This has happened a few times in the last several days, so I must talk about it. We’ve somehow come upon the subject of tea, and someone mentions peppermint tea or fruit tea or herbal even. Those aren’t tea. They’re not. Some people respond better to my position than others. Let me just say what I’ve said before. This blog isn’t for tea fanatics who already agree with what I’m about to say. The people I’m writing this blog for are the people who’re curious about tea.
Maybe you don’t care about the question “What constitutes tea?” For you, peppermint tea is tea and that’s all you need. I have no problem with that. None. Personally, I really love what you’d probably call Rooibus tea. Made from a red bush. Grown in South Africa, I think. Especially when I have a cold, I drink it with lots of honey. Doesn’t make it tea.
Tea is any beverage that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Basta. Anything else is what I’d call an infusion. I’m not a jerk about this. When I order a Rooibus in a tea shop, I don’t stubbornly say ‘infusion’ rather than ‘tea’. But because I’ve been confronted with this several times lately, I wanted to talk about it.
So, I asked the people I was with yesterday, who insisted peppermint tea was tea, what six varieties of tea there are. This is when red bush tea and herbal tea and a variety of others were mentioned. ‘Not tea,’ I said. So I gave them a bit of a push and said. ‘One category is black.’
‘Oh, now we get it,’ you could see them saying to themselves. So they knew white and black and green tea, but got caught up on the Oolong (or sometimes WuLang). I didn’t even mention yellow or Pu-erh. One of them even knew the word oxidation when we were discussing the difference between the varieties.
Here’s the run down (the order of categories of tea according to the amount of processing): white, yellow, green, Oolong, and black. In that order. Pu-erh is in it’s own category. It’s fermented. In another post, if you’re interested, I’ll talk about the differences.
Hope this wasn’t boring. More ridiculous stories soon.