Understanding the difference between whole leaf and CTC tea

Jun 25, 2012|

SUMMER IS HERE!  It is probably inevitable that at some point this summer you're going to brew up a batch of tea, pour it over ice and sip it to quench your thirst and cool you off on a hot day.    Sounds like a great summer day, and a delicious way to celebrate tea during the month of June for National Iced Tea Month!  However, how much do you really know about tea?   Do you know the different types of tea?   Do you know the correct way to brew tea?   Just like coffee,  tea has different classifications and specific  brewing guidelines  to produce the best tasting results in the cup. 

Let's begin with asking do you prefer whole leaf or CTC teas? Many of us have grown up sipping CTC tea.  CTC is  the" chopped tea" found in many tea bags.  CTC stands for Crush, Tear and Curl, which is the manufacturing process for this particular class of tea.   This is opposed to the orthodox method of manufacturing where after tea leaves are withered they are crushed and rolled by hand, or by a machine that mimics the hand-rolling process.   The intent with the orthodox method is to preserve the integrity of the whole leaf that will often unfurl completely during brewing.  With the CTC process leaves pass through a "series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp teeth that crush, tear and curl the leaves."  Hence,  this is how this classification gets its name.  This type of tea is much smaller than whole leaf making them ideal for tea bags which now come in a variety of shapes and materials.   When it comes to flavor, CTC teas often have more fully body and can produce more color in the cup, however, tea lovers generally prefer whole leaf teas for their more complex yet pure flavor characteristics.  

Stay tuned because next time we will learn about the correct brewing temperatures for the different types of tea!

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