For years, I never knew that white, green and black tea all came from the same plant! I thought that they grew three types of plants, in order to provide tea lovers with the different tea varieties! And I was amazed to learn that tea comes from a bush that is a cousin to the Camellia plant, Camellia japonica regularly found growing in gardens around the world! It wasn’t until I began my Crazy Tea Lady journey, that I began to discover some amazing facts about my favourite beverage!
The tea tree is an evergreen that grows to a height of 5 to 15 metres. Its leaves measure between 5mm and 25cms are characterized by a shiny upper surface, with a lighter matt underside. The plant is cultivated, not for its fruit or seeds, but for the bud and two new leaves below it. The bud and new leaves are plucked regularly, making up the harvest.
There are two main varieties:
- Camellia senensis sinensis
- Camellia senensis assamica
They are mostly grown between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The plant itself requires temperatures of 10-30 degrees centigrade, and 1000-1250mm rain per year. This means that most of the tea production in the world occurs in China and India, but also Japan, Africa, South & Central America, Sri Lanka, Taiwan. Australia does have several tea growing regions, in Queensland and Victoria. And yes, we even have tea grown right here in WA, at a plantation in Northcliffe near Manjimup. And I am lucky enough to be a stockiest of this beautiful green tea.
Go to http://www.southernforestgreentea.com.au and check out the pictures of this beautiful plantation!
Types of Tea
There are three main types of tea, all derived from the Camellia senensis plant.
This is the least processed and oxidized.
It is withered and dried immediately after plucking – which prevents oxidation
Because the leaves undergo the least processing, they are the most delicate of all.
White tea is high in antioxidents, as it contains high levels of polyphenols that stop free radicals
The leaves are steamed or fired (dried) after plucking to prevent oxidation, then rolled.
The leaves are heavily processed, which includes withering, rolling, and oxidation. The result is one hundred per cent oxidized leaves, with the characteristic black colour.
Processing and Caffeine Levels
Although white, green and black tea originates from the same plant, their caffeine levels are considerably different. The more processed the leaves, the greater the caffeine level.
|Beverage|| Caffeine Per 250ml Serve |
|White Tea||30-55 mg|
|Green Tea||35-70 mg|
|Oolong Tea (between 25% and 75% oxidised)||50-75 mg|
|Black Tea||60-90 mg|
It is interesting to note that your average chocolate bar contains approximately 10 mg of caffeine!
However the caffeine in tea acts differently from coffee
- It is not as fast releasing
- You don’t get that sharp high
- The caffeine interacts with the amino acids in tea, so that when it hits our brains, it sends us into relaxation mode!!
It is little wonder that it is the second most consumed beverage in the world!
Crazy Tea Lady
Reference: “The Tea Drinkers Handbook” by Francois-Xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet and Christine Barbaste