Tea is a calming and invigorating beverage with a rich culture and history. You can enjoy a cup of tea for just a few cents, but if you're open to it, tea can be a fascinating journey of discovery.
Tea is exclusively made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Beverages made with other ingredients cannot be formally called tea. We refer to those as infusions. From the Camellia Sinensis shrub, only the youngest leaves are plucked, specifically the budding (needle-shaped) leaf and the two leaves next to it. This is known as the 'two leaves and a bud' plucking style. Using these freshly plucked leaves, black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and fermented tea are produced.
Once the tea leaves are plucked, they are allowed to wither until they become limp and rubbery. Then, they are rolled and bruised to activate the leaf juices (enzymes and essential oils) and separate the soft parts from the hard ones. The leaf juices immediately react with the oxygen in the air, resulting in browning (oxidation). After about 4-8 hours of oxidation, the tea becomes completely dark in color: black, or as they say in China, red. Afterward, the tea is dried for about 20 minutes in a 90°C oven.