expertly incorporated into your meals for the greatest nutritional punch.
From the “Color Me Blue” chapter, for example, you’ll be treated to recipes such as:
—Radicchio Fennel Salad with Caper Dressing
—Chilled Blueberry Mango Soup
—Lavender-Roasted Purple Onions
—Eggplant with Dengaku (Sweet Miso) Sauce
—Purple Plum Pie with Crumble Topping
From sensational starters and salads, to filling mains and sides, to crave-worthy desserts—in every color—each recipe is not just a feast for your stomach, but a feast for your eyes as well! Check out more about the book at http://www.colormevegan.com.