At its core, tea production is what differentiates the various tea classifications.
Varietal and location play a part in further classifying a tea. However, you could process multiple varietals from different locations, at the same rate of oxidation and you would get the same type of tea.
For example, if you took a Qimen varietal from Anhui Province and the Long Jing #43 varietal from Zhejiang Province and processed them like a white tea, then you would have 2 white teas made with different varietals.
What are the different tea types?
Green Tea- Green tea is withered, de-enzymed, and then dried. This type of tea is said to be un-oxidized.
Yellow Tea- Yellow tea is very similar to green tea in terms of pruduction. However, after the leaves are heated, a cloth is placed over them to trap heat and steam them. Then the leaves are dried.
White Tea- After the leaves are withered, they're spread out on raised beds for better air circulation and dried over a longer period of time.
Oolong Tea- After withering, the leaves are allowed to oxidize, heated, shaped, and then dried. Often times the heating and shaping steps are repeated upwards of 60 times before the leaves have oxidized and/or have been shaped enough to enter the drying step. Once the leaves have been dried, they undergo an optional final firing, depending on the tea producer, country of origin, or what the customer is looking for.
Red Tea- After withering, the leaves are oxidized, shaped, and then dried.
Puer- Puer teas are categorized as either Sheng or Shou.
- Sheng- "Raw" or green puer.
- Shou- Sheng puer that has gone through an additional fermentation stage of production.
These are general production descriptions. In later posts, we'll dive deeper into the specifics of tea production for the various types of teas.