WHAT IS TEA ?
The Chinese are thought to have once produced 8,000 different
types of teas - all from a single plant species. Even today,
all true “tea” comes from the same plant, the famed
Camellia sinensis. The notion that the same leaf can produce
such strikingly different liquors is bewildering, especially when
one recalls the fresh, vegetal taste of a Japanese green sencha
as compared to a hearty Assam or Ceylon.
Just as with wine grapes, there are many factors that determine
the characteristics of the final product. Black teas produced in
China differ in flavor from those produced in India, and those of
Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) have yet another character. The unique
character of a tea – the quality, taste and aroma –
is governed by climatic and soil conditions, as well as altitude,
time of picking, and manufacturing expertise. Yet the basic manufacturing
process is what determines whether the tea will be “green”
The manufacturing process is the series of procedures that determines
the shape and flavor of a batch of tea leaves. The process includes
and, in some cases, fermentation.
At one time, all processing of tea was done by hand in a carefully
executed series of stages first developed by the Chinese. Today,
far fewer teas are handmade;
instead, machines carry out the majority of the manufacturing