Many people don’t know this, but nearly all tea comes from the same plant! Camelia Sinensis is the main tea plant used in China, Japan, and Korea, and one of the two main tea plants used in India (the other is Camelia Assamicus). All of our tea leaf at Eighty Six Degrees Tea is Camelia Sinensis. What makes a green tea different from an oolong or black is the fermentation process, and how long the tea producers allow a tea to oxidize. The more oxidation, the darker the tea becomes (White->Green->Oolong->Black). As a general rule of thumb: the darker a tea, the more caffeine (Of course there are always exceptions!). Also, although there are exceptions, herbal teas (like barley) contain no Camelia Sinensis and are therefore caffeine-free.
✪ Barley: Currently, this is our only caffeine free option. Barley is a grain, similar to wheat or rye. If you are looking for a decaf/noncaf drink, we recommend a Barley drink or Yakult drink (which is also caffeine free).
✪ Jasmine: A Chinese green tea base infused with jasmine flowers. This style of tea is slightly lower in caffeine than a typical green tea due to the content of jasmine, which has no caffeine. The process involves adding and removing jasmine flowers from the tea leaves during the fermentation process, which allows the natural oils of the flowers to seep into the leaves.
✪ Dragonwell: A Chinese green tea. This is a very popular, very well known variety of tea. During fermentation, the leaves are pan-fried in a large wok to halt further oxidation, and then pressed, which gives the leaves their characteristic flat appearance. The name Dragonwell is a direct English translation of the Chinese name for this style of tea, Longjing (龙井茶).
✪ Sencha: A Japanese green tea. This is also a very popular tea leaf style. Japanese green tea differs from Chinese in the fermentation process; instead of pan-frying the leaves, the Japanese tend to steam their tea leaf. You may be curious about how this differs from matcha. Matcha, by definition, must be a powder, but at this time, Eighty Six Degrees Tea is only using loose leaf tea.
✪ Oolong: Oolong is a type of tea from China, and is especially well known in Taiwan. Oolong is just starting to become popular in America, and if a guest ever asks how Oolong is, it would be accurate to say it bridges the gap from green tea to black tea: its oxidation falls in the middle of the two, contains some of the grassy and vegetal notes of green tea, and is known for roasted notes like in black tea.
✪ Black: We use Chinese black tea. It features the longest oxidation period of all the teas, and therefore the highest in caffeine (although still less caffeine than coffee). Black tea became very popular in Europe in the last several centuries, and European settlers brought it with them to America, which is a big part of why black tea is still the most popular tea in America to this day.
✪ Espresso: Espresso is made when nearly boiling water is forced through fine ground specialty coffee beans; essentially, it is concentrated coffee. Obviously, this is the most caffeinated drink we serve at Eighty Six Degrees Tea.