White tea in a glass (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

White tea in a glass (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

When it comes to tea the notion of color plays a role in a number of ways. To start with, there are the main types of tea. Four of these (black, green, white, yellow) are named for colors. There’s also oolong, which is sometimes (but not so often) referred to as blue tea and keep in mind that the Chinese sometimes refer to black tea as red tea.

Some time back I did a brief overview of the various colors of tea and more recently, my Esteemed Editor took a look at whether different colors of tea have more caffeine than others. There’s a short answer to the question, but the article is worth taking a look at even so.

One of the other ways that color plays a role when it comes to tea is when it comes to the finished product – meaning the wet stuff in the cup that you’re actually drinking. I’ve mentioned before my idea that the aesthetics of tea drinking can be a factor in the overall experience. It’s because of this that I never drink tea from anything but a clear glass tea cup – if I can possibly help it. More about that here.

While I don’t necessarily believe that there’s always a direct correlation between the color of the finished tea and the taste it seems that this is frequently the case. As a dedicated fan of black tea I’ve found that many times the darker brown shades of tea that are somewhat opaque signifies a tea that I’m probably not going to want to drink too often. On the flip side, I’m drinking a quite good Assam now that has a very nice reddish brown color and is nearly translucent and I’m sure I’ll be drinking it many more times.

I don’t drink many other teas these days, except for an occasional green, but the same concepts seem to pretty much be applicable across the board. As a general rule, Japanese teas such as sencha, gyokuro or matcha seem to have a deeper more brilliant green color that occasionally borders on fluorescent. The Chinese green teas that I’ve had the chance to sample over the years tend to have a much lighter color that’s often closer to golden rather than green.

For example, there’s a very good Chinese green that I’ve been drinking a lot lately that brews up to a very nice light golden color in the cup. Like the aforementioned Assam, it’s nearly translucent and, like the Assam, I’m sure I’ll be drinking plenty more of it in the future.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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