How is TEA made?
The Tea Making Process
At its simplest level our Tea Plant, Camellia sinensis, can be used to make 6 different categories of teas.
Your mind will be blown when you get into the nitty gritty of tea varietals and cultivars. The depth and infinite flavour profiles quickly descend you down a rabbit hole of tea (if Tania & I ever publish a book we might give you that advanced tea guide)!
Did you know Tania maintains her own YouTube channel called via Cuppa Cha Tea Channel. For those that have an appetite for Taiwanese Oolongs and their cultivars this is a great free resource.
White Tea, Green Tea and Black Tea. What is with the tea colours?
Outside of East Asia, the main tea categories are white, green, yellow, oolong, black tea and dark tea named after the colour of the dried tea leaves.
As you can expect, the quirky nature that is the tea industry adds confusion to this simple colour reference. You can chalk that up to thousands of years of tea history across multiple countries.
For example, in East Asia, you will find black tea being referred to as ‘red’ tea because of the brilliant red colour of the tea liquor rather than the colour of the tea leaves. Some may also know another red herbal infusion from South Africa, Rooibos or Aspalathus linearis, that is referred to as Red Tea. To further add to the confusion, the dark tea famed in China also known as ‘heicha’ literally translates to black tea. So as you can see, tea language and the colour of tea can trip us all up.
Tea culture also creates further confusion. We have British traditions of drinking our tea with milk. Quite often this is referred to as a white tea.
So, to make it super easy here’s a basic overview from a tea specialists perspective about the Tea we use in our East Forged cold brewed nitro infused teas.
What is White Tea?
White Tea is the least processed of the tea categories. The leaf is picked and left to dry outdoors under cover or indoors for up to 40 hours. The result is a leaf that is very dry and breaks easily. White tea can be bud only or a bud with 1-2 tea leaves.
The tea liquor can range in colour between almost clear to yellow straw. As the least processed style of tea, its characteristic notes can be described as light, grassiness, floral and straw like. Exactly what you would expect from tea that looks as though it has just been picked from the tea bushes.
We use special brewing techniques at East Forged that pushes the natural light taste of white tea to a deeper taste to compliment the calamansi juice.
Discover our White Tea & Calamansi cold brew nitro infused tea here.
What is Green Tea?
Tea leaves are picked from the tea bush and are returned quickly to the tea processing factory to ‘kill-green’. This means rapid heating is used to stop the browning (oxidation) of the tea leaves.
The method of rapid heating depends on the tea maker and the country it is being produced. For example, in Japan the tea leaves are generally steamed resulting in a bright green appearance in the dry leaf whereas in China the leaves undergo a dry heat that may result in lighter green appearance.
The tea liquor colour for green tea can vary. You may see vibrant green through to a yellow green hue. The taste of Japanese style green teas when they are brewed are typically savoury, grassy with some marine notes.
The Alpine region of Victoria around Wangaratta, you will find a number of tea farms that produce green tea for the Japanese bottled tea market. We secure a small amount of this Australian-grown Japanese-style green tea (that is a mouthful!) to reduce the carbon miles of our raw ingredients. Also, it happens to be a very nice green tea.
Discover our Australian Green Tea and Pitaya cold brew nitro infused tea here.
What is Black Tea?
Tea leaves are picked and withered to reduce the moisture in the leaves, so they become limp and easy to roll into shapes. The rolling ‘bruises’ the leaves, releasing sticky sap and creates the shape of the tea. The tea leaves are left to oxidize before the final drying. The black tea process not only changes the colour of the leaf, but? it also creates the taste and aromas.
Typically British style teas, the tea leaves are processed using the cut-tear-curl (CTC) machine method instead of a gentle roll. The tea leaves are shaped into small pieces that have a dark red/brown to black colour. This process was developed for transporting the tea safely from India back to Britain.
The tea liquor colour of black tea varies from light amber to red to dark brown. Black tea typically has a rich and malty taste, but East Forged black tea reflects the character of its terrior, Far North Queensland. The beautiful rich red volcanic soil, clean and high humidity climate and the adjacent heritage rainforest.
Not everyone knows that one of our Co-founders, Tania Stacey, spent her carefree youth in this part of Australia. There is a certain nostalgia in the taste that comes through the tea for her.
Discover our Australian Black Tea and Yuzu cold brew nitro infused tea here.