species of tea has to be labeled with a particular name. The
naming of tea is based on a number of criteria:
the shape: e. g. gunpowder tea, brick tea, silver needle of
the processed tea and dust tea.
the colour of the drink made from specific tea leaves e. g.
Yellow Bud tea, Pekoe.
the species of the tea trees e. g. Oolong tea, Jasmine tea, Ti
the time when the tea was picked and processed.
the method of processing e. g. fried green tea, baked green
tea, steamed green tea.
the market assigned for the specific type of tea e. g. tea for
domestic, tea for export, tea for consumption in border
region, tea for overseas Chinese.
the region of production and the species e. g. Wuyi Oolong
tea, west Lake Longjing tea, Mengding Yellow bud tea, Qimen
Black tea, Ynnan Black tea. In view of the different tea
types, a uniform naming system is desirable to avoid
confusion. In many cases, one species is given several names,
or several tea species have the same name. Hence a reasonable
system of classification and naming is indispensable to
differentiate between the species for scientific researches,
production, sale and consumption purposes.
Criteria Used in the Classification of Tea
to categorize the different types of tea is a controversial
issue. One proposal suggests that the should be classified
according to the degree of fermentation taking place in the
leaves during processing, Some advocate categorization on the
basis of the extent of withering of the tea leaves. Other
suggestion with reference to the leaf shape, colour, plant
species or growth season. Opinions on the subject are so
diverse that there seems to be no definite solution to the
issue. However relatively scientific method of classifying
tea should satisfy two criteria first, stating the quality of a
particular tea type within the framework of a standardized
grading system; second, reflecting the processing methods
involved. Tea is a commodity. Various types of tea are
qualitatively different. The differences in quality originate
from the distinctive processing methods. Owing to different
ways of processing, black tea and green tea differ utterly in
terms of color, odour and taste. Fermentation is a necessary
step in processing black tea which facilitates the activation
of the enzymes in tea leaves and the relatively thorough
oxidation of the phenol content. In contrast, green tea has to
be exposed to intense heat to destroy the oxidation and
activation of the enzymes, evaporate the water content in the
tea leaves. As the processing techniques for green tea and
these for black tea are different, the chemical changes which
their contents undergo differ also leading to vast
distinctions in their quality. Gongfu Black tea and Souchong
are similar in quality and are processed in basically the same
monner. Both require complete fermentation. Hence they fall
under the same category. There is no significant difference
between fried green tea and baked green tea. The two are
treated in similar ways: intense heat is applied to inhibit
the oxidation of the enzymes, preserve the original colour of
the leaves and soften the leaves. They are of the same
category. Obviously, tea should be first classified according
to the processing methods in order to establish a complete
classification should be based on the shape and content
of the leaves. The most prominent indication of the
qualitative difference between various spices of tea is the
diversity of their colors. Green tea ( including the fresh
leaves, dried leaves and the beverage made from the leaves )
is usually green, though differ types of green tea may show
different shades of green. Some other types of tea like the
Mengding Yellow Bud tea and the Silver Needle tea of Mountain
Jun ture yellow after special treatment. They therefore belong
to the category of yellow tea. Oolong tea, a type of qing tea,
undergoes slight withering and partial fermentation during
processing. Its colour is between green and blue. If the
colour goes darker, it will look like and become a black tea,
a qualitatively different tea type which is prepared with
techniques different from those used in processing qing tea.
If several of tea vary greatly in processing procedures and
hence fall under different categories.
evolution of a new species from tea an old one owes much the
reform in the processing methods. The majority of tea experts
agree that the sequence of appearance is as follows: green tea,
Yellow tea, hei tea, white tea, qing tea and black tea. This
is the traditional six－category
classification used by the Chinese workers.
to the Six Categories of Chinese Tea
the bas basis of the processing methods, product quality and
the main chemical changes the tea leaves undergo, Chinese tea
can be divided into six categories: green tea Yellow tea, hei
tea, white tea, qing tea and black tea. The classification
embraces a wide range of tea. it is both systematic and
scientific and fits in with the traditional categorization.
The system is readily comprehensible, enabling people to
distinguish between and research into the different species of
I ) Green Tea
to Chinese history, green tea was the first to be processed.
People in ancient China discovered the medicinal properties of
tea leaves. They prepared soup with the raw leaves, and then
began to store dried leave for future use. In the Wei Dynasty
A. D), tea leaves were pressed into tea cakes and baked dry.
Tea became popular in the Tang Dynasty. To eliminate the
unpleasant smell of tea leaves, new processing methods
involving steaming were introduced. After the special
treatment the tea tasted better. The advances in the
preparation techniques made possible the manufacturing of
green tea. The methods were greatly improved in the Song
Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty witnessed the invention of an other
techique: tea leaves were fried in a heated pot and the heat
prevented the oxidation of the enzymes and evaporated the
water content in the leaves, resulting in a pleasant, fragrant
tea. The technique was continuously refined and the method of
processing green tea sophisticated, allowing new types of
green tea to be introduced.
main procedure in processing green tea is terminating the
active of enzymes and its fermentation, reducing the
oxidation of the phenol content to the minimum. The tea leaves
and the beverage they produce retain their green colour, a
characteristic quality of green tea.
are two types of preliminary treatment of green tea:
destroying the oxidation of the enzymes and evaporating the
water content in the leaves by frying;
carrying out the same procedure by steaming.
product resulting from the first method is called fried green
tea whereas the alternate method produces steamed green tea.
processed green tea leaves are in different shapes: stick (e.
g. Zhenmei tea, Maofeng tea); straps (e. g. West Lake Longjing
tea); beads (e. g. Ping－shui
Gunpowder tea); sliced; needles (e. g. Pine Needle tea) and
green tea blended with flowers is called scented tea.
Varieties include Jasmine tea, Magnclia tea and Aglais tea.
green tea can be made into different shapes by applying steam
and pressure, for instance, Pu－erh
tea cube, tuo tea cake arid mini tea cake.
II ) Yellow Tea
tea is a specialty of China. It is subdivided into two main
variety and large－leaf
variety. The two varieties are differentiated according to
whether young or old leaves are used. Small－leaf
variety includes Sichuan Mengding Yellow Bud tea etc. Anhui
Huoshan tea, belong to the large－leaf
tea was evolved from green tea. It was first made in the 16th
century A. D. The tea leaves are stored for some time after
the oxidation of the enzymes in the leaves is inhibited. The
phenol content in the leaves undergoes non－enzymatic
and , as a result, the green leaves turn yellow, hence the
name yellow tea.
characteristics of yellow tea are the yellow tea leaves and the
yellow drink made from them. The sweet－smelling
and tasty tea is well－received
in Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong,
Shanxi, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and North China. A
small amount of the tea is for export.
III ) Hei Tea
is a specialty in China and is mainly for the consumption of
the ethnic minorities in the border regions. Hence in is also
Tea' which means 'tea for export to borderland'.
the Tang and the Song dynasties, the central government used
tea to strengthen its rule over the ethnic minorities in the
border regions in the north west, since hei tea was a
favorite drink among the people there. Since the border
regions were not easily accessible. only steamed and pressed
tea lumps convenient for transport and storage were sent to
the frontier seas. The 'Bian－xiao
Tea' produced in the Tang and Song periods was actually
steamed green tea. The production of hei tea did not start
until the 16th century (i. e. the Ming Dynasty).
types of hei tea are packed in various shapes and vary in
quality. However, they share some common features:
i ) The fresh leaves selected for processing are generally
rather old and coarse with stalks attached to them.
ii ) After preliminary treatment and rolling, the fresh leaves
are stored until they show color changes which indicate the
slow oxidation of the phenol content in the leaves. The tea
leaves turn dark gradually. Nevertheless, the oxidation is not
primarily brought about by the catalytic action of the enzymes
because the enzymes become in －ert
after preliminary processing. The oxidation is mainly due to a
combination of specific temperature conditions and humidity,
of the phenol content as well as other factors.
iii ) The tea which has shown colour change is then steamed,
pressed into the designated shapes and slowly dried. Quality
is upgraded when the content of the hei tea has undergone
iv ) The dried leaves are lustrous and dark brown. Pure and
fragrant, the tea has no bitter taste and produces a yellow－brown
tea is produced n Hnnan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi.
There are a number of scented hei tea species; for example,
Hunan bei brick tea, scented brick tea, Hubei green brick tea,
yeoman tea cake and Guangxi Liubao tea.
IV ) White Tea
tea is another specialty of China. The chief producing areas
are severov counties in Fujian, namely, Fuding, Zhenghe and
Jiangyang. Taiwan province also produces a small quantity of
tea prepared in a special way. It is neither fried rolled. The
preparation involves only two steps; natural withering and
drying. while the leaves are withering, the phenol content in
the leaves naturally undergoes slight oxidization without
being catalyzed by the enzymes or inhibiting oxidation by
stopping the catalytic action of the enzymes. The processed
tea is called white tea because the tea leaves are entirely
covered with fine silver white hairs. Cooked in water, the tea
makes an aromatize light yellow beverage which is sweet－tasting
first records of 'White Tea' appear in books written in the
Northern Song Dynasty (960－1126
A. D). The white tea referred to in these records, however,
was not processed in the same way as the white tea of today.
In the Northern Song Period white tea was rare species to be
steamed and pressed into lumps before it was ready for use. In
fact, at that time the so－called
white tea was virtually steamed green tea.
description of dried raw tea was first given in a book on the
art of cooking tea written in 1554A. D. The author claimed
that raw leaves dried under the sun would render the choicest
quality tea. The method of drying raw bud tea under the sun
similar to the preparation techniques used in processing the
Silver Needle tea today.
tea similar to that consumed nowadays was initially produced
during the reign of Jiaqingin early Qing Dynasty (1796A. D).
The farmers of Fuding county dried the selected tea buds to
Silver Needle tea. The buds were small and the white hair on
the leaves were not conspicuous. In 1885, people stared to
make Silver Needle tea by using full－grown
quality tea buds of Fuding large－leaf
white tea plants. The buds were strong with prominent silver
white hairs. The quality of the Silver Needle tea was greatly
impoved. Its export began in 1891 and the product was welcomed
bconsumers. Another type of white tea, the White Peony tea was
created in Fujian and Shuiji counties in 1922.
white tea produced at present includes such scented varieties
as the white－haired
Silver Needlel tea, the white peony tea, Gongmei tea and Shoum
tea. The white－haired
Silver Needle tea is the most expensive among the four and has
established extensive markets in H. K. and Macao. Substantial
sale of the product is also witnessed in Singapore, Malaysia,
France, Germany, Britain, Holland and Switzerland.
V ) Qing Tea
tea is a special type of tea found in Fujian, Guangdong and
Taiwan province. Fujian produces a huge quantity of quality
qing tea. The province also supplies the fullest range of
scented qing tea. Wuyi Oolong tea and Anxi Ti Kuan Yin are the
most famous of all. Qing tea is processed in a series of
steps. First, the withered leaves are shaken continuously by
hand ot by ma chine so as to gring the delicate leaf adages and
speed up the enzymatic oxidation of the phenol content in the
leaf rims. The leaf edges turn red. Then heat is applied to
inhibit the oxidation of the enzymes and to evaporate the
water in the leaves, The tea leaves then become soft. The
catalytic action of the enzymes located in the middle part of
the leaf blade is counteracted, stopping oxidation altogether.
After these processing procedures, the green blades are red－rimmed.
tea also called Oolong tea. It has unique quality and flavor.
The tea leaves after processing appear green with red rims.
The drink made from qing tea orange or yellow in color. The
tea has both the pleasing taste and fragrance characteristic
of strong green tea and the delicate and pure flavor of black
tea. Domestic sales are mainly conducted in Fujian, Guangdong
and Taiwan provinces. The tea is also exported to H. K. Macao,
South East Asia and Japan. It is particularly popular among
qing tea can be further categorized into two types: North
Fujian qing tea and South Fujian qing tea. Wuyi Oolong tea
produced in Chongan county is the most renowned species among
North Fujian qing tea. Other notable types include a rare
species and Narcissus tea in Jianyang county. Ti Kuan Yin of
Anxi county is the most well－known
of all South Fujian qing tea. Jasmine tea and Oolong tea grown
in the Fujian province are also remarkable.
principal qing tea growing district of Guangdong is located in
Raoping county. The area is famous for the Phoenix Jasmine
bulk of Taiwan qing tea is of the Oolong variety, which is
chiefly produced in Taipei. The second largest tea plantation
on the island is found in Xinzhu Tere is some production in
VI) Black Tea
tea takes the major share (over 50%) of the total export of
Chinese tea, and accounts for 25% of total tea production in
tea has to undergo four processing steps: withering, rolling,
fermentation and drying. Fermentation enhances the oxidation
of the phenol content in the tea leaves. The dried leaves
after processing are dark color. The sweet beverage made from
the tea is orange red in color, aromatic and tasty.
Black tea, exported abroad through Guangzhou became very
popular in overseas markets. Later producers in Qimen county
of Anhui and Anhua county of Hunan followed suit, and they
also enjoyed great success. The production of black tea has
been gaining momentum since the establishment of the People's
Republic of China. Quality species are selected for mechanized
processing. The techniques of tea processing have been
refined, ensuring continued improvement in quality and expanse
ion in production. Apart from Souchong tea and Gongfu Black
tea, China has been upgrading consistently the crushed black
tea, a new variety which is gaining popularity in
international markets. The export of crushed black tea is on
the increase every year.
present more than sixty counties in twelve Chinese provinces
are producing black tea. The products from different districts
possess unique qualities. They bear the same name as their
respective growing regions; for instance, Anhui Qimen black
tea, Yunnan black tea, Sichuan black tea, Guangdong Ying black
tea and Fujian Zhengshan Souchong. These varieties of tea are
prepared with sophisticated techniques. Delicious and
refreshing, the products have established a world－wide
reputation for excellence.