The different classes of Chinese Tea — benefits and features
Chinese Green tea
The green tea is the most natural among all Chinese teas. Green tea is made from tea leaves that have been minimally oxidated during processing. The tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant (Tea Tree) and then quickly heated, by pan frying or steaming, and dried. This process terminates the activity of leaf enzymes preventing too much oxidation which would turn the green leaves brown and lose their fresh-picked flavor.
Green tea contains a variety of enzymes, amino acids, dietary minerals, phytochemicals, related compounds and caffeine. These substances can overwhelm the uprising of free radicals in the body, protecting cells from aging and damage. One of the most powerful organic antioxidants of green tea is the Epigallocatechin Gallate (EPCG), which has been proven to fight various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.
The benefits of Chinese Green tea according Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- Green tea catechins provide antibacterial and antivirus effect
- Regulates cholesterol and restore normal blood pressure
- Kills bacteries in the mouth and intestines
- Presence of catechins and polysaccharides helps to low blood sugar
- Improves blood circulation
Chinese Oolong tea
Oolong tea is half fermented what makes it something in between green and black tea. The oolong tea leaves usually have green color on the middle and fades into the red or brown at the edge. The reason of this color changing is that this tea is fried, rolled and roasted. Even if its taste is pretty smooth and mild better do not abuse with drinking of oolong tea because it’s quite strong.
The benefits of Chinese Oolong tea according Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- Presence of polyphenols helps to reduce risk of tooth decay
- Prevents skin fading and aging due to the large amount of vitamin C
- Can soothe the irritated skin
- Helps to increase the performance of enzymes breaking down fat and enchances fat metabolism
- Can reduce the level of cholesterol
- Facilitates relaxing muscles of the bronchial tract
- Regulates body temperature
Chinese Black tea
Black tea is dried, fermented and then roasted. It’s more oxidized than white, green and oolong teas what gives it a stronger flavor and a bright pronounced taste. The flavor is developed by keeping the leaves warm and moist for a few hours which turns them black as the chemical compounds in the leaves break them down by reacting with the air. Because of processing features it contains more caffeine than any other class of Chinese tea.
While green tea loses its flavor within a year, the flavor of the black tea can last several years. Also it can be stored much longer time then green tea. This is the main reason that it has long been an article of trade to Europe. The compressed bricks of black tea even were used as a form of special currency in Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia in 19th century.
The benefits of Chinese Black tea according Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- Helps to reduce fat, protein and cholesterol
- Being a source of fluoride improves dental health
- Eliminates fatigue, inducing the central nervous system
- Strengthens bones
- Improves blood vessel strength and elasticity
Chinese Red tea
Red tea was named after the color of its leaves of copper tone. It is often mistaken for black tea in the West because “Red tea” in Chinese sometimes can be translated to English as “Black Tea”. The level of fermentation for Chinese red tea reaches the international standard for black tea, so flavor of red tea can also last a long time. In China red tea never reached a big popularity.
Chinese White tea
White Chinese tea is producing using similar process than green tea. It’s made from the youngest and most tender hand-picked tea leaf tips and buds and considered one of the highly beneficial kinds of tea because retains all anti-oxidation properties. The hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant give it white color.
The tradition of white tea production is very old and this variety is quite rare. In the past only the emperor and the court could use it.
The benefits of Chinese White tea according Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- It possesses anti-inflammatory properties reducing inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis
- Can control pancreas working and level of insulin secretion
- Being a rich source of vitamin A, can prevent eye diseases, in particular dry eyes and night blindness
- Decrease radiation level removing radionuclides from the body
Chinese Yellow tea
The process to get yellow tea is quite similar for green and white tea processing. The main difference is that the tea leaves are drying for a longer time so that they become yellow. According to the opinion of some experts, exactly because of this processing feature, the yellow tea may possess even more health benefits than green tea.
Chinese Flower tea
Pu-erh tea (sometimes spelled as Pu’er)
Pu-erh tea is a kind of post-fermented tea produced in Yunnan province. The leaves are first dried and rolled (formed) and then go through the process of fermentation.
There are two varieties of Pu-erh tea: Green (Sheng) and Black (Shou), depending on how the leaves are processed. Both Green and Black Pu-erh tea follow the same steps of processing but the Black variety has the additional step of “Cooking” what means laying the leaves in a pile to stimulate fermentation. Next step of producing of both varieties is storing for aging.
Pu-erh teas are different from other teas and get their unique flavor from the special procedure of sun-drying the leaves after the rolling (forming) step. Green Pu-erh tea has been known and produced for centuries but the process for Black Pu-erh tea was developed in 1973.
When processing is over, for both green and black varieties, the leaves are then left as loose leaves or compressed into the following forms:
- Cake Tea
- Brick Tea
- Bell Shape
- Mushroom Shape
Both varieties of Pu-erh tea can be stored for a long time. In fact the longer the storage, the better the tea gets. It’s recommended to store in unglazed clay containers because they “breath” and reduce temperature fluctuations.
Health benefits of Chinese Pu-erh tea according Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- Aids in weight loss and facilitate digestion
- Lower cholesterol and has protective features against heart diseases and cancer
- Has been used for treatment of atherosclerosis, colds, bleeding and hepatitis
- High concentration of digestible vitamin C quickly absorbed by the body