Tea is made from the young leaves of the tea plant. The leaves are usually allowed to ferment and it is the length of fermentation that determines the colour, taste, aroma and character of the tea. The tea fermented, the more green and yellow is the tea. Redder tea results from leaves that are more fermented. Baking the leaves also affects the depth of colour of the tea. The more baked teas are darker. Clearly the less the leaves are fermented and baked the more natural the taste of the tea.
We can classify teas into various stages of fermentation as follows:
a) Non-fermented: eg. Green Tea
b) Semi-fermented: Oolong
Light: Chinchua, White tea
Medium: Dunting, Tekuanwin
Heavy: Mandarin Oolong
c) Fully-fermented: Black tea
An experienced person will first look at the leaves and be able to tell the quality of the tea and also the colour, taste and the aroma that it will have after brewing. He can tell if the leaves are young, old, what state of fermentation, whether the leaves have been broken etc. Thus examination of the leaves is the first stage of enjoyment.
After brewing there is not only the taste but also the smell and colour to observe. Also don't forget to enjoy the smell and colour to observe. Also don't forget to enjoy the smell left at the bottom of the cup. The tea leaves left over will tell you a lot about the leaves' background.
TEA IN CHINA
Chinese etiquette requires that various rules and procedures be followed when making tea on certain occasions. Tea plays an important part in social and domestic life - saying good morning to parents, important functions, relaxing with friends, during a business meeting and so on. For husband and wife, parents and children the little ceremony of drinking tea is a medium for communication. Tea is without a doubt the Chinese national drink.
STORAGE OF TEA LEAVES
It is important to store tea carefully otherwise the quality will gradually diminish with time. Leaves should be kept in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. Make sure the container is well sealed. It is important that less fermented and lighter tea (esp. Green Tea) should not be stored too long before drinking. Darker teas can be kept longer if stored well.