There are two categories of tea: true tea and herbal tea. True teas are oolong tea, baozhong tea, jasmine tea, black tea, green tea, white tea, and pu-erh tea. What do true teas have in common? They all come from the same plant - camellia sinensis (a.k.a ‘cha hua’ in Chinese, which means ‘tea flower’). Read on to learn about camellia sinensis and how different types of true tea are made from this plant.
Where does camellia sinensis originate from?
The name camellia sinensis means a ‘tea plant that originates from China’. It's estimated that this tea plant was discovered in China about 22,000 years ago. Camellia sinensis was originally used as a medicinal drink for its many health benefits and antimicrobial properties. Over time, true tea became a common beverage loved for its taste and variety.
Where is camellia sinensis grown?
Today, camellia sinensis is harvested in East Asia, South Asia, and South East Asia. Camellia sinensis can be grown in many different places, but high quality tea leaves are grown in high elevation where the air is cool and moist. The plant typically takes 60 days to reach ripeness and is hand-picked by the farmers. It undergoes a drying process and then an oxidation process, which determines which type of true tea the plant will become.
What teas are made from camellia sinensis?
Different types of true tea (listed below) are made from camellia sinensis by controlling the level of oxidation. By absorbing oxygen, the plant goes through a chemical process that changes the flavor and aroma of the tea leaves. Learn more about how tea is made.
Below are the true teas listed in order from least oxidized to most oxidized:
• White tea
• Green tea
• Oolong tea
• Black tea
• Pu-erh tea
What are the health benefits of camellia sinensis?
Camellia sinensis is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help to lower the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, improve heart health, and reduce stress. So all true teas share these health benefits. In addition to these, each tea has unique benefits associated with the level of oxidation.
Now that you know what plant true teas come from, you can better understand the differences between various types of teas. This knowledge will help you to appreciate the process tea farmers go through in creating tea and the diverse flavors and aromas of true teas.