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Tea Categories

There are many ways to categorize tea and key countries such as China, India and Japan use different systems of categorization and of grading tea leaf sizes. For some, this leads to market confusion. For others, it adds to the complexity and intrigue of tea!

General tea categories are:

White: Minimal processing; generally buds only; lightly steamed to kill enzymes and stop oxidation, then withered; no rolling so little oxidation takes place. For example, Bai Mu Tan.

Green: Light processing; steamed (Japan) or fired (China); some rolling, then usually withered. For example, Sen cha or Mat cha.

Oolong: More processed than green teas / less than black teas; partially oxidized by “bruising”; withered; generally two leaves and a bud.

Black or Red: Most processed; fully withered and fully oxidized.; Crush Tear Curl (CTC). For example, Sen cha or Mat cha. Darjeeling or Earl Grey or Masala.

True Black: Slowly oxidized green or oolong tea that undergoes microbial fermentation for many years. For example, Pu’erh.