Two of the most popular teas in Australia are green tea and black tea. Though both teas come from the same leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, their colour and flavour are vastly different. However, their differences don’t stop there. Here, we’ll take a look at the contrasts between green tea and black tea to understand why some tea-drinkers prefer one over the other.
History and Popularity
The origins of green tea can be traced back to 2737 B.C., China. It’s believed that it was discovered by accident when fresh tea leaves fell into Chinese Emperor Shennong’s cup of just-boiled water. Today, green tea comes in a variety of types, with matcha tea being one of the most well-known. In the last few decades, the popularity of green tea has increased and its uses extendbeyond drinking. Currently, China is the biggest producer of green tea. However, due to the rising interest in green tea, countries like Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia are also producing this type of tea.
The origins of black tea, on the other hand, can be traced back to the late Ming Dynasty. It was called hong cha—or red tea—due to the reddish colour it produced. Black tea came to be when an army from Jianxi made an unscheduled camping session near a tea factory in the Fujian province. This led to a delay in tea production, causing the tea leaves to be laid out in the sun for much longer. Prolonged exposure caused the leaves to turn dark. To save the tea, a farmer placed the leaves over a fire and created a tea with a smoky flavour. Today, you can brew a variety of black teas, and one of the most popular is Earl Grey tea. While China is the top producer of black tea, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka also produce this type of tea. A relative of both green and black tea is pu’erh tea, from China boasting many health benefits, including reduced cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and you can learn more about it in a pu’erh teas guide if this sounds like something you might enjoy.
Depending on where the leaves are grown, the production of green tea is handled differently. For example, in China, heating the leaves is done by pan firing them in large drums or woks. The process can be repeated several times to create a richer flavour. After heating, the leaves are rolled into the desired shapes before they’re dried. In Japan, however, plucked green tea leaves are steamed in a bamboo tray or placed in a steaming machine before they’re rolled and dried.
The production of black tea also varies per country, but the leaves go through the following four basic stages: • Withering. Helps soften the leaves and reduce moisture content.• Rolling. Starts the oxidation process by releasing their natural juices and chemicals.• Oxidation. The stage where the leaves begin to develop their distinct aroma and flavour.• Firing and drying. Stops the oxidation process.
To make the perfect cup of green tea, you’ll need to make sure that the water temperature stays between 71 °C and 76 °C. The leaves shouldn’t be left in the water for a prolonged time, so allow them to steep for no more than 2 minutes.
When making a cup of black tea, the water temperature has to stay between 90 °C and 96 °C. If you’re using Chinese black teas, steep the leaves for 1 to 2 minutes. For other black teas, you can steep them between 3 and 5 minutes.
No matter what type of tea you drink, everyone can agree that having a cup of tea (or two) has become a staple for many Australians. When we take time to make the perfect cup, after all, it gives us the boost of energy we need to start the day and helps keep us calm during our most stressful moments. Nevertheless, it’s good to be knowledgeable about the origins, production, and preparation of certain types of teas. This way, we can fully appreciate the benefits teas, likegreen tea and black tea, have to offer.
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