Fresh Recipes for a Great Tea Party
The nomenclature of tea has its roots in the color of the leaves. All teas (except for herbal teas) come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. But each type of tea (shown from left) gets its distinctive characteristics from the way the fresh tea leaves are processed.
Black tea is made from leaves that are harvested, then left to wither, dry and fully ferment before they are heated. There are black teas flavored with bits of dried fruits such as peach, strawberry, raspberry, black currant and citrus. The most famous black tea is Earl Grey, which is flavored with the oil of bergamot, a small citrus fruit from southern Italy.
Green tea is favored among Asians and is made from leaves that are steamed and dried but not fermented. The slightly grassy taste of green tea more closely resembles the fresh leaf than black tea.
Herbal tea is an infusion of herbs, spices and citrus that is not really tea at all. Rather, herbal tea is what the French call tisane (from Old French, meaning "barley water").
Oolong falls somewhere between black and green teas. It is only partially fermented before it is heated. It is clear and fragrant like green tea, but it also has some of the strength and power to refresh typically found in black teas.
White tea is made from leaves and buds that are not fully opened. It, like green tea, is steamed and dried but not fermented and has an exceptionally delicate, light, sweet flavor.