Tea 101

Learn about the world of Tea

The Process of Bush to Cup

  • Cultivation

    The best teas are grown at high altitude where the stress of the environment cause the plant to produce leaves high in nutrients and flavour

  • Plucking

    The tea pickers are key in the early process, they hand pluck the top two leaves and unopened bud this flush of leaf will then re-grow every 7-10 days and be re-picked. The picked leaves are transported to the factory for processing

  • Withering

    At the factory the leaves are laid out and exposed to air which helps soften them ready for

  • Rolling

    The leaves are then rolled sometimes by hand which can allow for different shapes such as twisting and long/flat

  • Oxidation

    The rolled leaves are then exposed in a chamber to air which changes the composition and therefore taste of the leaves. Length of oxidation depends on the type of tea that is needed to be produced as some green teas are not oxidized at all

  • Firing/ Steaming

    The oxidation is stopped by brief heating this is where characteristics can be introduced such as smokiness

  • Drying

    To prevent further change the leaves are then dried and sorted by shaking to remove stems etc, the dust from this process is usually used for tea bags


Health Benefits of Tea

Tea has been used and favoured for its medicinal and healing properties for thousands of year but it is only within the last 20 years where research has been conducted into its effects.

Polyephenols & Flavanoids found in tea help prevent free radicals from damaging DNA.


Types of Tea

Universitea with New forest Tea company ethically sourced premium tea

Black Tea

Although not popular in the east, black tea suits the western palate more and is derived from two main varieties of plant, Camellia Sinensis subsp Sinensis (the Chinese, small leave variety) and the Camellia Sinsensis subsp. Assamica.

Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea

The halfway house between black and green tea, a largely unknown tea in the west, oolong is a semi-oxidised tea with a taste more like green tea but with more depth. The name Oolong means “Black Dragon” and its flavour is characterized by a slight bitterness leading to a sweeter aftertaste. Oolong is processed in two ways some are rolled into long curly leaves whilst others are pressed into ball like forms.

Green Tea

Green Tea

Fast becoming a popular tea form in the west, green tea undergoes minimal oxidation and is widely hailed for its health benefits due to high levels of antioxidant. Unlike black tea, you should never use boiling water on green tea, this also applies to white tea and oolong as the water will burn the leaf and give a sharp almost metallic flavour. Preparation time is also key, in Asia some steep there green tea for no longer than a minute and the lovely thing is that you can use the same leaves for a second or even third pot!

The fruity One Fruit Tea

Herbal/ Tisanes Tea

Many tea connoisseurs would argue these are not actually teas as they do not contain any Camellia, however they have a loyal following in the tea world with teas such as the South African Rooibos or Redbush showing increasing popularity.

White tea

White Tea

White tea is very different from other types of tea, it is picked from a varietal called Narcissus or chaicha. Secondly the leaves are not steamed, fried or fermented. They are naturally withered in the sun and most importantly only the two top leaves wrapped around a newly developing bud are used.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh is a tea in its own class. Many would say it is the marmite of the tea world but for connoisseurs this is a must in any collection. The Pu-erh you are trying has been aged for 5 years under natural condition which gives it its distinctive colour and flavor notes. Some Pu-erhs are aged for 10 years plus and fetch us much as 10,000 per kg! this tea can be cultivated from plantation or wild bushes but most is plantation produced.

Top Tea Facts!

The legend of tea is discussed and challenged even today but the story of how tea was first found is as enchanting as the drink itself. Legend has it that in 2737bc the Emperor Of China – Shen Nung was waiting for a bowl of hot water to cool when a few leaves fell from a nearby tree into the water and began to change its colour. Intrigued, the emperor took a sip and was captivated by its flavour!

Tea only reached our shores around 1660, around 8 years after the first coffee house had been established and we have one lady to thank Catherine of Braganza the future wife of Charles II

The early imports and price of tea to England were so expensive that it really was the reserve of the rich but also led to a huge problem with smuggling for illegal gains

The only way to end the days of tea smuggling was to reduce the tax on tea which in 1784 stood at 119% and make it more readily available and this was enacted by William Pitt the younger who became prime minister in 1783. Overnight tea became accessible to the middle classes and began to take root in the whole English conscience.

It is however what tea did for England that is so interesting, initially tea could only be brought in from China but such was the cost in bullion that with the East India Companies instigation new areas were sought to try and grow tea for the empire and India was the key. After many aborted attempts and some truly amazing feats by men such as Robert Newton the first crop of Indian tea was produced.

All the worlds’ tea is derived from one plant, the Camelia Sinensis. Although it has many varietals such as the famed Assamica, the bush itself is the only plant that produces authentic tea leaves. A tea bush matures after 5 year and then will produce leafs at varying intervals or year round depending again on its varietal and care. A normal tea bush will produce tea for up to 30 years if well tended but there are some ancient tea bushes which are revered in Asia for the tea they still produce today.

Conditions for tea are also very important, with factors such as altitude, temperature and soil type playing key roles.