Chinese tea is developed in Tang Dynasty and flourished in Song Dynasty. “茶”,tea in Chinese is simplified from “荼”. Tea is of great function,like removing fat and relaxing oneself according to the traditional medical books such as A Supplement to Materia Medica Shiliao Bencao and Materia Medica for Daily Use.
Based on making method and the quality as well as the degree of oxidation of tea polyphenols, Chinese tea can be roughly divided into six types: green tea, yellow tea, dark tea, white tea and black tea, which is the most widely used classification way.
Green tea: a not fermented tea. It is stirred fixed in high-temperature to maintain the original green leaves. Green tea has the largest output in China and ranks first in the world in variety. Green tea is strong in scent, mellow in taste, beautiful in shape, resistant in brewing etc. Its processing process is through fixation, rolling and drying. Due to the different drying method in processing, green tea can be further divided into stir fixed green tea, baked green tea, steamed green tea, sunned tea. Rare types of green tea: Longjing, Biluochun, Huangshan Maofeng, Lusan Yunwu, Liuan Guapian, Taiping Houkui, Xinyang Maojian etc.
Black tea: getting this name because the tea liquid and tea leaves are reddish black. In contrast with green tea, black tea is completely fermented tea. The difference between black tea and green tea is the manufacturing method. When processing black tea, none fixation is used. Firstly, withering leavers which makes the fresh leaves lose partial moisture then rolled into strips or cut into beads. Next, fermenting makes contained tea polyphenols oxidized and become red compound with partial dissolved in water and partial accumulated in leaves, forming the red liquid and red leaves. Black tea mainly has three types: Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, Kungfu Black Tea and Broken Black Tea.
Yellow tea: the making method is similar to green tea except for the three-day yellowing, which consequently leads to yellow leaves and yellow liquids after brewing. Yellow tea can be re-divided into Yellow Bud Tea (Huoshan Yellow Bud Tea), Yellow Xiaocha (Pingyang Huangtang), Yellow Dacha ( Huoshan Dacha). The most famous Junshan Silver Needle just belongs to yellow tea.
White tea: almost made by sunning, which is our country’s speciality. The similarity between white tea and yellow tea lies in good shape, smell and flavor. The white fur of tea leaves are preserved by only drying or sunning tender leaves in processing, without stirring or rolling. White tea is mainly produced in Fuding, Zhenghe, Songxi, Jianou and so on counties in Fujian province, with famous kinds Silver Needle, White Peony, Gong Mei and Shou Mei.
Oolong tea: a partially fermented tea of which leaves are slightly red, sitting half between green tea and black tea. The processing method of oolong tea is most complicated compared with other five types and the brewing way is also most exquisite. Typically oolong tea leaves are green in the middle and red on edges. Valuable kinds: Dwarf Oolong, Wuyi Rock Tea, Tie Guanyin, Fenghuang Unique Bush Tea and Taiwan Oolong Tea.
Dark tea: using rough and unfresh raw material. Long time processing of piling and fermentation makes leaves dark brown. Originally black tea is mainly sold to border areas and is the indispensable daily necessity for Mongolian, Uygur and other Tibetan ethnics. Rare kinds: Hunan Dark Tea, Hubei Laoqing Dark Tea, Guangxi Liubao Tea, Compacted Tea, Square Tea. The most famous Yunnan Pu-erh Tea is the typical of dark tea.
Another classification of tea is based on commodity condition. And thus, tea can be divided into black tea, green tea, scented tea, compacted tea and instant tea and so on seven categories. In Europe,however, the classification method is much more easier than that of China. On basis of product attributes, tea can be divided into black tea, oolong tea and green tea. While in Japan, according to the degree of fermentation, it can be classified into non-fermented tea, partially fermented tea, completed fermented and post-fermented tea.