Mana Bar features many exotic teas from all around the world, from China, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Polynesia, Hawaii, South America, North America, Europe, Africa, and India. These teas are as varied in their characteristics as the countries that have traditionally been cultivating and sipping in splendor through the millennia.
One common misconception many people have with regards to tea, is just what constitutes tea. Traditionally, when one talks about tea, they are speaking of the Camellia Sinensis plant. This tea plant gives birth to White, Yellow, Green, Oolong, Black and Pu-erh teas. The only differences between these varieties of tea are not the plant used, but how the leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant are processed after harvesting. The processing of tea leaves may include bruising, macerating the leaves, oxidizing or withering, allowing the enzymes in the plucked tea leaves break down many complex starches into sugars and altering the chemical composition of the leaf, firing, or killing the green, this processes can take the form of pan roasting, baking, smoking or even simply steaming, this firing process ends oxidation and freezes the tea at any point on its journey from white to black via oxidation.
White teas are the least processed of all teas. This processing can be as minimal as picking the leaves and allowing them to sun dry for several days, although sometimes the leaves are very lightly bruised or rolled to allow for slight oxidation before they are quickly shaped and fired in order to end the oxidation process, yet preserve the delicate grassy and floral notes that are commonly praised in white teas.
Green teas are also minimally processed and lightly oxidized; however, there is a much wider range of techniques between the macerating, or bruising, of the tea leaves, the withering methods and different ways of killing the green, including baking, frying and steaming. As a result of this greater range of processing techniques, the tastes and aromas of green teas can vary from strong, full bodied and toasted nut taste, to light, grassy and floral.
Oolong teas are simi-oxidized teas. Where as green teas are minimally oxidized, and black tea fully so, oolongs can range from 15-80%. This wide spectrum, along with a large range of roast levels and production techniques, gives this category a very diverse collection of varying tastes and aromas. Lighter oolongs can be sweetly floral, while darker examples can have nutty, woodsy, or varying levels of roasted flavors. There are four primary oolong producing regions, each with its own style. Minnan, most notably AnXi county in southern Fujian province, home of Tieguanyin (iron goddess of mercy); Minbei, Wuyi mountains, in northern Fujian, its famous yancha (rock tea); The Phoenix mountains in Guandong province, producer of dan cong tea; and Tiawan, with a style similar to Minnan oolongs. Here at Mana we try to offer a wide range of oolong teas from these different regions, so anyone can find something that suits their palate. We are also happy to be able to source many of our oolong teas directly from the farmer/producers in Taiwan and China, allowing us to get better prices, thus saving our customers money on what would other wise be relatively expensive tea!
Black Teas (Red Tea)
What is referred to as black tea in the west is actually called red tea in the east, named so because of the red colored tea liquor. These teas are fully oxidized during processing giving them a robust taste profile.
Raw Pu-erh Teas (sheng cha)
Dark tea that has undergone a natural post-fermentation through aging. Sheng cha pu-erh is alive with microbial activity, allowing its flavor, aroma and visual character to transform over time. Young sheng can be floral and herbaceous with a pleasant bitterness (ku wei) balanced by a sweet, long lasting finish. the tea soup will be yellow to light orange. Mature sheng will hold onto some of the high notes of a young tea, but develop a deeper character and complexity. The liquor will become dark amber. Quality sheng pu-erhs both young and old will tend to be rather thick or oily in the mouth. Like fine wine, sheng pu-erh is said to get better with age, reaching maturity at 15-25 years, and peak maturity sometimes much later. Though "better with age" is subjective, and many people enjoy the raw, powerful energy of younger sheng. Pu-erh teas are often pressed into cakes of various shapes, but can also be found loose (maocha). Mana offers many different vintages of sheng pu-erh, each at varying levels of maturity.
Cooked Pu-erh Teas (shu cha)
These teas have not actually been cooked, but have undergone an accelerated post fermentation process, or ripening. The process lasts for 45-60 days on average, and will mimic 40 to 50 years of aging a raw pu-erh. This process was created in the early 70's by the Menghai tea factory to help meet the growing demand for mature pu-erh teas. These teas will be much more earthy in their flavor and aroma with lots of low octave bass notes. The liquor will be a very dark amber, almost black in color. These pu-erhs will also age well, becoming more smooth and well rounded, though they will not experience the dramatic metamorphosis a raw pu-erh will go through. Mana offers several quality shu pu-erhs, both loose and pressed cakes.