By Mallie Majarais
Tea is the second-most consumed drink in the world, surpassed only by water. And an often-surprising fact is that all teas come from the same plant. The scientific name is Camellia Sinensis. The different varieties of Camellia leaves (black, white, green and oolong) stem from how they are made.
How the leaves are processed determines their final classification as black, white, green, and oolong teas. The main difference between the many tea varieties is how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing. More oxygen produces dark-colored black teas. Less oxygen results in green tea. Unprocessed leaves are classified white tea.
Black tea, currently the most popular tea in the US, was originally produced out of necessity rather than taste. When European traders first started exporting tea from China, many found that the green tea leaves (green leaves were all that existed), due to the long trip back from Asia, would lose freshness. Merchants would ferment the leaves to lengthen preservation, creating a new variety with a different flavor. Because this was the only way that they could enjoy tea for centuries, black tea remains the favorite for most Westerners. Examples of black tea include Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Ceylon and many others all served loose leaf at the O-CHA tea bar.
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