What is Tea?

img-what_is_tea3Tea Is:

Tea Trekker defines tea in the classic, traditional sense as pure, unadulterated dried leaf and leaf buds from the Camellia sinensis tea bush. This includes the three main Camellia sinensis varietals, each of which is comprised of dozens of local cultivars and country-specific breeds:

  1. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis ( small-leaf China bush)
  2. Camellia sinensis var. assamica ( large-leaf India bush)
  3. Camellia sinensis cambodi ( medium-leaf Java bush)
  4. all wild-growing and ancient tea trees and subsequent generations of indigenous tea bushes and tea trees naturally growing in southwest China, Laos, Myanmar ( Burma ), northern Thailand and northern Vietnam
  5. all Camellia sinensis cultivars developed in the 20th and 21st centuries


Tea Is NOT:


  1.  Tea is not made from the roots, stems, flowers, seeds, or the fruit of any other plant. While it is commonplace today to refer to non-caffeinated herbal beverages such as peppermint, chamomile, and lavender as ‘tea’ we believe that such beverages should be called by other more appropriate names, such as herbal tea, herbal infusions or tisanes.
  2. Tea is not a ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage
  3. Tea is not an instant drink powder


Classifications of Tea:

Tea is identified by the method of manufacture used to turn fresh materials (leaves and buds) into finished tea. This results in the six different classifications of tea, each of which can have dozens of styles from several different tea producing countries or or just a few single teas from one place of origin. No matter what tea you have, it will belong into one of these six classifications:

Green – Yellow – White – Oolong – Black – Hei Cha ( including Pu-erh )

lleaf2Learn more about the specifics of manufacture for the six classes of tea.

Tea leaves and buds have a complex chemical structure that contributes to the characteristics of this beguiling beverage.

Some of the more influential components that affect the flavor and tactile sensation of tea are:

Caffeine: the primary alkaloid in tea ( along with theobromine and theopohylline ) that gives tea its stimulating quality as well as a pleasant astringency

Tannins: plant flavanols ( the tea catechins ) that are responsible for most of the proposed healthful, antioxidant benefits of tea.
These are : EC (epicatechin), ECG ( epicatechin gallate ), EGC ( e pigallocatechin), and EGCG ( epigallocatechin gallate ).
Tannins also affect the texture of tea liquor in the mouth and contribute to tea’s natural astringency.

Theanine: one of over 20 amino acids found in tea that is responsible for transmitting the flavor of tea and also tempering the stimulating effect of caffeine.

More Tea 101 Tutorials:

Selecting Tea    Steeping Tea    Storing Tea    Healthful Benefits