.Take a look at how whole leaves can create a better tea experience
Orthodox tea is held up as being the best quality tea available. But why? What sets them apart from your average supermarket or industrial tea? Well, it’s all in the leaves.
Orthodox Teas are whole leaf teas crafted using the traditional process of making tea, either by hand processing or rolling machinery that mimics hand rolling. The small, young tender leaves are plucked from the tips of the tea bush. This is in contrast to CTC Teas, which are made through the Crush, Tear, and Curl method which produces a granular leaf particle. CTC teas are then further graded by: brokens, fannings and dust. Dust is the lowest quality tea you can you and is mostly presented in bags in the supermarket.
Is Orthodox tea better?
Orthodox teas are known for being brisk, bright, and more complex than your average tea. The nuances and complexities in orthodox teas make the tea drinking experience much more enjoyable as compared with CTC teas. Orthodox teas are subject to a grading system (more on that in a future blog!) and I guess you could draw comparisons between wine complexities and orthodox teas. Orthodox teas are essentially handcrafted quality whole leaves.
All Tea House Teas are orthodox – they are handcrafted and rolled in the high Himalayas of Nepal, on an estate called Sandakphu – operated as a farmer led cooperative. They are definitely set apart from CTC teas, which are stronger and have a tendency to include bitter tones.
All quality orthodox tea goes through a production system based on the following stages.
- Firstly – the leaves are WITHERED – The leaves are spread out for 14-20 hours to allow the moisture to evaporate. Some Tea House teas are withered in the sun.
- Then they are ROLLED – Rotating and pressing the leaves to release their inherit chemicals and prepare for oxidation. This is done either by hand or in a rolling machine.
- Next up is OXIDISATION – The leaves spend 2-4 hours in a controlled environment, allowing the air to react with the chemicals. During this process, the leaves turn darker.
- Lastly, they are FIRED – A heater or the sunshine is used to stop oxidation and dry the leaves before they are sorted for grading.
Sandakphu tea estate produces many different types of tea. Each one is unique based on what leaves are picked, when picking takes place, and the lengths for each processing stage. The processing stage also decides whether a tea is white, green, oolong or black with each variety having different treatments in each stage.
Orthodox Tea and Health
Studies suggest that orthodox tea can have powerful positive impacts on your health. Regular drinking exposes the body to high levels of polyphenols, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. From helping with the common cold through to cancer prevention, orthodox tea is a natural elixir that everyone should be drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Get to know your teas and then you can decide better what kind of ‘tea day’ it is! Do you feel the need for a milky spiced tea? Well, go for some cheaper CTC leaves which can take the milk well. CTC tends have have stronger bitter flavours and it releases all of its flavours in the first steep. Or maybe today you feel like a refreshing cooler tea – maybe served with fresh lemon juice or mint leaves – in that case – go for a whole leaf orthodox tea – which you can steep multiple times. Whatever you decide just make sure you stop, relax and enjoy your tea moment.