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The Four Major Tea Families

From the “Talking Tea with Bruce Richardson” Video Series – Episode 5

Tea Master Bruce Richardson gives a brief introduction to the four major tea families: white, green, oolong and black. Each one of these teas has unique flavor profiles and they each need to be steeped with proper water temperatures. Americans are notorious for ruining green tea with boiling water. In this easy to understand video, Richardson shares the processes used to grow and manufacture each tea as well as time and water temperatures for brewing the perfect cup of tea time after time. He leaves us with an easy reminder for remembering proper water temperatures – the lighter the tea, the cooler the water. The darker the tea, the hotter the water. He also explains how herbs, such as peppermint, are not true teas and contain none of the health benefits found in true teas.


Speaking: Teamaster Bruce Richardson
Caption text provided by Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions”*

i’m bruce richardson teat master for the boston tea party ships and museum

can you spot the dish in front of me that contains no true tea leaf?

if you chose this one, peppermint, you’re right.

peppermint is an herb. it contains no caffiene but it has none of tea’s health benefits.

let me introduce you today to four of the major members of the tea families

we begin with tea in its purest form, white tea. this is a beautiful silver needles from china. these young, unopened tea leaves were picked in the spring time placed into the sun and slowly were allowed to dry. oxidation is very very light in these teas. they produce a beautiful golden cup, very light and color but with a delicious honey after taste.

as we talked about before, almost twenty percent of the tea thrown over board in boston harbor was green tea from china

here we have a green tea from japan sencha, 25the most consumed green tea in japan today. these mechanically harvested tea leaves are put into a steamer where the enzymes are killed and this tea will forever and always stay in its green state.

the third family is oolong. these leaves… are picked in generally in either china or taiwan. here today i have a beautiful tieguanyin. the leaves are put into a wok where there are roasted a bit then rolled and then put back into a wok in the go through this process several times until we get this beautiful hand rolled nugget of leaf which unfurls once we put hot water again into our tea pot

the last family is black tea this is that the that were most acquainted with here in the western world. this example today is my morning tea that is a tippy grade assam from india

these teas soon as they are picked… in the gardens are allowed to wither and then they are put through huge machines that… bruise them and allow the juices of the tea leaf to open up to the air and the oxication process begins very quickly and after three or four hours the tea goes from being green to being black the it’s put into a dryer which uh… that stops the oxidation process and makes this beautiful black tea they were so well acquainted with.

now each one of these tea families has its own unique water temperature and we begin with white tea at no more than 165 degrees, green tea 165 to 170 degrees, oolongs 190 to 210 depending upon the grade. and the black tea as well most black teas can benefit from a pool rolling boil.

now how can you remember this? well just remember the uh… lighter the color of the tea the cooler the water the darker the tea the hotter of the water. if you can remember that simple rule, you’re on your way to making great tea time after time

well until we see you in boston go forth and make good tea

*Please note that Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions” may not have captured the content of the speaker(s) on this video accurately. Please report any errors you find on this website via the contact us form.

Bruce Richardson Profile Picture

Bruce Richardson

MSN calls Bruce Richardson "A leading tea expert involved in tea's American renaissance for over 30 years." The native Kentuckian is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo or China Global Tea Fair. He is the author ...

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