Tea Tea TV Episode 1: Tea 101 - Tea Varieties

Jesse Jacobs: And what it pu-erh tea?

Christine Savage: Pu-erh tea is the kind of tea that is fermented. So there are two ways that it can be fermented, there can either be a cooked pu-erh tea, or a raw pu-erh.

Jesse Jacobs: Okay.

Christine Savage: All pu-erh starts up the same, the leaves are plucked from the tree, and then it undergoes a process that's called saiqing or sun-curing.

After that to make raw pu-erh the leaves are either left loose, or they are compressed into shapes. So it could be pressed into a cake, or a brick, or put in to the inside of a hollowed-out bamboo, or a hollowed-out fruit.

Jesse Jacobs: Wow!

Christine Savage: And at that point, it ferments and ages over time.

The other kind of pu-erh tea is cooked pu-erh tea, and this is tea that's been fermented to an intentional accelerated fermentation process.

Jesse Jacobs: And what is herbal tea?

Christine Savage: Herbal tea isn't actually a tea tea, or a tea proper. Herbal tea refers to an infusion made from a plant, that's not from the Camellia sinensis.

Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine, there are some like Yerba Mate that does have caffeine. But the majority are herbs that are caffeine free.

So, people can either infuse the leaves of a plant, such as with mints, or a flower like with chamomile or jasmine, or a processed version of the plant like with rooibos, or even, I've seen infusions made from the peels of citrus fruits, like blood orange.

Jesse Jacobs: Okay. So, what does it take to brew great tea, how do you do it?

Christine Savage: Well, all you need to make great tea is filtered water, good tasting water, about one teaspoon of tea per cup of tea that you want to prepare and the right temperature water. So, for a black tea, some oolongs, and for pu-erh tea, we want water that's about boiling temperature.

But for green teas and white teas, you want water that has dropped down from boiling to about 180 degrees or lower.

Jesse Jacobs: So Christine what do you look for when you're looking for good tea?

Christine Savage: Well I look for a tea that is fresh, seasonal, and consistent in size and shape. So, even though all of these teas may look different, if you look at each one, each of the leaves are the same size, so you're going to get a uniform brew.

And ideally you also want to get tea that is organic in fair trade, depending on where the tea is coming from.

So the fresher the tea, the more seasonal the tea, the healthier and more flavorful the tea will be to you.

Jesse Jacobs: So, that you so much for joining us today and giving us a little Tea 101, and I will see you around in the tea rooms of America.

Christine Savage: Thank you.

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