All tea comes from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis. The tea plant is an evergreen bush (or sometimes a small tree). Its leaves and buds are picked, processed, and then brewed into tea. Camellia Sinensis is grown in multiple countries, but the styles and overall taste profiles of the teas vary regionally. Different growing methods, picking times, drying methods, oxidation levels, processing styles, and aging all control how different styles of teas are made and taste.
China is considered to be the birthplace of tea. China produces many different styles of tea that are grown and processed through different regions of the country. There are seven categories of Chinese Tea – green tea, red tea (what is usually called black tea in the US), white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, puerh tea, and black (or dark tea). Each of these categories contains teas that are grown and specifically processed in different regions of China.
Green Tea: Chinese green teas are unoxidized and often pan roasted, which results in fresh, vegetal, and nutty notes within the finished tea. Green teas are usually made from freshly picked, early spring buds.
White Tea: White tea, called bai cha, is lightly oxidized, which results in a subtle, slightly earthy, sweet tea. White teas can also be aged.
Red Tea: Red tea, or hong cha, is often called black tea in the western world (black tea refers to a separate category within Chinese tea). Red teas are full oxidized, which results in a sweet, robust taste within the finished tea.
Yellow Tea: Yellow teas are a bit more rare than other Chinese teas. They are produced similarly to green teas, but some oxidation is allowed to occur. This results in a sweet tasting tea with a yellowish liquor.
Oolong Tea: Oolong teas are semi-oxidized, meaning they lie somewhere between green and red tea. Oolong teas are processed at varying levels of oxidation – the lower the oxidation level, the lighter and more floral the tea is, the higher the oxidation level, the darker, sweeter, and more robust the tea tends to be. Oolong teas are also rolled dried and baked, depending on their specific style, which tends to bring out specific notes within the finished tea. There are multiple styles of oolong tea that are grown and produced in China and Taiwan.
Puerh Tea: Puerh tea is one of the most interesting, complicated, and unique styles of tea. Puerh is grown in the mountains of Yunnan Province. Different mountains produce teas with distinct flavor profiles. Puerh is unique because it is made from a larger leaf subspecies of the tea plant, called Camellia sinensis var. assamica. Puerh is known as fermented, or post-fermented tea, as microbial activity slowly ages and changes the tea over time. Unlike most teas, puerh is prized for its ability to improve with age. These teas are often compressed into cakes, bricks, and nested shapes prior to aging. These teas can be enjoyed fresh, or after a period of long-term aging. There are three categories of puerh – sheng, aged sheng, and shou. Each of these subcategories are all made from the same leaves – their processing and aging impact their final flavor profiles.
Sheng puerh, which is also known as raw puerh, is left to naturally age. Sheng Puerh is puerh that is fresh or a few years old. Sheng puerh is enjoyable as a fresh tea, but is sometimes a bit bitter and astringent. As the tea ages in proper storage, these profiles mellow and the teas continue to develop their flavor profiles.
Aged Sheng puerh is often considered to be raw puerh that has aged for at least five to ten years. This aging process, which is dependent upon storage method, changes the tea, often making the teas more mellow and less sharp. These teas also develop a fuller bodied taste profile. Much like wine, the older these teas get, the more expensive they often become. These teas can be aged for many years and still be drinkable.
Shou Puerh, also known as ripe or cooked puerh, is artificially fermented. This style is intended to mimic the aged qualities of sheng puerh, but in reality tastes much different. Shou puerh is made through a wet-piling process that accelerates the fermentation process and microbial activity. Because of this processing, these teas are often creamier in texture and taste upon brewing. Shou puerh is also known for its earthy flavor.
Black/Dark Tea: Black/Dark tea, called Hei Cha, is another unique category of Chinese tea. This category refers to other post-fermented teas that are processed in the wet-pile manor of shou puerh. Because these teas have been fully oxidized and fermentation has occurred, these teas are consider black tea – this is why red tea, which many in the western world call black tea, is considered to be an entirety different category of tea. Some dark/black teas include: Fu Zhuan cha, Liu Bao, and Liu An.
Teas in house:
- Mandarin Pu-erh桔子普洱
- Sheng Pu-erh生普洱
- Ripe Pu-erh 熟普洱
- Da Hong Pao 大红袍
- Ginger Oolong生姜乌龙
- Iron Buddha铁观音
- Shou Mei 寿眉
- White Peony 白牡丹 (OR, FT)
- Silver Needle & Chrysanthemum
- Silver Needle & Pearl Jasmine
- Coconut Envy
- Pearl Jasmine & Chrysanthemum
- Moroccan Mint (Organic)
- Jin Jun Mei 金骏眉
- Dian Hong 滇紅茶
- Silver Needle
- Gun Powder
- Pearl Jasmine
- Lapsang Souchong 拉普山小种
- Keemun 祁门红茶
- Dragon Well
Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that had been partially shade grown. This method of growing increases certain chemical compounds within the leaves that result in the final tea being quite sweet.
Sencha, unlike Gyokuro, is a fully sun grown tea. Sencha teas develop a majority of their flavor from the amount of time that they have been steamed. Sencha teas are categorized by these different levels of steaming, and by quality grade. These teas tend to be a little sharper and have delicate grassy notes.
Matcha which is a stone-ground powdered tea, is made from a type of tea called tencha. Tencha, like Gyokuro, is grown partially in the shade, but then steamed, dried, and processed to remove the stems and nerves from the leaves. These leaves are then stone – into a fine powdered that is then whisked with hot water to become matcha. The resulting tea is fresh, bright, vegetal, and sweet. Matcha has become increasingly popular recently, as it is very high in antioxidants
Hojicha is roasted instead of being steamed. The resulting tea is toasty with caramel-like flavors and aromas.
Genmaicha is a green tea that is blended with popped rice. The resulting tea has a blend of grassy, vegetal, and toasted flavors and aromas.
Teas in house:
- Mountain Grape
Many of the teas most people are familiar with have their origins in India. The tea plant was introduced to India in the 1800’s by the British to break the Chinese monopoly within the tea trade. Most Indian teas are made from the Assam tea plant – which is the larger leaf Camellia sinensis var. assamica, but others, such as Darjeeling teas, are made from the smaller leafed variety of Camellia sinensis. Indian teas are processed in similar ways as Chinese teas. They can be processed as black teas, green teas, white teas, and even oolong teas. The flavors of Indian Teas vary by growing region, but many of the teas have characteristic floral, sweet, muscatel flavors.
Teas in house:
- Lemongrass & Ginkgo (Organic)
- Assam (Organic)
- Darjeeling (Organic)
Taiwan produces multiple kinds of tea, but is most known for its oolong teas. Taiwanese tea is often grown in higher elevations, resulting in teas that are quite floral, delicate, and full of energy. Many of the processing techniques and methods applied to Taiwanese oolongs have been borrowed from Mainland China. Some of Taiwanese oolongs mimic some of the shapes, styles, baking, and roasting methods of Chinese oolongs, but take on completely different flavors than that of their Chinese counterparts.
Teas in house:
- Ali Shan 阿里山
- Subtropical Forest 文山包種茶
- Oriental Beauty東方美人
Kenyan tea can be processed as black tea, green tea, and white tea. Most Kenyan tea is processed in the CTC (crush, tear, curl) method, which allows the final tea to be comprised of smaller pieces, thus being more suitable for blends and rich, robust teas.
Teas in house:
Roji Tea Lounge sources directly from local across Upstate New York to growers to source high quality, organic herbs for use in our herbal tisanes and house blends. Here you will find a listing of what our region has to offer for your teacup, as well as additional information about the farms we source from seasonally.
Teas in house:
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