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Daniel Lui's
Fine & Specialty Chinese Teas & Accessories

About Chinese Tea

One Plant - Thousands Of Teas!

camellia sinensisBelieve it or not, all tea is made from one plant, known as Camellia sinensis. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow into a small tree. The Camellia sinensis sinensis sub-species is native to Southeast China. The plants can live for up to 100 years or more and the leaves are harvested year round. Another sub-species called Camellia sinensis assamica is native to India and all tea consumed in the world comes from these two plants.

Over the centuries, Chinese manufacturers have been able to produce thousands of varieties of tea from this single plant Camellia sinensis sinensis, each having its own unique flavour. This has been achieved by controlling 4 basic elements:

Region where the plant is located; soil and altitude are key factors

Time of harvesting the leaves  - early, middle or late in each season

Method of harvesting - picking only buds or buds with leaves

Processing - withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying and grading

The fifth element that affects the flavour of tea is how it is prepared just before drinking.

Preparation - type and quality of the teapot, temperature and quality of the water, brewing times

To learn about tea-making using the traditional Chinese Gong Fu Cha (Tea With Great Skill) technique, read our guide Gong Fu Cha - The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea by Daniel Lui .

One thing that cannot be controlled is the weather and this has a major effect on tea plants and the flavour of the teas they produce. A tea manufacturer may produce the same type and grade of tea for decades but each year the tea may have a slightly different taste. Each spring, tea-lovers eagerly await the new picking of Tie Guan Yin (also known as Gun Yam, Iron Buddha, Buddha of Mercy, Chinese Oolong) to sample its fresh and fragrant flavour and aroma and compare it to last year's pick.

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