Understanding The World of Tea

Is Oolong tea a kind of green tea? Is Long Jing a kind of tea or a brand?  Which one does what for you? These questions have been on my brain longer than my stay here in China (since 2005). After all, tea is the most consumed drink in the world after water. There are certainly more than a few reasons for that! After discussing the specifics with Chinese friends, tea aficionados, and tea shop owners, I can safely say that the mystery around tea is not so complicated after all. Let’s start generally and get more specific as we go along!

One Plant: All (leaf) tea comes from the same species of plant. Just like apples all come from apple trees… Varieties exist among all species and those varieties include:  Green, Oolong, Black, White, Yellow,and Pu’er. Processing and growing techniques are other ways that teas get their distinctive colors, flavors, and characteristics. For specifics on processing, check out the image on the right. The following disambiguations are listed from lighter to darker tea varieties.


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Tea or Coffee?

Coffee or Tea
Coffee or Tea

Are you a zombie without coffee most mornings? When I was studying business at SNHU, I used to be too. I craved coffee with milk and some sugar. For some reason, I crave tea now. Its the flavor I guess. It’s not so harsh that you need milk to “smooth” it out.

Learning to enjoy drinking tea is like learning how to enjoy beer. When I was a teenager I truly thought that beer was someone’s clever idea of making me drink skunk pee. (And charging me for it!) Over time, we mature enough to really “appreciate” beer, wine, liquor, etc. Tea is no different, but it is actually BETTER for you and there is more Caffeine than coffee. (You can decaffeinate tea by steeping the leaves well and draining first.)

By the way, I suggest using real tea leaves instead of bag-tea. You know those felt bags, thread, and staple were manufactured cheaply in a factory somewhere in the world and probably aren’t very healthy. Quality, loose leaf tea will sink to the bottom of a glass, so there’s no need to worry about spitting bits of leaves everywhere. (Enjoy Responsibly!)