China is the only country in the world where all types of tea are produced. The tea types include green tea, black tea, post-fermented tea, yellow tea, white tea and blue-green (oolong) tea. Let us discover different types of tea in China!
Tea production in China
Most Chinese green teas come from the Anhui region. However the Long Ching tea is harvested in the Zhejiang region, and many other teas are produced in the Fujian region.
The Chinese have created 3 categories of green tea, judging by the production techniques:
‘Gunpowder’ tea, whose leaves are rolled in the shape of small balls;
‘Chun Mee’ tea (‘Chun Mee’ translates as “an old man’s eyebrow”), whose leaves are rolled in length;
‘Long Ching’ tea (‘Long Ching’ translates as ‘the dragon’s wells’), whose leaves are dried in a frying pan, and afterwards they are folded in length.
As mentioned previously, China is the cradle of tea, and it refers especially to green tea. In order to learn more about the emerging of green tea in China, please feel free to discover our article entitled “History of Green Tea in China“.
Black tea (also referred to as ‘fermented tea’)
What is referred to as ‘black tea’ in the entire world, is in reality ‘fermented tea’. In China this type of tea is referred to as ‘red tea’, with the exception of Pu Erh, which is a post-fermented black tea, and one of the most important types of tea in China.
The difference between green tea and red tea (or ‘black tea’) is in fermentation. Green tea leaves are not fermented after being harvested. They are immediately dried. However, fermented tea is prepared in several steps:
Withering: the tea
leaves are exposed to the sun so that they should lose half of the water that they contain.
Rolling: the tea
leaves are slightly rolled.
Fermentation: the leaves are kept in a room at a temperature of 27º C without any oxygen. Thus, the tea leaves are oxidized and transform from green into black colour.
Selection: the whole leaves are separated from the “damaged” ones.
Packing: the tea leaves are packed into bags or chests and placed into a cool and dry room.
There is also ‘smoked black tea’. The most famous tea in this category is the ‘Lapsang Souchong’
In China black tea also exists in the pressed form. This is very common for Pu Erh tea, and this method is used to facilitate the transport process.
As mentioned previously, China is a cradle of tea, but it is also in China that Black tea originated. Should you wish to learn more about Chinese Black Tea, and other kinds of black tea, please feel free to discover our article entitled ‘Types of Black Tea‘.
White tea is much more rare than green or black tea, but it is one of the most refined types of tea in China. The first buds are harvested in early spring, then the tea leaves are exposed to the sun, and become silver in colour. It is for that reason that one of the most famous white teas is called Yin Zhen (the ‘Silver Needle’). Another quite well-known white tea is called ‘Pai Mu Tan’ (that translates from Chinese as ‘the White Peony’)
Little is known about yellow tea in Europe, however this tea type, despite being a rarity in its country of origin, is definitely one of the most important types of tea in China. This is a slightly fermented version of green tea. The tea leaves are placed under the sun in a closed basket, which allows them tea to become slightly yellowish in colour and gives the tea an unforgettable flavour.
Blue-green tea is semi-fermented, and it is most commonly referred to as Oolong, and we cannot talk about types of tea in China without mentioning Oolong.
As well as white tea, oolong is a slightly fermented tea, but the technique of its fermentation is closer to that of black tea. The tea leaves are placed in an unoxidised room at the temperature of 27o C, but they do not remain there for as long as the black tea leaves. Therefore, their fermentation is only partial.
There are different types of oolong, depending on the level of their fermentation and, the less fermented they are, the closer the taste is to green tea. On the other hand, if the tea leaves are fermented for longer, the taste will be more like that of black tea.
Usually the taste of oolong tea is rather light. What is more, this tea contains very little amounts of theine, and can therefore be drunk at any time of the day.
Tea plays an essential role in Chinese culture. Therefore, the Chinese have developed a number of customs dedicated to tasting this extraordinary drink. Should you wish to learn more about this, please refer to our article “Tea Tasting in China“.
One thought on “Types of tea in China”
A wonderful article. Didn’t know Oolong was not a green tea!