A Tea Guide for Beginners
Welcome to the wonderful world of tea! There are many different types of tea to chose from. For someone who just likes to drink a nice cup once in a while, choosing between them can be overwhelming. So naturally for our first journal post, we’re here to guide you to your perfect match(es). Ready? Let’s roll.
So, tea is essentially made from leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis. These leaves are the foundation of most of the teas that we know and love, such as black, green, white, and oolong teas. The difference between these teas mostly comes down to the processing methods that are used after the leaves are plucked from the bush. For example, some methods involve steaming or roasting the leaves, leaving them in the sun for a certain amount of time, or using other techniques that can affect the taste, sweetness, and intensity of the tea. Exploring the different methods and flavors can be really interesting, and it's similar to how some people explore the complexities of wine or coffee.
However, there is also tea that does not come from the Camellia sinensis plant: herbal tea. Herbal tea is made from dried herbs, fruits, flowers, or spices. You are probably already familiar with classics such as mint, licorice, and chamomile, but there is so much more variety out there. It can be a bit of a jungle, which is why we created the Lazy Tea Club. Our goal is to make it easy to find a few good options from the wonderful variety of both regular and herbal teas. So, let's explore the different categories and see what each has to offer.
First, we have green tea. Green tea is known for its fresh, grassy flavor and is one of the most popular teas worldwide. A good green tea transports you to the Far East and gives you instant vibes of green hills, monasteries, and mindfulness if you’re into it. To make green tea, the farmer will heat the leaves as fast as possible after plucking them, stopping the oxidation process. This retains the light, green color of the leaves and their delicate, natural, sweet, and umami flavors. If we dive deeper, there’s a whole world of nuance in green tea, like at what time of the day were the leaves picked, how long has the plant been in the shadow before being plucked, were the leaves steamed or roasted or both, and more.
With thousands of green teas to choose from, where do you start? Sencha is the answer. It is the most popular type of tea in Japan, and for good reason. The steamed leaves are left full of sweetness and umami, yet remain delicate, grassy, and natural. Our Super Sencha is essentially a classic version of this classic tea that will really introduce you to the world of green tea.
If pure green tea sounds a little too grassy to start with, we also have a blend of steamed green tea and mint from Malawi called Minty Green. The mint takes the edge off the intense green tea and blends it with even more sweetness and fruitiness, making it a little lighter on the taste buds.
We could also dive into the wide health benefits of green tea, and perhaps its invigorating effects. However, this topic deserves its own blog post, which we have yet to write. Stay tuned.
Next, we have white tea White tea is minimally processed and is renowned for its delicate, light flavors. Originating from China, white tea is made from the young leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant (buds are unopened leaf shoots), harvested before they fully mature. After plucking, the delicate leaves are left to wither and dry in the sun, slowly minimizing oxidation to lock in the leaves' elegant, silky smooth flavors.
The young buds from the tea plant have fine white hairs, which, when dried, give the tea a white and almost silvery appearance. There is actually a type of very high-end Chinese white tea made exclusively of buds called Bai Hao Yinzhen or “Silver Needle”.
For some, white tea may appear a little boring, but for us, this is what makes it wonderful. The delicate leaves only give subtle flavors, forcing you to concentrate in order to actually experience the tea. However, when you do, white tea often holds many surprises, from clear notes of fruit, flowers, or honey, to a distinct mouthfeel, to a sudden calmness of mind. White tea is low in caffeine and high in theanine, making it a natural and effective way to focus. Whether this is for meditation, work, or something else is up to you.
The white tea available at the Lazy Tea Club is a little unconventional. The Light White variant is hand-picked in the Malawi highlands and oxidized slightly more than the typical white tea. This process retains the mild, floral taste and an incredibly satisfying, creamy mouthfeel. However, it also intensifies the tea's flavors, making it more appealing for novice tea drinkers. Light White is perfect for relaxed mornings, taking it easy, and unwinding after a tiring day.
Now, let's take a look at black tea. Black tea is the most popular tea in the West. As we discussed with green tea, the farmer tries to halt the oxidation process, whereas with black tea, it is encouraged. This means that enzymes from the leaves react with oxygen in the air, darkening the color of the leaf and developing completely new flavors. Pretty cool.
The most common type of black tea today is breakfast tea. It typically consists of small leaves with a strong and robust flavor that became popular during the 1800s to help the British people start their day. Despite the strength and intensity, a well-brewed cup of black tea can also be full of nuance. It can be bold in flavor, but also sweet, nutty, citrusy, and even slightly spicy.
Our Breakfast Dip is a well-rounded black tea and a great choice to start your black tea journey. It is intense but also fruity and has a beautiful red color, like a sunrise during breakfast. Interestingly, in Eastern languages, black tea is not translated to black (like the leaves) but to red, due to the color of a well-brewed cup. 🌄
Oolong tea is one of the lesser-known varieties. In very simple terms, the process of making oolong is somewhere in between that of black and green tea.
When making green tea, the farmer dries the leaves as quickly as possible to prevent oxidation. This maintains the green color and fresh flavor of the leaves. In contrast, when making black tea, the farmer encourages oxidation, which turns the leaves black and gives them a strong flavor. Oolong teas fall somewhere in between, resulting in endless varieties that can lean towards green or black teas, or be something unique in the middle. Good oolong teas are famous for their distinct flavors, which can often surprise the drinker.
The wide variety of oolong teas makes it almost impossible to choose where to start. At the Lazy Tea Club, we carry a Gentle Oolong that is lightly oxidized, reminding us mostly of green tea but with more sweetness and distinct flavors of flowers and anything spring.
Fun fact: This type of oolong is known as "Monkey Picked Oolong". The tea plants grow on steep, slippery mountainsides in Anxi, Southeast China, where legend has it that the locals trained monkeys to pick the leaves as it was too dangerous to do so themselves. However, we're quite sure that no monkeys were involved in the picking of the Gentle Oolong. 🐒
Last but not least, we have herbal tea. Herbal tea isn't made from Camellia Sinensis, but from different herbs, plants, or roots. Obviously, each herbal tea is very different depending on what's in it. Herbal teas can be blends like Cool Mint (a mix of mint, licorice, lemongrass, and sometimes apple), but they can also be simple based on a single ingredient. At Lazy Tea Club, we've chosen a few simple ones that we think fit perfectly into our everyday lives.
Chamomile is a classic. It's perfect for melting your body and mind on the couch while watching a good movie on a Friday night or if you have a stuffy nose and need something warm and comforting. Unfortunately, most people have only tried chamomile blended into tea bags and have never experienced the whole flower itself, which boasts of sweetness and aroma. If we do say so ourselves, our Starlight Chamomile is truly a must-have in pretty much any home that enjoys tea.
Our Sweet Lemongrass is a little unconventional. Have you ever tried pure lemongrass tea? It's amazing! It's fresh, fruity, and floral, and it's a great pick-me-up for late afternoons. By the way, herbal teas are caffeine-free, so feel free to enjoy them anytime.
And the rest
There's so much more to tea than what we touched upon today, but I hope this gave you a head start on what to choose and how to get started. Each type of tea has its own unique flavor profile, so there's sure to be a tea out there for you. Go ahead and explore the different types of tea today and discover your new favorite. If you're curious, the starter pack is a good place to get going.
Different Teas for Different Times: When to Drink What
Tea is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The type of tea you drink can affect your mood, energy level, and overall well-being, so in this blog post, we will provide a quick guide on when to drink different types of tea during the day. This of course isn’t set in stone, but hopefully a helpful piece of inspiration for how tea can fit into to your life.
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