Variety of Teas

White, green, blue-green (oolong) and black. all these kinds of tea come from the tea plant. It's simply the post-harvest processing that determines the type. Once the tea has been picked, the crucial stages that are needed to obtain a good quality tea leaf are withering, oxidation, fermentation, drying. The role of the tea factory is to carefully control all these stages to make the most of the aromatic substances in the tea leaf.

White tea
This tea undergoes the least amount of processing after picking. The best white teas are composed only of buds, picked over a short period in the springtime. The processing is very simple: the leaves are placed in the shade for a few days for the withering stage, then dried. This tea is scarce because there's only a short interval for harvesting. It's a fine tea, sought after by connoisseurs. It is drunk black, made with water at low temperature (so as not to destroy its subtle flavour). Its leaves can be infused several times.

Green tea
To prevent fermentation, the leaves are brought to a high temperature, using either dry heat by tossing them in a huge wok over a fire, or damp heat by steaming them over water (this latter, typically-Japanese, method gives the tea the sea-breeze aromas found in the Sencha or Matcha Japanese green teas).

Then the leaves are rolled into different shapes, depending on the country and tradition. For example it comes in the shape of fine needles in Japan, or packaged in plaits in China. Green tea is the one most commonly drunk in Asia. It has a fresh scent and is rich in vitamins (as long as they haven't been destroyed by using water which is too hot).

Oolong tea
This is a semi-fermented tea, between green tea and black tea. After plucking, the tea is withered, then the leaves are fired and fermented at the same time, at high temperature. The fermentation time is longer or shorter, depending on the desired result. In some regions, the leaves are then lightly roasted, which gives them that slight taste of roast chestnut. This is a very widely grown and popular tea in China and Taiwan.

It is low in theine and pleasant to drink, plain or lightly sweetened, in the afternoon or even the evening.

Black tea
This is a fermented tea. After plucking, the leaves are spread out on large wooden racks in the shelter of a ventilated room until they have lost 50% of their moisture. They are then rolled and this process helps to break down the cells in the leaf to release the enzymes that cause fermentation. The fermentation time will depend on the desired effect: too short and the tea will be "green", too long and it will lack character. The tea is then dried and passed through sieves to establish the "grades" according to the size of the leaves.

Ceylon and Assam are just a couple of the huge range of black teas. Black tea is pleasant to drink plain or sweetened, or sometimes with a dash of milk or lemon, depending on the variety. Black tea is frequently used as the basis for flavored teas.

Smoked tea
This is a form of black tea. Legend has it that a tea factory was once occupied by the army and when it left, the planter wanted to dry the tea leaves over a wood fire so as not to lose them. The leaves absorbed the smoke and smoked tea was born. It appeals mainly to Westerners and is not drunk in China. Among these smoked teas we find Lapsang Souchong . They are enjoyed plain or slightly sweetened, and normally drunk with meals or in the afternoon.

Flavored and perfumed tea
Long ago, the Chinese were already augmenting their teas with flowers and spices to vary the taste. The ancestor of flavored tea is Jasmine Tea. The tea leaves were rolled in jasmine blossoms during the night, because the flowers open and release their perfume in the dark. Today's is based on the same principle. This perfumed tea yields a subtle and delicate aroma.

As this type of process was very laborious, flavored teas are now manufactured. Once dried, the tea leaves are sprayed with natural essential oils obtained from flowers or fruits. It is possible to flavour all the different types of tea: green, black, white or red. Whatever process is used, the quality of the ingredients (tea and essential oils) is crucial, for obtaining a balanced tea, rich in flavours.

These teas often have appetising notes and are delicious plain or sweetened: for example, black teas flavored with chocolate , with violet and of course bergamot (Earl Grey , probably the most well-known flavored tea).

Kusmi's expertise means that it knows how to blend flavors to compose unique teas. Its wide range of flavored teas includes: black tea flavoured with natural essences of citrus, vanilla and spices (Prince Wladimir ) and green tea flavored with natural essences of bergamot, citrus and flowers (Green Bouquet ).

Red tea or Rooibos
Rooibos does not come from the tea plant, but the way it is prepared and used make it akin to tea. It grows exclusively on the plateaux in the South-West area of South Africa. More than 300 years ago, the indigenous peoples were already picking its leaves to ferment them. Today, although it has been modernised, the fermentation process has changed very little. Drunk hot or cold, fermented or unfermented, Rooibos is now South Africa's national drink.

There is a non-fermented version which is therefore called . Rooibos has a mild flavour with no bitterness. It is renowned for containing anti-oxidants and trace elements. Local lore even attributes it with anti-spasmodic and relaxing properties. With no caffeine or tannins (substances which give tea a slight bitterness), this beverage can be drunk throughout the day by both adults and children.