White Tea, called Bai Cha (pronounced ‘buy char’) in Chinese, has become more and more popular in recent times in the West thanks to the intensive (and often confusing) marketing done in relationship to its unique taste and health enhancing properties.
The production of tea is a mix of art and science. A lot of skill is involved, and getting a better understanding of what goes into our favourite beverage makes you appreciate your cup of tea even more.
In our previous article we have given an overview over how each type of tea is manufactured, whereas here we’ll dive into a bit more detail.
Today we’ll focus on the third and last but probably the most important aspect that determines the taste: the manufacturing process.
The concept of terroir has emerged as a key parameter for flavour over the past few years, and the wine industry has done a particularly good job at highlighting its importance. But what exactly do we understand by “terroir”, and what role does it play in tea?
There are three factors that determine the taste of a tea: the plant variety, the terroir and the manufacturing process.
Today we’ll explore the first of these factors, the plant variety, in a bit more detail – don’t worry, we’ll keep things simple!
Here’s an astonishing fact: tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, after water! In the UK alone, we drink an incredible 165,000,000 cups of tea every single day – far more than coffee. However, despite being such prolific tea drinkers, we don’t seem to know much about tea.
Pure tea is a fascinating drink, not just because of its incredible flavours, but also because of how it is produced. From one and the same plant, skilled tea masters manage to produce all six types of tea and a dazzling array of different flavours without adding any chemical or natural flavours.
You’ve been warned that the title of this post has nothing to do with Game of Thrones!
Despite having a preference for tea and being intrigued by its complexities, it was only last year that I decided to delve in further and go to a tea tasting class. Although there are many options in London, I was keen on trying something memorable and, upon the recommendation of a good friend, I ended up Teanamu Chaya Teahouse, in Notting Hill.
If you’ve ever watched a wine tasting competition, you will most likely have experienced two emotions: first, a sense of total admiration for the wine sommeliers who effortlessly describe a wine’s characteristics, right down to its name and vintage after a few sips.