Posts Tagged ‘Cha Dao’

Green Tea or Wu Long Tea? What is the Difference?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

It is very easy to become confused when hearing about the different teas available. There is green tea, herbal tea, wu long (or oolong) tea, black tea, white tea and organic tea to name but a few. Tea comes from China, Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka, as well as other countries.  It is powdered, sold in teabags, or sold as loose leaf. How are you supposed to know what you should buy or what is best for you?

Do not worry if you are new to the world of tea, it really is not as difficult as it first seems. The first distinction to understand is between the tea types. All tea, except for herbal teas, comes from the same plant, “Camelia Sinensis”, and yes, it is a relative of the garden Camelia!  That also includes chinese tea’s as well.  Tea grows best in tropical or sub-tropical climates, as opposed to colder climates, and it also is best when grown at higher altitudes–thus many of the best tea is harvested at an elevation of up to 1,500 meters.

So, what is green tea?  How is it different from black tea? The main difference between the types of tea available depends on the processing it undergoes. Once the tea leaves are picked they quickly begin to wilt and oxidize. The only way to stop the oxidation is to dry the tea leaves by heating them. Following is a brief summary of the main different types of tea and their level of oxidation.

  • White Tea: Unoxidized. The leaves are processed soon after they are picked, though they are allowed to wilt first.
  • Green Tea: Unoxidized. This tea is processed as soon as it is harvested, and before the leaves begin to wilt.
  • Wu Long Oolong Tea: Partially oxidized. As these leaves are left longer before processing they naturally have wilted somewhat.
  • Black Tea: Fully oxidized. These leave are also wilted, and crushed.

Traditionally, black teas are the more commonly imbibed teas in Western and Indian cultures. Oftentimes these are brewed using teabags, or loose powdered tea.  Green and Oolong teas are popular in China, Taiwan and Japan. They are also becoming increasingly more popular in Western countries. This is in part due to claims made regarding certain health benefits they have such as being beneficial for those wanting to lose weight and containing antioxidants.  Really though, when it comes to debating the health properties of green tea vs black tea there are probably more similarities than differences.

My favourite tea is Wu Long, often simply called wu tea, although I also like to drink Green tea as well. There are many misconceptions regarding wu long tea side effects and wu long tea benefits. In reality, I know of no side effects from drinking wulong tea. Chinese drink it many times a day, from morning to night, with no apparent side effects other than many Chinese are quite slim and trim.  While it does have some caffeine, the amounts are small. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine you should probably not drink it late in the afternoon. One point to mention with properly brewed wulong tea is that the leaves (or pyramid shaped teabags) are used over and again. All of the caffeine comes out with the first batch, subsequent batches from the same leaves have little to no caffeine.

You can buy wu long team in stores, in supermarkets and just about anywhere a decent selection of tea is sold. If you are wondering where to buy wu long tea, and whether the generic supermarket tea is fine, I would have to recommend you look elsewhere. Often tea specialty shops carry better varieties of tea, including organic wu long tea which is often sold in nice tea canisters or a small decorative tea chest . These are better for you health-wise and as important, they are also usually much better tasting, providing you brew them properly.

There is another benefit from Asian teas that is not as well known, but that is potentially as inviting as the health properties. In Chinese culture, tea plays an important role as being an aid to enlightenment, clearing the mind and enhancing thought patterns. While some may scoff at this, there is no doubt in my mind that an afternoon spent sampling teas definitely does have an effect on those who partake in it.

As an aside, in Taiwan and China tea and the ‘tea culture’ or ‘the way of tea’ as it is often referred to as is often closely linked to the arts. This perhaps give credence to claims that does indeed play a part in enlightening and enhancing innate abilities, and fostering creativity in all of its forms.

When I was first introduced to the ‘tea culture’ I scoffed. To me it was a ritual, cloaked in tradition and meaningless in today’s world. Tea ceremonies were a desperate attempt by some to keep alive the ancient rituals and traditions of the past–and what need is there for that, anyway? Today, with more years of exposure to this fascinating culture and more insight into the fascinating “Cha Dao” or “the way of tea“, I am starting to believe that there is more to it than initially meets the eye.

If nothing else, it drowns you in the rich, deep Chinese culture which is far older than the culture of many Western lands. There is much we can learn from this, and I believe to embrace it is wiser than to ignore the truths and simple wisdom that it has to offer.

Chinese Wulong Tea, Green Tea and Tea Culture

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Tea evokes different images in the thoughts of people, ranging from the hot morning cuppa’ made from a black tea teabag to the mystery of China and Chinese tea culture and their Wulong tea and Green teas.

Some of the greatest teas originated in China, with China’s tea culture dating back for over a thousand years. Western experience with tea, however, is relatively recent, dating back a couple of hundred years when tea was introduced initially to the nobility. It soon became a favoured drink among many, with most of the tea exported to western countries, black tea.  Black tea remains one of the favourite teas for many Westerners still, although there is growing interest in Chinese teas such as Chinese green tea, Wulong oolong tea and Puerh tea.

No matter what the culture, drinking tea is usually a social event. A commonly heard phrase in China translates as, “Drink tea, make friends.”  Tea has also been traditionally used for centuries as a ceremony shared by master and student, no matter what the subject of the lesson; meditation, scholastic studies or martial arts.

Ancient Chinese Cloudwalkers who lived in the mountains in China, turned from the belief of Tao and instead chose a different path to enlightenment; “Cha Dao” or “the way of tea”.  Cloudwalkers discovered that tea possessed properties that would clear the mind and encourage better concentration, thus the master and student sharing tea together soon became an important ritual that survives amongst Chinese culture even today, the tea ceremony.

Cha Dao, the way of the tea, is almost a spiritual journey of enlightenment for many today. The wonderful calming and meditative properties of properly prepared tea has made Cha Dao not a religion as such, but a journey to find spirituality and peace. There is no set ritual for enjoying tea, nor is there any specific equipment that must be used. This journey is a personal journey, a journey of tasting and enjoying the subtleties and flavours of tea. Chinese believe and teach that in order to truly appreciate the finer qualities of teas your mind must be still, and after that you will begin to notice the difference between teas.

While it takes time for people to learn about tea, and to understand and recognize the differences between teas and between the qualities of teas, it can be learned. The best way to learn is to try different teas, and to learn how to brew them as they should be brewed. With time you will learn what constitutes a good tea and you will come to appreciate the different flavours.   It is a journey well worth taking.

If you are wondering where to buy wulong tea (also known as oolong or wu long tea), I would suggest that you buy from a health store or a special tea store, and that you look for organic wulong Chinese tea.  You can buy either the loose leaf tea or wulong tea bags. The best tea bags to purchase, if you go that route, are the triangular shaped bags that have loose leaf tea inside of them. They can be reused several times, and the quality is much better than teabags with dried tea powder.

You have most likely heard a lot about oolong tea side effects and benefits. It has been featured on numerous television shows, for example, where people talked extensively about oolong tea. Oprah helped to make it famous when discussing wulong slimming tea, and asking the famous question, “Oolong tea, does it work?”  There are also numerous sites online offering oolong tea reviews, and discussing the benefits of drinking oolong tea. Weight loss does often occur when someone switches to drinking wulong tea, (or wu yi tea, as it is also known as.)  It has been well documented, and actually my husband lost quite a bit of weight when he first began drinking it. Having said that, it is not a ‘miracle cure’ that will make all weight drop instantly from you, no matter what else you do.  It does help raise your metabolic rate, as does Green tea, which of course will affect your weight gain or weight loss. Chinese tea’s benefits are substantiated and real.

There are other health benefits to chinese tea’s both green tea and wulong tea. They both contain polyphenol, which has been shown to both enhance your body’s natural enzymes and removes dangerous free radicals from your body.