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What are the different tastes of each loose tea?
First, what defines each type of tea? The level of oxidation it undergoes.
These types of tea are distinguished by the processing they undergo. All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. It is this one plant that produces all teas- the only thing that differentiates which type of tea it becomes, is how it is processed.
Leaves of Camellia sinensis soon begin to wilt and oxidize if not dried quickly after picking. The leaves turn progressively darker because chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released when they are combined with oxygen.
This process, enzymatic oxidation, is called "fermentation" in the tea industry although no true fermentation happens (that is, the process isn't microorganism-driven). The next step in processing is to stop the oxidation process at a predetermined stage by heating, which deactivates the enzymes responsible. In black tea this is done simultaneously with drying.
White tea is made from the buds of the tea plant. It is steam dried quickly after the leaves are picked- there is no oxidation at all. Because there is no oxidation, it contains the most anti-oxidants and catechins, the least caffeine, and has a pale color with a delicate, sweet taste. This tea is pale yellow or green in color.
is simply withered and then dried. The oxidation process is stopped after a minimal amount of oxidation by application of heat, either with steam, a traditional Japanese method, or by dry cooking in hot pans, the traditional Chinese method. It has a light taste, yet is slightly stronger than white tea and is pale green / golden in color.
Black tea is oxidized and dried. The tea leaves are allowed to completely oxidize, producing a rich and robust taste, often with a slight sweetness. It brews a hearty, amber-red color, though the leaves are a dark brown or black.
Jasmine tea is simply any tea, usually green or white, combined with dried jasmine flowers. The tea is very fragrant when dry and when brewed, and has a light, sweet taste of jasmine petals. It is widely popular internationally.
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