The major types of tea including black, oolong, green, and white all originate from the Camellia sinensis tea plant. The differences among the teas result only from the way the plucked leaves are processed.
Black Tea Leaves Tea derived from the plant Camelia sinensis is most often sourced from China, East Asia, India, and Sri Lanka. Black tea is characterized by a 4-step process of withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying. It typically has the deepest liquor color.
Withering - Freshly harvested tea leaves are spread out on racks and left to wither for 14 to 24 hours. During this withering process, the leaves become soft and pliable from losing water due to evaporation.
Rolling - Next, the tea leaves are fed into rolling machinery that breaks up the cellular structure and releases the natural enzymes of the leaf. An elliptical motion created by large rollers exerts just enough pressure to roll and twist the leaf without causing heat damage. The resulting product is a green, pungent pile of twisted tea leaves.
Oxidation - After rolling, the tea leaves are transferred to a cool, humid location in the factory to begin the oxidation process. Over the next two to three hours, the leaves release enzymes that causes oxidation to the leaves when exposed to air. This chemical reaction is what causes the leaves to darken and contributes to the characteristic flavors of black tea. .
Drying - Once the leaves have reached the desired level of oxidation, heat is applied. This process halts any further oxidation and reduces the water content in the tea leaves to an ideal 2%.
Popular Mighty Leaf black teas include Organic Breakfast, Organic Earl Grey, Darjeeling Estate and more.
This traditional Chinese tea undergoes a withering and oxidation process. It can vary widely in flavor, and is often thought of as sitting halfway between black tea and green tea. Oolong tea leaves undergo a 3-step process of withering, oxidation, and drying.
Withering - After plucking usually three to four tea leaves and a bud, oolongs undergo the withering process, but for a shorter period of time compared to black tea.
Oxidation - Upon wilting, workers shake the leaves in bamboo baskets resulting in slight bruising of the leaf. As the leaf is exposed to air, the enzymes react with the oxygen, and the tea leaves turns darker in color.
Drying - The leaves are then fired to stop oxidation. Again, the duration of oxidation will depend upon the style of oolong. Interestingly enough, an oolong can exhibit more green or black tea characteristics depending upon the level of oxidation.
Mighty Leaf offers popular Oolong teas such as Formosa Top Fancy Oolong, Golden Dragon Oolong and Ti Kuan Yin.
Green Tea Leaves Most often sourced from China and Japan, green tea is characterized by a lack of oxidation and typically retains its green color. Instead of going through the withering and oxidation process, fresh leaves from the Camelia sinensis plant are immediately steamed or pan-fired to stop any oxidation activity.
Steaming or Pan-firing - In Japan, green tea is steamed, and in China, leaves are pan-fired in a wok or heated drum. Both processes resulting in soft and pliable tea leaves. With the active enzymes locked inside, the leaf is ready for rolling.
Rolling - Whether done by hand or with machines, rolling determines the unique size and shape of the green tea leaf. A tea plant's growing location will dictate the style of rolled tea – resulting shapes include long thin leaves, tight balls, flat natural leaf, and gently twisted green teas. The beauty of a tea and the taste profile is affected by the style and tradition of rolling.
Drying - Finally, a gentle heating or firing afterwards allow the leaves to dry, preserving their fresh "green" characteristics. At the end of the process, the moisture content of the tea leaf should be 4%.
Mighty Leaf’s bestselling green teas include Green Tea Tropical, Organic Spring Jasmine, Organic Hojicha, and more.
Matcha is a traditional Japanese green tea that is ground into a very fine powder. To produce matcha, only young leaves are used that sprout while the plant is being shaded. Shade-growing is essential to how the tea plant is harvested for matcha. Sunlight is carefully regulated, enough that the tea leaves struggle to grow, but not enough to stop the photosynthesis process entirely. The effect is that the chlorophyll and antioxidant content skyrockets, resulting in a leaf packed with nutrients, flavor and caffeine. After plucking, the leaves then go through a process of steaming, drying, deveining and grinding before becoming the powdered form we know and appreciate.
Steaming, drying - The picked leaves are steamed and air-dried to stop oxidation.
Deveining - Veins and stems are removed from the tea leaves and are sifted to separate them out. These pieces of tea leaf flesh that remain are called Tencha.
Grinding - Tencha can be stored for a few months until ready to be ground to a fine powder. Traditionally, it is ground between granite millstones. Nowadays, the process is done by machines using cold temperature and ball bearings to achieve the silky smooth consistency and fine powder that characterizes Matcha tea.
Some of the bestselling Mighty Leaf’s matcha include Organic Ceremonial Matcha, Organic Matcha, Matcha Frappe & Latte Mix, and more.
White tea was traditionally named for the appearance of the young buds plucked and allowed to wither and dry without processing. The downy fibers on the young buds are silvery white in appearance. Over time the term white tea has been commonly used to describe any tea that is withered and dried without processing.
Mighty Leaf offers white teas including White Orchard, Snow Leopard, Silver Jasmine and more.
Also known as tisanes, herbal “teas” consist of an infusion of herbs, spices, fruits, flowers, or other plants. Herbal teas are most often naturally caffeine free and the production process varies significantly depending on the type of herb, spice, fruit or flower being cultivated for use in an herbal blend.
Some of the bestselling Mighty Leaf’s herbal teas include Chamomile Citrus, Organic African Nectar, Mint Melange, and more.