Latin: Camelia sinensis
Parts Used: Leaf.
Taste/Energetics: Depends on the processing. Green more neutral in temperature. Black more warming. All tend to have complex flavors but are often bitter, aromatic and slightly sweet.
Properties: Antioxidant, cardioporotective, stimulant, diuretic,
Actions: As one of the most common stimulant plants containing caffeine, tea from Camelia sinensis comes in a variety of forms. Besides location, the form of processing tea is key to its flavor, taste and effect. The main factor in the difference between white, green, oolong or black is the process of oxidation. The more a plant is subject to oxidation, the more it turns black.
Though we traditionally think that caffeine content is higher in black tea than green tea that has not been born out in research. In fact, caffeine content varies widely from tea to tea. Caffeine content does rise the longer a tea is steeped in hot water. On average you can think of a cup of tea as having on average 20-60 mg of caffeine compared to a cup of coffee containing from 100-150 mg.
There has ben a lot of focus on green tea being the more health giving type of tea due to higher levels of flavonoid antioxidants. However, both appear to have immune and cardiac improving properties and research has pointed to both green and black tea reducing the risk of stroke.
White tea: Tea buds are picked when they are still tightly enclosed and then just wilted and dried. White tea really retains the flavor and essence of the plant.
Green tea: This is the type of tea that is gathered and either heated by steam or pan firing to avoid oxidation. Green tea is highest in anti-oxidant flavonoids.
Oolong: This is semi-oxidized tea that tends to retain the flavor of green tea while having a more earthy, roasted flavor.
Black tea: These are fully oxidized teas that are rich and strong in taste and flavor. Many of these teas are familiar to us such as English Breakfast, Darjeeling or Earl Grey.
Pu’erh: These are teas that have been fermented and tend to improve with aging and time. They can be bought green or black.
Dosage: 1-2 tsp per cup is common. Green tea is best steeped in 160-180 degree temp water to retain flavor. Black tea can be steeped in boiling water. In general tea only needs 2-3 minutes to steep. The longer the steep, the more bitter the flavor and the higher the caffeine content.
As a side note, one of the main things that annoy me when I go to a cafe is that I am asked what size cup of tea I would like- with price being variant on the size of cup. How ridiculous is that? The price should vary due to the amount of tea being placed in the cup. You put more tea in my cup, I will pay you more. End rant.
Contraindications: Avoid if sensitive to caffeine.